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Saturday, August 17th was the perfect summer day in Los Angeles – a hot sun and cool breezes. That afternoon, the Aratani Courtyard was full of hustle-and-bustle and good cheer – flanked by tables dressed in white and mint, while friends, long-time and new, came together and enjoyed fine wines and the exclusive “Tim Dang Banger” cocktail, inspired by the celebrant of the evening. Parvesh Cheena was our host for the evening, providing lots of laughs and encouraging everyone to join the opportunity drawings and Tim Dang Bingo.

As the sun gave way into dusk, guests enjoyed a delicious dinner al fresco specially created by Chef Glen Ishii of Jist Cafe and shortly made their way into the David Henry Hwang Theater for the show, featuring the best musical performers to grace the EWP stage. Hosted by Reggie Lee, directed by Marilyn Tokuda and musical direction by Nathan Wang, each brought the house down in their own way. Artists who supported the Artistic Family Mosaic project also shared the stage with the performers. Our guest of honor, Tim, shared his heartfelt gratitude for everyone who has supported his journey here at EWP.

After the show, the sun was down and the stars were out, and we enjoyed a variety of desserts by Majestic Caterers while everyone waited excitedly to find out who won prizes!

The event chaired by Lynn Arthurs for the Board of Directors and produced by Alison De La Cruz was a memorable evening indeed.

Thank you for celebrating Tim’s 20th at East West Players!

View photos from “One Night Only: Tim’s 20th!” Photos by Mike Palma.

 

Chef Glen Ishii By Alison De La Cruz

As a foodie and a producer of “One Night Only,” I sat down with Chef Glen Ishii of JiST Café,  East West Players’ newest neighbor in Little Tokyo and chef catering our special event “One Night Only: Tim Dang’s 20th Anniversary” on August 17, 2013.

How did you get started as a chef?

Glen: I guess I got started working for my mom, when I was a kid helping her out in the kitchen at Tokyo Garden doing prep work and cleaning. I then went to college for Hotel & Restaurant Management, and after I went to Japan for a year. It was while I was there that I decided: I think I’ll do this as a career. Then I came back, worked at a restaurant in Marina del Rey and learned classic French cuisine. After, I was just building my work experience.

What was it like growing up in Mom’s kitchen in Little Tokyo?

Glen: Part of it was convenient.  I went to elementary at Maryknoll, it’s now St Francis Xavier school, and then I would walk over after school. As a kid it was fun, something about the kitchen seemed fun. But as a teenager, I always had to work on the weekend so it sucked. Especially during Nisei Week, when all the friends would visit.

You have such a deep history in Little Tokyo. Lots of people are talking about how Little Tokyo is shifting, what are your thoughts?

Glen: Before, everyone used to know each other in Little Tokyo, people knew who my mom was, and I was, because of the area and the restaurant business. But now it’s completely changed. Whether it’s better or worse, I’m not sure, but for business it’s okay. It’s tough from generation to generation, not sure if the younger generation cares anymore. To preserve Little Tokyo, (pause) its tough, most Japanese Americans or Japanese businesses are going to other locations. Working in downtown, I’ve seen the changes. The older generation, like my mother’s, are getting tired and not everyone is going to do what their parents did.

Caroline Shin, Glen’s business partner joins us in the conversation.

So, knowing how Little Tokyo is changing, is there where you always wanted to start your own restaurant or were you looking at other locations around L.A.?

Caroline: It organically worked out that way. When we first started playing with the idea, we didn’t know what kind of restaurant, we just knew it was going to be something. It was just the right timing, his uncle was retiring. But Glen wanted to come back to Little Tokyo, but never planned to come back. In the end, it was kind of like a path that he needed to take.

Glen: It just seemed like it was meant to be for some reason.

Can you tell me about the name JiST Cafe?

Glen: We came up with the name. Caroline had the idea for Gist. Caroline had a J in her name, and it also is a nod to my mom’s name. We wanted to keep the T for Tokyo Café for Tokyo Gardens.

What was your inspiration for JiST’s menu?

Glen: We talked about doing a different kind of concept, but I felt that breakfast was an area that people do right. Plus, I wanted a change of lifestyle; I had been working a dinner service schedule all the time. So I thought this concept of breakfast, doing it this way, would be better for me.

Why breakfast?

Glen: I want people to come in here and have things that are done right, as far as breakfast. People put extra emphasis on dinner, because of a high ticket price, but breakfast is difficult. As a chef, the first thing you learn to make are eggs. People think eggs are easy. But eggs are very difficult, very sensitive.  And going back to our conversation about Little Tokyo, I realized that what Little Tokyo was missing was a breakfast place. I do have some Japanese elements, but Little Tokyo is a mixed crowd, and for the business, I want to cater to a broad crowd.

You’ve been open for a few weeks now, how’s it been going?

Glen: The customers that come in, it’s amazing how many people come to see my mom. And how many people come to see her. People I grew up with, I haven’t seen them in over 20 or 30 years and they’ve come by. It’s just amazing.

Timing with the restaurant, with our partnership, it just seemed like the right time. In life, what I’ve learned, opportunities are always coming your way. If you keep your eyes open you’ll see it. If you don’t, they’ll pass by. When opportunities come, it’s about whether you have the guts to take it. Business is very risky. Caroline was the one who said, “If you don’t take the risk you’ll never know.”

Right now, it’s just fun. Our timing to open this place just happened to fall into place. The timing was right on.

JiST is located at 116 Judge John Aiso St, Los Angeles, California 90012
www.jistcafe.com
Phone: (213) 792-2116
Hours of Operation: Tues – Fri: 5am – 3pm Sat& Sun: 8am – 4pm.

saiqaSaiQa is the pen name of Saba Waheed. She is an LA-based writer and performer. Her writing has appeared in Hyphen Magazine, SAMAR Magazine and in the anthology SALT (South Asian Literary Thing). She performed for the first time during Teada’s new work series in 2010. She also made a short film, When they started bombing… that weaves together personal narrative and images from news to convey the complex story of the Afghan war, post-9/11 immigrant experience, and the media’s role during wartime. The film received honorable mentioned by the Watson Institute at Brown University. She co-hosts and produces the radio show Flip the Script on KPFK and is co-editor of SAMAR Magazine. By day, she conducts low-wage worker research at the UCLA Labor Center.

SaiQa performed at EVOKE: A New Works Festival Celebrating South Asian Voices, directed by Alison M. De La Cruz. Learn more.

 

Ami PatelAmi Patel is a queer South Asian American woman currently based in Los Angeles. She is first and foremost a poet, and is committed to using her words to tell stories in multidisciplinary art forms. She is a two time VONA fellow and a Visual Communications Armed With A Camera Fellow. Her short film Still Life With premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and she has performed twice at Tuesday Night Cafe. Currently, she is a Masters student in the Asian American Studies Program at UCLA.

Ami performed at EVOKE: A New Works Festival Celebrating South Asian Voices, directed by Alison M. De La Cruz. Learn more.

Follow her on Twitter at @amiagogo.

Shyamala MoortyShyamala Moorty is a choreographer, interdisciplinary performance artist, and facilitator who is dedicated to healing, connecting, and transforming individuals and communities. A founding member of the Post Natyam Collective, she has toured in their collaborative shows in Europe, India, and the U.S. She also is a company artist with TeAda Productions where she has created two seminal solo shows: “RISE” featured in the book Desi Divas: Political Activism in South Asian American Cultural Performances by Chris Garlough (2013), and “Carrie’s Web” featured in the book Contemporary Indian Dance by Ketu Katrak (2011). Shyamala holds an MFA in choreography from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures, teaches at several community colleges, and facilitates healing through the arts workshops in the community. Shyamala has received two ARC grants from the Durfee Foundation and the Center for Cultural Innovation and two Professional Artist Fellowships from the Long Beach Arts Council.

See Shyamala perform at EVOKE: A New Works Festival Celebrating South Asian Voices, directed by Alison M. De La Cruz. Learn more.

Find her on www.facebook.com/shyamala and follow her on Twitter at @shyamaladance.

Performance Run:
Thursday, March 14 – Saturday, March 16 at 8pm
Sunday, March 17 at 2pm

Running Time: 90 minutes

General Admission: $10

Click here for tickets.

 

Puja MohindraPuja Mohindra, a Chicago native, is an actor and writer based out of Los Angeles. She is a graduate of the A.C.T. MFA Acting program, and is most often recognized for her digital media work, including the comedic sketches, “Sh*t White Girls Say To Indian Girls,” “To Ashton Kutcher, Love Kimmy Patel,” her recurring roles in the web series, “Debt Collectors” and “The Lady’s Discourse,” as well as, “Friendly Confines,” a comedic web series she co-created, co-wrote, and co-produced. She recently finished work on the horror film, Muck. Other recent film work includes the comedic feature, I’m Not Like That No More, where she played alongside comedians Paul Rodriguez and Felipe Esparza, the winner of “Last Comic Standing.” Puja’s dramatic work can be seen in the films, SilhouettesForeign, and Second Best, which have traveled to festivals worldwide.

She returns to her stage roots this year when she brings her one-woman show, Good Indian Girl to Los Angeles and New York. Other favorite theater credits include: Tara in A Widow of Now Importance at East West Players, Belle in the American Conservatory Theater’s & South Coast Rep’s production of A Christmas Carol, the title role in Jean Anouilh’s Antigone, & Mary Warren in The Crucible. TV Credits include: “Undercovers,” “CSI: Miami ,” “Three Rivers,” “Miami Medical,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “All My Children,” “Valentine,” and the HBO pilot, “1%.” She is a former dance company member of Natya Dance Theatre in Chicago and has toured across the U.S. and India performing the classical Indian dance, Bharata Natyam. When she’s not on set or stage, she has a passion for being in the audience.

See Puja perform at EVOKE: A New Works Festival Celebrating South Asian Voices, directed by Alison M. De La Cruz. Learn more.

Find her on Facebook.com/pmohindra and follow her on Twitter at @pujamohindra.

Performance Run:
Thursday, March 14 – Saturday, March 16 at 8pm
Sunday, March 17 at 2pm

Running Time: 90 minutes

General Admission: $10

Click here for tickets.

 

Cynthia Ling LeeCynthia Ling Lee instigates thoughtful, friction-filled dialogues between American postmodern dance and North Indian classical kathak. Dedicated to intimate collaborative processes, she creates intercultural, interdisciplinary work that has been presented throughout Asia and the United States at venues such as Dance Theater Workshop (New York), Asia Society (New York), National Asian-American Theater Festival (Los Angeles), Painted Bride Arts Center (Philadelphia), Kuandu Arts Festival (Taipei), and Chandra-Mandapa: Spaces (Chennai). Cynthia was the recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, an Asia-Pacific Performing Arts Exchange Fellowship, a Santa Monica Individual Artist Fellowship, and two ARC grants. Influential teachers and mentors include Simone Forti, Eiko & Koma, Judy Mitoma, Pallabi Chakravorty, Bandana Sen, Kumudini Lakhia, Anjani Ambegaokar, and the contact improvisation community. Cynthia holds an MFA in choreography from UCLA.

See Cynthia perform at EVOKE: A New Works Festival Celebrating South Asian Voices, directed by Alison M. De La Cruz. Learn more.

Find her on Facebook.com/cynthialinglee.

Performance Run:
Thursday, March 14 – Saturday, March 16 at 8pm
Sunday, March 17 at 2pm

Running Time: 90 minutes

General Admission: $10

Click here for tickets.

214x214_sheetal-gandhiSheetal Gandhi is a Los Angeles-based director/choreographer/performer. Her work has been described as “eloquent, inventive, virtuosic dance-theater” by the Philadelphia Inquirer utilizing “incisive commentary offset by brilliant touches of humor” (Narthaki). Inspired to explore the complexities of human existence, she creates characters of profound depth, integrity and humanity. Sheetal uses a hybrid movement vocabulary influenced by Kathak, Modern and West African dance, as well as complex rhythmic structures, vocal percussion and singing, to craft a virtuosic and evocative physical/vocal vocabulary. Sheetal’s career has spanned genres and disciplines including her work as a creator and performer in Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion, playing a leading role in the Broadway production of Bombay Dreams, dancing throughout Ghana with the traditional West African dance company Novisi, and singing with the New York based, all-female a cappella group, Anamcara. In 1995, Sheetal’s love for rhythm and culture took her back to her roots in India for an extended time to study the North Indian classical dance form, Kathak. In exploring traditional forms of dance and music through decidedly postmodern compositional structures- all to comment on the social world in which we live- Sheetal’s work references the past, grounds itself in the present, but comments on the possibilities of the future. In both form and content, Sheetal’s work reflects her love for tradition (both cultural and disciplinary) with the equally urgent desire to break from it.

Sheetal is a recipient of a 2012-13 NDP Touring Award for her acclaimed solo dance- theater work, Bahu-Beti-Biwi and the work is currently touring nationally and internationally. Her passion for intercultural exchange continues to lead her to collaborate with artists and communities both locally and abroad, embracing opportunities to expand the limits of imagination, creativity and human compassion. Visit her at www.sheetalgandhi.com or stay in touch with her activities on Facebook!

See Sheetal perform at EVOKE: A New Works Festival Celebrating South Asian Voices, directed by Alison M. De La Cruz. Learn more.

Find her on Facebook.com/sheetalgandhi and follow her on Twitter at @LethalSheetalG.

Performance Run:
Thursday, March 14 – Saturday, March 16 at 8pm
Sunday, March 17 at 2pm

Running Time: 90 minutes

General Admission: $10

Click here for tickets.

Snehal DesaiSnehal Desai is the inaugural recipient of the Drama League’s Classical Directing Fellowship. He has directed at theaters around the world including: the Public, Yale Rep, the Old Vic, Ars Nova, EST, Pan Asian Rep, Theater Emory, the Alliance Theater, and Dad’s Garage. Snehal is a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and was a literary fellow with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is a former resident director at EST. Favorite directorial works include: Baal, Marisol, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Heartbreak/India, Good Egg, and One Night with Rael.

As an actor and writer, Snehal has toured his solo show, Finding Ways to Prove You’re Not an Al-Qaeda Terrorist When You’re Brown to sold out audiences across the United States including performances at the Yale Cabaret, Theater Rhinoceros, and the HERE Arts Center in New York. He is also the author of Sita/Sat and Lost Boy. His plays have been developed or produced by Desipina, Terra Nova Collective, PS122, Pan Asian Rep, the Lark, HERE Arts Center, and Old Vic New Voices in London.

See Snehal perform at EVOKE: A New Works Festival Celebrating South Asian Voices, directed by Alison M. De La Cruz. Learn more.

Find him on Facebook.com/snehaldesai and follow him on Twitter at @snehal_desai.

Performance Run:
Thursday, March 14 – Saturday, March 16 at 8pm
Sunday, March 17 at 2pm

Running Time: 90 minutes

General Admission: $10

Click here for tickets.

Kamaljeet AhluwaliaKamaljeet Ahluwalia is part of the new wave of Asian musicians emerging from the UK. A disciple of the legendary maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, she uses her Indian classical roots to walk an innovative path on the Santoor, a rare and exquisite hammered dulcimer/zither that can simultaneously explore vast sublime melodies and intricate detailed rhythmic patterns. She has collaborated with a diverse array of artists including Guy Sigsworth, Mercury Music Award winner Talvin Singh, Fruit Tree, Universal Taal, Bombay Dub Orchestra and acclaimed dancer and choreographer Akram Khan to name a few. She has performed throughout the UK and internationally as part of the multi-art production Journey into India, as well as many solo performances across India, Europe, and North America. This imaginative musician is currently collaborating with guitarist Giuliano Modarelli on their fresh project, One Hundred and Six Strings which breathes new life into a proud and ancient Indian classical jugalbadhi (duet) tradition by fusing the strengths of their versatile instruments. She is also recording with producer and musician Wayne Nunes from Warrior Charge, has recorded for the film score of Brahmin Bulls and touring with Gingger Shankar.

In addition to being a passionate musician, Kamaljeet is an accomplished painter and has had many group and solo exhibitions around the globe. Her paintings deal with the emotional content of Indian classical music. Indian classical music has many factors, rules, and themes to consider: Rasa (emotional content), Raga (main melodic characteristics) and Rhythm. To bring these intangible themes to view she uses vast sweeps of colour on canvas and board, and carefully chooses and researches colours to preserve the essence of the music. Currently, a specially commissioned body of work is touring the USA as part of Himalaya Song – a multi artform production, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

See Kamaljeet perform at EVOKE: A New Works Festival Celebrating South Asian Voices, directed by Alison M. De La Cruz. Learn more.

Find her on Facebook.com/kamaljeet.ajimal.9

Performance Run:
Thursday, March 14 – Saturday, March 16 at 8pm
Sunday, March 17 at 2pm

Running Time: 90 minutes

General Admission: $10

Click here for tickets.

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