An overbearing mother. An avoidant father. A troubled daughter. They are among the characters that populate Clifford Odets' acclaimed 1935 drama "Awake and Sing!," about three generations of a Jewish American family living in the Depression-era Bronx.
Though "Awake and Sing!" has been called Odets' "most profoundly Jewish work," today it opens at the Public Theatre in New York City with a cast of all Asian Americans, led by the Philippines-born Mia Katigbak. Produced by the National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO), "Awake and Sing!" won Ms. Katigbak the Obie in 2014, and is notable for its subtle commentary on the transcendent aspects of ethnicity.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Ms. Katigbak noted that the acting industry hasn't grown notably friendlier towards Asian American actors. When asked why not, Ms. Katigbak muses, "Is the stereotype right that we’re not as fiery as we should be? Should we be a lot more demanding and vocal?”
Whatever the reason, it seems likely that this most recent run of NAATCO's "Awake and Sing!" will accomplish NAATCO's stated mission of "assert[ing] the presence and significance of Asian American theatre in the United States, demonstrating its vital contributions to the fabric of American culture."