East West Players names Snehal Desai as new artistic director

East West Players has found its new artistic director from within its own ranks and will announce on Wednesday that Snehal Desai will succeed outgoing producing artistic director Tim Dang, who has led the downtown Los Angeles theater company since 1993. 

Desai, 36, is set to assume leadership on Friday. He joined East West’s staff in 2013 and has worked as artistic associate and literary manager. The company said he will assume artistic responsibilities immediately and select the 2017-18 season.

As a director, Desai staged the company’s recent productions of “The Who’s Tommy,” “A Nice Indian Boy” and “U.S. v. Bhagat Singh Thind.” He completed his undergraduate studies at Emory University and received an MFA at the Yale School of Drama.

Desai was born and raised in Pennsylvania and resides in Silver Lake, a company spokeswoman said.

Desai said in a company announcement that East West “has proven time and time again that it is a leader in the American theatrical landscape and that the status quo is not enough. We must keep working to provide artists of color the opportunities and visibility they deserve.”  

East West specializes in producing plays and musicals exploring Asian American themes. Located in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of downtown, the company was founded in 1965 and remains the nation's oldest continually operating theater of color.

The midsize company has had annual expenditures hovering around $1.2 million in recent seasons, according to tax filings. 

The company announced Dang’s departure last year. At the time, he said East West was about to complete a five-year strategic plan whose goals have included giving more attention to plays about South Asian and biracial characters.



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