AAPI Community Conversation

Lewis ChapmanFeatured, Live Stream, Uncategorized

May 26
Live-streamed at 6:00 p.m. AKDT

To celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Perseverance Theatre is hosting a Community Conversation led by Artistic Director, Leslie Ishii, on May 26 at 6 p.m. AKDT. Additional panelists include Adriana Li, Dennis Arashiro, and Edric Carrillo.

The event is free and open to the public and will be live-streamed to Perseverance Theatre’s Facebook and YouTube. A link will also be posted on the webpage, ptalaska.org.

Adriana Li is a Program Coordinator and Instructor of IMPACT and IMPACT: Ability programs, since 2017. She has worked at Triangle, Inc. since January 2017, serving adults with disabilities to focus on advocacy and independence in the workplace. She comes from a background of arts & education, holding a bachelor’s degree in theater from Pine Manor College. She has been a youth educator/mentor in various museum and K-8 school programs since 2008.

“As a mixed race Chinese American, like many in my community, I am all too familiar with the disparities of race-based harassment, intersectional microaggressions, and what seems like endless years of Asians in this country being treated like they are invisible or disposable people. Whenever they are visible, it’s in a light that is convenient to the surveyor and only seen as a fraction of who we truly are. In this time of increased violence and discrimination based on the excuse of the pandemic, I am deeply saddened and in fear of wanting to protect my community and my loved ones from this senselessness. I am looking forward to engaging in more conversations to build awareness and continuing to teach self-defense strategies to hopefully connect us and truly put an end to this increasing divide.”

Dennis Arashiro was born in 1952 in Honolulu, Hawaii, of an Okinawan Nisei father and Japanese war bride mother and grew up in Hawaii with a multiethnic extended family. He came to Alaska at the age of 8 when his father was stationed at Fort Richardson. Graduating from East Anchorage High School in 1970, he earned his BA in History and Language and Literature at Alaska Methodist University in 1973.

He was a Social Studies teacher in the Anchorage School District for 43 years before fully retiring. He has chaired Social Justice at the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for the past 10 years and now serves as Board President of the Alaska Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League.

“The Declaration of Independence identifies the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” For many in the Asian American Pacific Islander community, our journey has involved the pursuit of acceptance. Our challenge is to identify what American dream to pursue.”

Edric Carrillo is the Board Secretary/Board Member at the Filipino Community, Inc. Center in Juneau, which aims to foster better and harmonious relationships with fellow Filipinos and other cultural groups, and keep Filipino heritage, culture, customs, and traditions alive. They help in enhancing the integration of Filipinos into mainstream America to be of better service not only to the Filipino-American community, but to the general public as well.

“Growing up in Alaska as a minority I’ve at times, felt lost, and without a voice. As I’ve grown up I’ve realized these things can be found by learning about and sharing your culture with one another. Though the AAPI community is vast, we have lots of shared experiences that allow us to better understand one another. We must extend our culture and experiences beyond the AAPI community. By doing so it will bring us together and together we will be heard.”

Leslie Ishii is the current Artistic Director of Perseverance Theatre. She debuted as an actor in Northwest Asian American Theater’s Breaking The Silence that raised legal funds for WWII US Concentration Camp Resister, Gordon Hirabayashi’s Supreme Court Case.

Leslie’s passion for directing has her working deep in community at many theatres and programs that feature multiracial casts and artists of color. She has directed with Perseverance Theatre, East West Players, Artists At Play, Northwest Asian American Theatre, Center Theatre Group, and Universities and Colleges throughout the US.

Leslie founded/Produces the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) API 2×2 Lab New Works Residency (2014-present) with two assistant directorships at OSF. Leslie has developed actor training and directing methods for artists of color based in anti-racism/liberation theory as a response to American/Western European conservatory training. She continues to teach and collaborate with an anti-racism/equity and decolonizing imperative. Awards include Teachers Making A Difference; Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival Integrity Award; SDC 2016, 2017 National Standout Recognition for championing equity/inclusion.

“With the on-going escalation of anti-Asian/Pacific Islander hate and violence, our Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage month is a timely opportunity to uplift Asian/Pacific Islander leaders and the important work they are doing within our communities. We welcome everyone to tune in as we also address strategies and resources to empower us all to keep our communities aware and safe as we navigate these pandemics.”

Leslie will also be moderating an unprecedented conversation amongst Asian-American theatre leaders paving the way for the next generation with Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). That event will take place on Monday, May 24 at 5 p.m. PDT. It can be viewed at facebook.com/osfashland or youtube.com/user/orshakes.

The Community Conversation from Perseverance Theatre will live-stream to the theatre’s Facebook (facebook.com/PerseveranceTheatre) and YouTube (youtube.com/c/perseverancetheatre) starting at 6 p.m. AKDT on Wednesday, May 26. The event is free and open to the public, but donations are always welcome and appreciated at ptalaska.org/donate-now/.