First Generation Spotlight: Brenda Wong Aoki

7 Jul

Three time NEA Theater Fellow, Brenda Wong Aoki writes and performs monodramas. Her intense lyrical song/dance/dramas are drawn from her grandfather’s memories of San Francisco during the Great Earthquake, Kabuki legends and her own personal life experience. Aoki’s multidisciplinary performances weave together Japanese Noh, Kyogen Theater, Commedia Dell’arte, movement and voice. She has performed in such venues as the Kennedy Center, New Victory Theater on Broadway, Hong Kong Performing Arts Center, the Adelaide International Festival in Australia, the Esplanade in Singapore, the Graz Festival Austria and the International House in Tokyo.

Brenda’s plays have been produced world-wide: Mermaid, a work for symphony, was commissioned by Maestro Kent Nagano, the award-winning Queen’s Garden was published by Routledge Press and produced at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, Uncle Gunjiro’s Girlfriend was the American representative to the Adelaide International Festival, Australia, Random Acts was produced by the Dallas Theater Center, Kuan-Yin: Our Lady of Compassion was commissioned by the Hong Kong International Festival and performed at the Esplanade in Singapore, and Obake: Tales of Spirits Past and Present was presented at the Kennedy Center and on Broadway at the New Victory Theater. Her CD recordings of The Queen’s Garden and Tales of the Pacific Rim were awarded Indie Awards for Best Spoken Word. Her book/CD Mermaid Meat was released in Tokyo 2008 and her most recent recording Legend of Morning, was released in 2009. She is currently developing a pageant play with world musicians and dancers about the lost continent of MU to premiere in 2012.

Brenda has deep roots in San Francisco. Her paternal grandfather was a founder of Japantown in the 1890’s, and her maternal grandmother was vice president of the first Chinatown garment union in the 1920’s. She is a member of the Dramatist Guild, ASCAP and the Western Arts Alliance. Brenda is a trustee of the Museum of Performance and Design in San Francisco and is an active member of the National Recording Academy. A founding member of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, Aoki continues to teach and perform internationally.

Her message to the Summit:

“I am honored to be considered a “first generation” API writer and look forward to the energy and passion of all the young writers at this summit.”


One Response to “First Generation Spotlight: Brenda Wong Aoki”


  1. 2011 APIA Spoken Word Summit, this week « Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans - August 1, 2011

    […] Brenda Wong Aoki: “I am honored to be considered a “first generation” API writer and look forward to the energy and passion of all the young writers at this summit.” […]

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