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American Ethnic: Post-Show with Alka Nayyar and Samuel Park

Alka Nayyar is a communications manager for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. At the IDCMS and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Nayyar works with minority members of the media about issues pertinent to the South Asian community. Prior to joining the State of Illinois, Nayyar managed public relations and global recruitment at MicroStrategy, Inc., a software company specializing in business intelligence, data warehousing and data analysis applications. Nayyar is also Lead Choreographer of the Chitrahar Cultural Academy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting cultural awareness and diversity through the performing arts. By choreographing, teaching and performing South Asian folk, modern, classical and fusion dances, she aims to promote an accurate understanding of South Asian culture and its global impact. Nayyar has collaborated with many Chicago Theater companies, including Rasaka Theatre Company, PROP THTR Group, Lifeline Theatre, Halcyon Theatre, and Peoples Theater, Silk Road Theatre Project, Vitalist Theatre and Porchlight Music Theatre.

Samuel Park is a full-time faculty member in the Department of English at Columbia College. He teaches introductions to drama, Shakespeare, American drama an literature. Park earned his B.A. and M.A. with honors at Stanford University and his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California, where he wrote a dissertation entitled “The Performance of Race in Asian American Drama.” His fields of interest include drama as genre, performance theory and Asian American literature. Park's forthcoming publications include reviews in Shakespeare Bulletin and Theatre Journal, as well as a scholarly article entitled “Racial Melancholia in Ira Sachs' The Delta,” which will be part of an anthology of critical essays published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Park is also the author of the novel Shakespeare's Sonnets, recently published by Alyson Books. He is the director of a short film of the same name, which played at numerous international film festivals. Park is originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

This post-show discussion immediately followed the performance of American Ethnic, a spoken word and hip-hop infused exploration of how the media shapes the way we see race, gender and ourselves. American Ethnic was written and performed by hip-hop theater artist Usman Ally, NEA Award-winning performer Idris Goodwin and three time HBO Def Poetry Jam performer Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai. It was directed by Remy Bumppo Artistic Associate Nick Sandys.

Remy Bumppo's thinkTank features short dramatic works with a focus on provoking timely conversation about a social, political or economic issue in which Chicago citizens have a stake. A post-show discussion follows, led by speakers from the community representing various viewpoints on thinkTank's theme. Past topics include immigration (2007) and national security (2008).


Recorded Saturday, March 14, 2009 at The Greenhouse Theater.

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