Philip Kan Gotanda

Philip Kan Gotanda

He // Him // His

[ID: A man with short gray hair and glasses smiles slightly with his arms crossed in front of him. He wears a multi-colored, patterned scarf and a dark pinstriped blazer.]

Portrait photo by Diane Takei.

Playwright and Filmmaker
Berkeley, CA
2024 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by Mellon Foundation.

Philip Kan Gotanda is a major influence in broadening how theater has been defined in America. Through plays and advocacy, Gotanda has been instrumental in bringing stories of Asians in the United States to American theater, Europe, and Asia. Author of one of the largest collections of Asian American–themed plays, his works have been seminal in the field of Asian-American drama.

His plays have broadened the thematic boundaries of Asian American theater. Interracial marriage in Yohen. Generational conflicts of mixed-race children in The Wash. The historic intersection of African American and Asian Americans in After the War. Stereotyping and closeted gay Asian American performers in Hollywood in Yankee Dawg You Die. I Dream of Chang and Eng examines issues of orientalism and disability. A Fist of Roses centers around toxic masculinity and male violence against women. Angry Red Drum is an antiwar critique of the Bush administration.

He has been awarded the inaugural Dramatist Guild Foundation Legacy Award 2020–2022, a Guggenheim Award, a grant from the Pew Charitable Trust, a Rockefeller Award, the Lila Wallace Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, an TCG-NEA Residency, a Sundance Theater Fellowship, a MAP Fund grant, a Creative Work Fund grant, and a New Play Production Award from the Gerbode Foundation. In 2023, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Anthologies No More Cherry Blossoms and Fish Head Soup and Other Plays are published by the University of Washington Press. Other publications include The Wash, Yankee Dawg You Die, The Dream of Kitamura, Day Standing on Its Head, The Wind Cries Mary, The Ballad of Yachiyo, and The Dominion of Night.

Gotanda has directed and produced three independent films that were official entries into the Sundance Film Festivals: The Kiss, Drinking Tea, and Life Tastes Good.

Excerpt of The Dream of Kitamura, 2018. Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Berkeley, CA.
  • Artwork by Philip Kan Gotanda
    Yohen, starring Danny Glover and June Angela, a co-production with Robey Theatre and East West Players. Photo by Michael Lamont, East West Players.
    [ID: A Black man and a Japanese woman hold hands and embrace on a stage made up to look like a domestic setting.]
  • Artwork by Philip Kan Gotanda
    Both Eyes Open. Operatic telling of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
    [ID: Two people crouch center stage, as though in flight. A monitor at the top of the stage reads “A knock on the door in the middle of the night.” A stylized black-and-white illustration of a train car filled with solemn passengers forms the stage’s backdrop.]
Artwork by Philip Kan Gotanda Artwork by Philip Kan Gotanda