Saturday, April 6, 2024

Updates - Archives - Professional Websites

A note that I haven't updated this blog for the past four years. 

I've become more thoughtful about what and how I put certain things in the world due to the changing nature of social media and our society's culture, especially in relation to my role working at a large LORT institution and sitting in a position of authority and influence.

I continue to hold onto this blog as an archive of thoughts and feelings that I agreed with at the time, and to some degree still hold true now.

I will continue to use this website as a placeholder for my professional work; and will continue to update my Directing and News page as an updated resume, articles, and other tidbits.

Feel free to reach out to me directly if you're curious as to what I'm up to!

All my best,

Peter J. Kuo

Monday, July 20, 2020

Theatre, Covid-19, and White Supremacy

Dear American Theatre,


On, June 3rd, at an online theatre conference, a prompt was given to the tune of, “What can we learn from Covid-19 to reopen our theatres, with an attention and focus to dismantling White supremacy and anti-Blackness?”


The breakout room I was in was a microcosm of our industry, with six white men, one Black woman, and me, a queer Asian American cisgender male with an invisible disability standing on the unceded land of the Ohlone people.

I won’t get into the details of how the room’s power dynamics unfolded, but rather how that dynamic led me to an answer.


But first, I want to acknowledge, we are still at a time of great civil unrest. #BlackLivesMatter and will continue to matter, until police brutality stops and White supremacy is extracted out of our nation’s culture.


So, what can Covid-19 teach us about our theatre industry; centering the dismantling of White supremacy and anti-Blackness, as well as uplifting Black and Indigenous folx, and other PoC voices?

Answer: White supremacy--is a virus, and anti-Blackness is a symptom. Racism, White exceptionalism, unconscious bias, fragility, toxic masculinity, assimilation, and so many more manifestations of oppression are all symptoms of this disease. And we are all infected. White, Black, Asian, Cis, Trans, Hetero, Queer, disabled, rich, poor, a virus does not discriminate.


I’m sorry. If you grew up in a Westernized society, if you consumed Western media, were educated in a Westernized school, engaged in a Westernized social gathering, walked down a Westernized street; then you have been exposed to White supremacy--and you have touched your face, your eyes, your mouth--and you are infected.

Now, this disease doesn’t affect everyone the same. Black and Indigenous folx have a massively compromised immune system, because their thymus gland has been working overtime since they were born, fighting the infection internally and externally on a daily basis.


The harmful effects of these symptoms? Pain, shortness of breath, fever, delusion, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, depression, anxiety, a sore throat from screaming and crying, mental and emotional trauma, difficulty walking, difficulty breathing, difficulty living--death!

Now am I talking about Covid-19 or am I talking about White supremacy?

White folx and People of Color, if you are not displaying those harmful effects, it does not mean you are not infected, it just means you’re asymptomatic. And you might be carrying a strain that is more dangerous for others, because you have allowed that virus to grow, and mutate in your body.


Without taking the safety precautions of washing your hands regularly with a privilege check, wearing the mask of education, taking anti-racist social distancing precautions, applying the anti-bacterial gel of transformative justice, you have unknowingly spread a dangerous strain--coughing micro aggressions, sneezing macro aggressions, shaking gaslighting hands, leaving droplets of triggered traumas, recycling the air of racism. I have been taking those safety precautions. Some of us have been taking those safety precautions. And unless you have been doing these things as well, I can’t safely be in a room with you. AND, I can’t assume you're taking those necessary precautions, because for some of you, you just got your test results. So, you need to PROVE to me you will prioritize our safety before I meet with you, before I begin an artistic collaboration with you.


How does that affect the theatre? Well, our buildings are infected, our theatres are infected, our classrooms, our textbooks, our rehearsal halls, our audiences, our artists, are all infected. There is an outbreak of White Supremacy and the state--of theatre--is infected. And as we look towards reopening, let us take the steps of prepping are spaces to fight Covid-19 and White Supremacy.


But first, let’s talk about getting an accurate diagnosis. Right now, I’m just playing the role of journalist, I’ve looked at the data, consulted with scientists, and I’m reporting, this virus exists, and we’re all infected. But what strain do YOU have? What are YOUR symptoms? How do you diagnose YOUR White Supremacy?

Don’t just turn to someone else who is infected and ask. And don’t turn to the sickest and weakest and ask; just because their vulnerability to this virus is apparent, and the effects of it are hitting them the hardest, does not make them infectious disease experts. Don’t just go see your “Black” friend.

Perhaps you think you just have a mild strand, and you can educate yourself with books written by medical professionals, like White Fragility, which is a whole ‘nother problem for another time, but anyways. Or check out the resources of a medical lab such as artEquity, consultant webMD or Huffington post, Teen Vogue, (but be cautious, like webMD, you can accidentally misinterpret your symptoms). Approach all these things with the same critical thought you give to diagnosing a personal illness, what are the credentials of those you are researching?

If you have the time, capacity, and funds, consult an expert--that you should be compensating. See a qualified nurse who has been practicing social justice work, visit a doctor who is steeped in EDI education and has an established practice. Yes, they’re also infected, but they’re knowledgeable enough on how to diagnose your illness, while keeping their symptoms at bay and taking precautions to avoid spreading the disease. They can work with you to create a plan to minimize the spread of your infection. And for those who are experiencing painful symptoms, they can offer treatment on your path to recovery.

To be clear, I’m not saying you should dismiss the experience of those who have been affected by the virus the most. Survivors of White supremacy are experts of their experience, not on diagnoses and treatment.


Speaking of seeking treatment:

Be cautious of taking the meds prescribed to someone else. They’re probably helpful, but everyone should be working with their medical team to ensure the right meds and right doses are being prescribed specific to your case. You might not be ready for surgery. You may not be ready to discuss how your “innocent” question of “but do they actually live there?” is steeped in White supremacy and anti-Blackness. Because Black people have to disproportionately prove their belonging to a space more than White folx. You may still need to take your “White privilege is real” pills.

Recognize, some over the counter drugs may simply suppress the symptoms, but not battle the virus. The #BlackLivesMatter’s statement is a cough syrup. The safety pin is there to reduce your fever but the infection is still there and you may still be spreading it.

Be weary of the nurse in training--those who think they’re ready to draw your blood but are only trained to take your temperature. They can try to help, but may cause harm. Be leery of the webMD expert, or the snake oil dealer. All potentially good resources of information, but still you need experts from different schools of thought to properly treat what ails you.

But like most illnesses we know there are some good general treatments and habits that will benefit everyone. Exercise, vitamins, sleep: Unconscious bias training, anti-Racist education, Decoded videos. And there are strong support groups for those in recovery. Seek those out that are led by a trained facilitator.

Now, perhaps you have a good friend who is a doctor or a nurse. Take them out for a meal (or, due to Covid-19, an at home delivery), get a free consultation, and listen. And, if you trust this person enough to seek their advice, don’t tell them they’re misdiagnosing you.


Okay, so we have this pandemic--Covid-19--White Supremacy. How do we deal with it so we can gather again, safely?

While I’m hear, let me lend you some of my expertise: What does spread-prevention and treatment look like? Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Justice?


What does this look like in the theatre? Is diversity a cure? For our industry, a lack of representation is a symptom. “Diversity” is hydration, it’s necessary but doesn’t get to the core of the illness. Sticking the bodies of People of Color into theatres, offices, rehearsal halls, stages, classrooms that are infected without proper cleaning, and with artists and audiences that are also infected and not practicing safety precautions? That exposes those who are most vulnerable to more dangerous strands. It’s like hydrating or cleaning with infected water. It compounds the sickness.


What about inclusion? That’s the cleaning, the “wear your mask” signs, the “wash your hands” education. For those who are most vulnerable, how are places and people being prepped for their arrival? Your boardroom, your faculty, your artists, your audiences who may be asymptomatic to the harmful effects--should not be inviting the most vulnerable into your spaces unless the asymptomatic know they have to use proper safety precautions. Regular hand washing, social distancing, disinfecting surfaces, wearing personal protective equipment. It’s the unconscious bias training, the community guidelines, the anti-racist work. That’s how you make vulnerable people feel included, you let them know that you are aware of the disease, you are aware of those who are infected, AND that you are doing everything you can to reduce the risk of additional exposure and harm upon contact. That’s inclusion.

Welcoming vulnerable populations shouldn’t seem like a burden, it should be the default safety of everyone.


What about Equity? Equity is an acknowledgment of our reality, that the most vulnerable actually need MORE support. It is an acknowledgement that not everyone is inclusive. Not everyone believes in science. There are deniers of Covid-19, there are deniers of the death rate, there are people not wearing their mask, there are people who want to open up too soon when there is not enough education on the dangers of this virus to the most vulnerable. Not everyone is taking precautionary steps to reduce risk to others.

This acknowledgment for Equity, also means knowing asymptomatic people have more time, energy, and access. They have the ability to expose themselves to untreated, disease-ridden areas without further harm to themselves, and they get to reap the benefits of accessing those areas. Through herd immunity, they can go to the beach, they can go to the pool party, to in-person classes, to get their nails done, their haircut, to sporting events; enjoying the pleasures and privileges of rest, relaxation, education, and social interaction, without harmful effects. They get a slight fever, but they don’t need a ventilator.

Equity means, if you have the privilege of a strong immune system, you are spending your time and energy to do grocery shopping for the immunocompromised, you are educating other people on social distancing and safety precautions, you are utilizing your privilege of health and immunity and the benefits that it grants to you, to distribute access and needs to the vulnerable. True equity is recognizing this imbalance, and using your privilege to correct it, knowing your exposure to more harm pales in comparison to those at high risk.

Theatre leadership, you are the governors deciding how to manage and open up your state. Dividing the resources of your theatres equitably to serve your entire community. When you provide commissions to writers of color, hire artists of color, make performance accessible to those who are in need, please do the labor to hold other healthy folx accountable for possibly exposing those vulnerable to White supremacy to a dangerous strand of the disease. Know that other spaces aren’t inviting them in because it’s “too much work.” Know when a vulnerable person walks into your space, even if you have cleaned your space, they have walked in from a world that has not. So they will need more resources, more support, more mentorship, more guidance; AND because you’ve reaped the benefits of a healthy immune system that has gotten you to your position, you should provide those things. But don’t disingenuously ask, offer meaningful support and change; and stand with those who have been marginalized. Do not force YOUR recovery plan; discover with their needs and provide. Some of us have been seeing our doctors, and we know when we need additional support, but historically, you’ve been washing your hands for 5 seconds, when we asked for 20 we got push-back. So let us know you’re ready to sing Happy Birthday twice. In fact, go further. Some of us may not yet be diagnosed, or even misdiagnosed, so you--as the governors of the field--must recognize when someone is sicker than they appear, and put the safety measure of support into place, using the benefits you’ve reaped from your privilege.


So how about a vaccine? Justice is the scientific research leading us down the path to a vaccine, and we’re on a long road. Destroying this disease by dismantling the systems that make the weak weaker and the strong stronger. Stepping above prevention and healing, and moving towards the eradication of the disease entirely! Will the American Theatre invest in the vaccine to White supremacy? Will we invest in justice? Not as quickly as the world will find the vaccine to Covid-19. The vaccine to White Supremacy will take a life-time because, remember, there are anti-vaxxers out there and they’re in our industry.


Everyone, let’s educate ourselves on the value of science and our medical professionals. Take the same time and resources we spend on trying to re-opening through Covid-19, and invest in the eradication of White supremacy and anti-Blackness, so we eventually safely gather in theatres ALL together. Not everyone is affected by this pandemic in the same ways. And not everyone is affected by White supremacy in the same ways. But fighting them both will require collective thought, action, and work. So, let’s get to it.


Some resources:

Claudia Alick - Calling Up Justice:


Monday, June 24, 2019

#CloseTheCamps Fundraiser 6/29/19 at 8 p.m. - NYC


Peter J. Kuo & 3K² Productions present

#CloseTheCamps Action Event

A Reading, Support Resources, and Ally Training

I Never Saw Another Butterfly
by Celeste Raspanti

Directed by Rebecca Etzine and Peter J. Kuo

Featuring a cast of mostly Jewish and Latinx actors: 
Antonio Araujo, Danny Bryck, Rick Burkhardt, Rachel Caplan,
Alex Chester, Gloria Cordona, Chris Costa, Max Helfand, Elizabeth Klein, 
Maribel Martinez, Bess Miller, Sarita Ocón, and Lauren Slakter.

Saturday, June 29 at 8:00 p.m.

Ernst C. Stiefel Hall, Arnhold Hall
The New School
55 West 13th Street, Rm. i400
New York, NY 10011

Open to the public. Early donations to the following organizations are encouraged.
Mention "#CloseTheCamps Action Event" when donating.

Immigrant Defenders Law Center in Los Angeles,

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in New York,
and Freedom for Immigrants in Oakland.

Resources on how to financially support these organization will be provided at the event.

Following the reading, attorney Zachary Zwillinger will facilitate a workshop on ways allies can better support and protect undocumented immigrants and refugees.

Alarming and heartbreaking news has been continuously coming in the past week accounting the reprehensible conditions under which immigrant children, some of which are infants, have been detained in camps at the border. From overcrowding, to malnutrition, to lack of access to basic needs such as soap, toothpaste, and diapers; the children's treatment is inhumane to say the least. Following the latest leak of ICE's "family op" plan to target 2,000 undocumented immigrants and refugees, and a tweet mentioning the "removing of millions," a need became clear to draw more attention to the deplorable actions of our government, support organizations that are helping these individuals, and educate our society on ways we can help.

To spread awareness, we are producing a reading of I Never Saw Another Butterfly, the story of Raja, a young Jewish girl who is separated from her family during World War II to Terezin, a camp where 15,000 Jewish children passed through. Raja, who lived through it all, provides care and hope for the children, at a time when only despair can be found.
Can't make it? Donate directly to
 Immigrant Defenders Law Center
Mention "#CloseTheCamps Action Event" when donating.

Additional Event Personnel
Producers: Pia Haddad, Peter J. Kuo
Associate Producer: Nikki Meñez
Stage Manager: Jonathan Castanien
Composer: Rick Burkhardt
Graphic Design: Andrés López-Alicea

Special Thanks: Laura Huerta Castro, Jake Clark, Jessica Cochran, 
Kimberly Colburn, Kevin Kopjak, Russell Lehrer, Lisa Okamoto, 
Chantel Rodriguez, Lauren Yee.

Produced by special arrangement with


Venue provided with generous support by
The New School, College of Performing Arts, School of Drama.

Rehearsal venue provided for this event by The Drama League.


March for Immigrant Justice NYC - 6/29/19 at 10 a.m.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

World Premiere of No Baby by Blake Bishton; Directed by Peter J. Kuo

featuring Jessica Bettencourt, Brett Bezad, Rose Dolezal, Alexandra Merritt Mathews, and Matthew Thomas Scott.

Tickets: FREE!

April 21, 3:00 p.m.
April 25, 7:00 p.m.
April 26, 9:30 p.m.
April 27, 7:00 p.m.
April 28, 8:00 p.m.

Karen and Britney don't know one another, and they never will. However, they find themselves on parallel journeys when they both become pregnant. While Britney helplessly watches her options for legal abortion vanish from her world, a late stage miscarriage threatens to destabilize Karen beyond the point of recovery.

This production is part of the School of Drama’s New Voices Playwrights Festival, running February 17-24 & April 21-28, 2018, featuring four new plays in repertory highlighting Drama’s graduating MFA playwrights, directors, and actors of 2018.

Set Design Maiko Chii†
Costume Design Rachel Dozier-Ezell
Lighting Design Alejandro Fajardo†
Sound Design Kenneth Goodwin†
Production Stage Manager DeeDee Katchen*
Assistant Stage Manager Jonathan Castanien* 

School of Drama Theater
151 Bank Street, 3rd Floor New York City

Free general admission. Seating is limited; reservations are recommended.
Call Ticket Central at 212.279.4200 or visit

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association.
†Member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Recycled from Peter J. Kuo on Vimeo.

One of my favorite shoots from last Fall's short film class.
Recycled: A Horror Comedy
Written, Directed, and Edited by Peter J. Kuo
Cinematography by Jessica Bettencourt
Sound and Light Operator Haan Hoon Jong
Art Director & PA Pauls Macs
Featuring Rose Dolezal and Miranda Elaine

We had a two and a half hour shoot with the actors, with one hour of set-up. It was insane, stressful, and fantastic. There are about a dozen shots we lost because of time, but improvised well so we got what we needed. The camera battery died, so the last minute of the film was shot an iphone. HA!

Thrilled with how it came out! Loved the team I worked with.

Monday, August 28, 2017

3rd Year Thesis MUTT: Let's All Talk About Race

MUTT: Let's All Talk About Race!
by Christopher Chen
Directed by Peter J. Kuo

It’s 2013, Obama has just been re-elected, and The Republican Party finally realizes it has a problem with race. In attempt to win the 2016 presidential election, it backs a candidate who is a mixture of every race on earth. A wild and surreal comedy that skewers all political parties to the point it becomes indiscernible of what is satire and what is today’s frightening reality.

Saturday, 9/30 @ 8:00 p.m. (Free Opening Reception)
Wednesday, 10/4 @ 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, 10/5 @ 7:00 p.m.
Friday, 10/6 @ 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, 10/7 @ 3:00 p.m. (Post-show Discussion)

New York, NY, 10014

Featuring Brett Bezad, Shaotian Cai, Katharine Chin, Rose Dolezal, Zach Lusk, and Jillian Macklin.

Set Designer - Libby Stadstad
Costume Designer - Rachel Dozier-Ezell
Lighting Designer - Solomon Weisbard
Sound Designer - Mark Van Hare
Projection Designer - Sarah Martinez
Production Stage Manager - Carolynn Richer
Associate Stage Manager - Arielle Goldstein 
Assistant Director - Pauls Macs

FREE general admission. Seating is limited; reservations are recommended. To make reservations, call Ticket Central at 212.279.4200 or search "MUTT" in

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why the Roundabout Casting of Noises Off is Problematic

The recent cast announcement for Roundabout Theatre Company's Noises Off (brought to my attention on Facebook by Kate Rigg) is extremely problematic. The all-white casting of a play about a company putting on a production paints the picture that theatre is still only by and for white people. The arguments defending this choice--casting based off of talent or an artistic vision--are equally as problematic.

Okay, so let's just argue the casting of this show was based off the nine actors who were the most talented who auditioned for these roles. However, if the best talent argument is used, why do we stop at disregarding race? Why not gender, too? Why not a male Belinda or female Selsdon? "But the roles are written for specific genders, not for specific races!" So what this tells me is when a role is not ethnically specific the default for someone casting that role is white. I'd be curious to see what the default would be for non-gender specific roles. "What? Non-gender specific roles? That doesn't make sense! Some of those characters are supposed to be in love with each other! Boys can't be in love with other b..." Yeah, I think an organization like SCOTUS is going to disagree with that.

Fine. Let's disregard the gender restriction and go back to ethnic specificity. Is it to be believed that not one actor of color who auditioned was as equally talented to play any of these nine roles as the person who was cast? And let me remind you that Roundabout states on its website that it is an Equal Opportunity Employer. (Thank you Miki Yamashita) The implications that there are no talented actors of color are far beyond what I could explain in this blog, so I'm going to create an entire separate blog which I will link here when it's done.

Screen-cap from Roundabout Theatre Company's Website

But, I mean...come on...really?!?


Perhaps there were better actors of color for some of these roles, but for whatever reason the producers or director couldn't envision them in the roles. Again, this reads to me as an artistic team that only sees non-ethnic specific plays as all white. This production's casting makes a statement to the world and audiences that; only white people create theatre. White actors, white directors, and white stage managers. These choices seem to me unimaginative and lazy. 

You might ask, "What would a diverse cast add?" Farce is all about setting up and tearing down expectations. What if Brooke was Asian? If we play to stereotype, an Asian actress who always wears glasses may be trying out new contacts for this show, which would explain her constant loss of them. Additionally, to play against stereotype of Asians who are studious and the model minority, how funny could it be that she is the space cadet of the cast? What if Dotty was a Latina? Again, it feeds into stereotype of a Latina house keeper, but then how much more resonate could Dotty's lines read about being unhappy with playing that type of role? Make Lloyd, the director, a person of color, because it would explain Lloyd's troubling behavior in the show! For the most part, directors of color who are directing non-ethnic specific plays are always feeling an added amount of undue pressure. In three simple choices we've added an extra depth to three characters. See what a little imagination can do?

Still having a hard time seeing Noises Off cast diversely? Then, I think you need to admit that you are someone who sees white as the default. I don't need to sit here and tell you you're wrong. But, I am going to tell you that you need to own it. Own that you only see a White America. Own that this production is choosing to work with white actors and tells the story that a white director only works with a white stage managers and white actors. Own that this is the story that is being told on stage. Exclaim it to the world; "MY DEFAULT WORLD IS WHITE!!!" Is that difficult? Is it uncomfortable? Does it feel wrong? Like I said, I don't need to sit here and tell you, you're wrong. Your own conscience seems to be telling you that.

Regardless if a white dominate American theatre is not the artistic vision you intended for the stage, that is the hidden message that is being put and told on the stage. And if that's the story you want to tell, I know a target market of confederate flag waving, #AllLivesMatter hashtag using, and anti-immigrant Trump lovers that you should be reaching out to.

But if you're ready to join the progressive side of America, where in just a few decades the minority will become the majority (which is already true in some cities such as Los Angeles), then start looking for that diversity in your artistic choices. Start looking for that in your actors, your directors, your designers, your writers. Don't get left behind. Or at least, don't start scratching your head when "your" audience starts disappearing, stops donating, and can no longer be found when you're the one looking for work. Then again, if drowning out the necessity of diversity with these #WhiteNoises helps you sleep a night...

(Thanks Rodney To for the #WhiteNoises inspiration.)


UPDATE: Previously I had called this the "seemingly all-white cast" because I didn't know the entire cast very well, so I didn't want to presume that none of those actors might be mixed race and be white passing. That being said, my friend Trevor Biship on Facebook reminds me that "casting is about making a statement. Regardless of 'passing,' this statement is pretty clear to me." And he is correct, this casting statement reads all white to me. And now after doing my research on the individual cast members, the most ethnic diversity comes from actors with some Armenian and Albania's backgrounds...

Additionally, I previously suggested a male Poppy, but got a few reminders from people that her female anatomy becomes a crucial plot point in the play.

Also, after looking back at the casting notice for this production from Backstage, the notice asked for submissions from ALL ETHNICITIES...well, that seemed to go well for them...Either the company backed out at the last minute of making diverse casting choices, OR there was very little intention to actually cast diversely, and the ask for all ethnicities was purely for show. I'm noting director 
Jeremy Herrin as well as casting by Jim Carnahan and Stephen Kopel for the future. It would be great to get a response from them or RTC about what happened in this casting process that started with all ethnicities in the submission but ended with an all-white cast.