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Guide to the Elizabeth Wong Papers CEMA 16
CEMA 16  
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Collection Details
 
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  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Contents note
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Series Description

  • Title: Elizabeth Wong Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 16
    Contributing Institution: UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 20.5 linear feet 45 document boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 1 diskette box
    Date (inclusive):
    Abstract: Elizabeth Wong is an award winning Chinese American playwright and a television screenwriter specializing in Asian American issues. The Elizabeth Wong Papers consists of personal and professional materials generated by Wong during the period 1980-2003. The collection consists of seven series contained in 48 archival boxes occupying approximately 21 linear feet of space. The bulk of the collection contains Wong’s literary works in journalism, television and particularly theatre and related correspondence, publicity and professional files
    Location note: Del Norte (Boxes 46 and 47 are oversize)
    Language of Materials: The collection is in English.
    creator: Wong, Elizabeth, 1958-

    Conditions Governing Access note

    Service copies of audiovisual items may need to be made before viewing or listening. Please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

    Conditions Governing Use note

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    Donated by Elizabeth Wong, July 14, 1998

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], Elizabeth Wong Papers, CEMA 16. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Scope and Contents note

    The Elizabeth Wong Papers consists of personal and professional materials generated by Wong during the period 1980-2003. The collection consists of seven series contained in 48 archival boxes occupying approximately 21 linear feet of space. The bulk of the collection contains Wong’s literary works in journalism, television and particularly theatre and related correspondence, publicity and professional files. Also included are several folders of correspondence from fellow writers, friends, students, and the public.
    The second largest component of the collection, Series VI: Subject Files, includes material about specific individuals and subjects as well as a large collection of scripts by notable writers in the fields of television and theatre. Also contained in this collection are 42 diskettes on which Wong saved drafts of scripts and correspondence; due to the significant differences between versions, the scripts have been printed and made available here. However, due to the considerable number of correspondence, it will be printed out as needed at the request of the researcher. Altogether, the Elizabeth Wong Papers provides critical insight into Wong’s creative, personal and professional life as a prominent contemporary Asian American playwright.

    Biographical/Historical note

    Elizabeth Wong is an award winning Chinese American playwright and a television screenwriter specializing in Asian American issues. Wong's plays include the Playwright's Forum Award winning play, Letters to a Student Revolutionary (1991), which premiered off-Broadway and has been produced both abroad and in numerous U.S. cities. Wong also was a staff writer for the ABC sitcom All- American Girl, the first network series to feature an Asian- American woman as its central character. Her plays have been published by Dramatic Publishing Company, and are included in anthologies such as Contemporary Plays by Women of Color, Women on the Verge: Seven Avant-garde Playwrights, and Unbroken Thread: Six Asian American Playwrights. Letters is about two women -- one Chinese, one Chinese American --whose lives converge around the Tiananmen Square massacre. It was produced by Pan Asian Repertory in New York and by theaters in Los Angeles and Seattle. Letters to a Student Revolutionary has toured both nationally and internationally, and was the only U.S. invitee to the 1992 Singapore Arts Festival.
    Among Wong's latest plays are The Happy Prince (1997) and The Play Formerly Known as The Happy Prince (1996), which are both adaptations of an Oscar Wilde short story, commissioned by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Among her other works are the Explorator-yum (1997), China Doll (1995), The Concubine Spy (1992), and Kimchee and Chitlins (1990). Kimchee and Chitlins is a play concerning relations between Korean Americans and African Americans. It was premiered at the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. Wong described her work best when she stated, "my work is about response." Every play Wong has written was in itself a response to issues she felt were ignored or needed attention. Through her plays she was able to bring to light issues ranging from the tragic events in China and the way women seek political meaning in today's society to the Black boycott of Korean stores in Brooklyn. Raised in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, Wong's childhood was harsh. She always dreamed of the world outside the ghetto and as a result, undertook as her role model Anna May Wong, America's first Chinese American actress. Hoping to learn from Anna May's journey as an artist, she began researching her extensively. She soon became intrigued in the Broadway success of a graduate from her high school, David Henry Hwang, and as a result, moved to New Haven. She started attending Katz's dramaturgical course and was encouraged to write by many Yale School of Drama graduate students. Determined to pursue her interests, she moved to New York and was accepted to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where her career as a playwright began.
    Wong is a graduate of the University of Southern California and New York University. During the 1980's she worked as a field producer at KNXT-TV Channel Two News, and as a reporter for both The San Diego Tribune and The Hartford Courant. In the early 1990's, she worked as a writer for Walt Disney Studios, a dramaturg at the Actors Theater of Louisville, a playwriting teacher at David Hwang Playwriting Institute and as an op/editorial columnist for the Los Angeles Times, commenting on social issues and cultural experiences. Most recently, Wong has been an assistant professor at Bowdoin College and teaches playwriting at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also serves as a member of the Circle Repertory Theater Playwright's Project, the Women's Project Lab, the Dramatist's Guild and is an advisory board member of Theatre Emory, Atlanta. She resides in Los Angeles.

    Series Description

    Series I: Biographical, 1991-2001, contains articles and profiles from various periodicals, such as USC Alumni, Chicago Sun Times, Asian Pacific Alliance for Creative Equality, Pararasis Magazine and the Los Angeles Theater Magazine. Also included are resumes and curriculum vitaes, personal calendars and a televised interview on Dateline. The material in this series is arranged chronologically, then alphabetically by title.
    Series II: Awards, Fellowships and Residencies, 1990-2003, have been grouped together on the basis that these are experiences that are exclusive to Elizabeth Wong (as opposed to Series IV: Festivals, Retreats and Workshops, events that are particularly focused on multiple writers). Included here are two awards (Jane Chambers Award including drafts and recordings of Wong’s acceptance speech and Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival Award), three fellowships (Bush Foundation, Catawba College and Walt Disney Studios) and two residencies (Bowdoin College and University of Southern Maine). At Catawba College, Wong’s play China Doll was rehearsed and re-worked; both rehearsal and final drafts from this residency are located here (see also Series V for more material relating to China Doll). While at Walt Disney Studios, Wong worked on scripts for Roseanne, Colors United, and Seinfeld, drafts of which are also located here (see also Series V for more of Wong’s television scripts). This series is arranged alphabetically by title then chronologically within the same years.
    Series III: Correspondence, 1990-2004, contains personal and business correspondence to and from Elizabeth Wong. Included is correspondence with various theater companies, as well as correspondence with various potential agents. In some cases correspondence grouped based on an event or organization (Women Who Write Plays, Center Theater Group) however a majority of the material here was grouped according to year. It is important to note here that Elizabeth Wong maintained correspondence in both analog and digital form. This series contains a large amount of correspondence still in the original digital format (3 ½” diskettes) with no corresponding analog version. This material will be made available to researchers upon request. This series is arranged chronologically then alphabetically within the same years.
    Series IV: Festivals, Retreats and Workshops, 1992-2003, have been grouped together on the basis that these are events exclusive to playwrights (as opposed to Series II: Awards, Fellowships and Residencies, events exclusive to Elizabeth Wong). Included here are materials relating to two major festivals: Humana Festival of New American Plays and Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival (for material relating to the KCACTF Cohen Award, see Series II) as well as documents from retreats and workshops. This series is arranged alphabetically by title, then chronologically within titles.
    Series V: Writings, 1980-2004, is the largest series in this collection. The series has been grouped into four sub series as follows: Journalism/Periodicals contains articles written for the Los Angeles Times, Headline Muse (a quarterly online magazine or “e-zine”) and Courant Paper (the first newspaper for which Wong wrote); Television contains materials (including reviews, story ideas, writer’s notes and drafts of scripts) relating to All American Girl (the first television sitcom to focus on an Asian-American family, it was produced by Walt Disney Studios and starred Margaret Cho and Amy Hill), Cybill and Divas Las Vegas (a collaborative project between Wong and Rodney Vance which never aired); Theater is comprised of materials (including correspondence, drafts of scripts, publicity, research, reviews and writer’s notes) relating to 21 different theatre productions including to 16 published works (such as China Doll, Letters to a Student Revolutionary, Kimchee and Chitlins, Dating and Mating in Modern Times, Amazing Adventures of the Marvelous Monkey King); Miscellany contains two handbooks, a small selection of poetry and a speaking engagement at Pepperdine University in 1999. These sub series are arranged alphabetically; materials within sub series are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically by title.
    Series VI: Subject Files, Bulk dates 1991-2004, is grouped into four sub series and is comprised of Wong’s collected research files including actor biographies and headshots, periodicals and scripts (for more scripts see Series VII: Teaching). Those materials that do not fall into one of these three categories have been grouped together at the end of the series and titled miscellany. Each sub series is arranged is arranged alphabetically; scripts are listed in bibliographic form and are therefore alphabetized by author’s last name.
    Series VII: Teaching, 1988-2002, contains class handouts, teaching notes, and other teaching materials from classes Wong has taught at Bowdoin College, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Southern California. Also included here are a number of television sitcom scripts that Wong had obtained specifically for the purpose of teaching (as opposed to those scripts in Series VI: Subject Files which Wong collected for her own research). These materials are arranged chronologically then alphabetically within the year.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    African American theater
    African Americans -- playwrights
    American drama -- Chinese American authors.