fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company

Left to right: Steven Hao, David Yee, Deb Lim, Tiffany Ledesma, Marissa Orjalo, Allison MacKenzie, Crystal Lee.

Founded in 2002, fu-GEN Theatre is devoted to providing a home for the Asian Canadian theatre artist, nurturing their voices and producing works of the highest artistic calibre that explore the Asian Canadian experience. fu-GEN is the longest running professional Asian theatre company in Canada, has fostered over 150 emerging artists over the last 20 years, produced the 49 list (49 plays by women of colour that you can produce tomorrow), and created the first-ever International Conference and Festival on Asian Canadian theatre in 2010. Some notable works that have been nurtured at fu-GEN include Banana Boys, Kim’s Convenience, Singkil, and lady in the red dress.

Share a time that you had to deal with racism in the course of your career;

The creation of fu-GEN back in 2002 was to fill a gap. Our people and our stories were not properly represented and we sought to fix that. During the past 20 years, our community has battled xenophobia in many forms, but most recently, we’ve seen a spike in violence and racism during the pandemic. Some of our audiences’ that once gladly consumed our narratives began uncovering hostile, unsupportive, and racist behaviour towards us. This is an ongoing battle for our community as we slowly begin gathering in theatres again. What does it mean to open up again (both literally and figuratively) as a community amidst the violence and hatred we’ve endured these last three years?

Share something that you are proud of achieving as an Asian Canadian working in professional performing arts;

We’re proud to have had a hand in uplifting the voices of so many brilliant Asian Canadian artists. In the last 20 years, we’ve helped nurture over 200 emerging artists in different capacities. It just goes to show what a community can do for one another, and how fostering emerging artists changes the course of their careers. Our community has come a long way, and there’s still so much more we hope to achieve. fu-GEN is proud of its growth through community and we aim to continue this community building in the years to come!

What does it mean to you to be an Asian-Canadian working in the performing arts?

It means to persevere through the myths that damage our communities, to dedicate ourselves to a story that begs to be told, to rebel against form and tradition for innovative storytelling, and to further unravel and understand our experiences and histories. Above all, to be a working Asian Canadian artist is to actively challenge our own perception of art while also defining the world around us with our artistic presence.