Over the last four decades, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda has been a major influence in the broadening of our definition of theater in America. The author of one of the largest bodies of Asian American-themed works, he has been instrumental in bringing stories of Asians in the United States to mainstream American theater as well as to Europe and Asia. Gotanda has specialized in investigating the Japanese American family, writing a cycle of works in theater, film, song, and opera that chronicle Japanese America from the early 1900s to the present. Gotanda is also a respected independent filmmaker. His three films, Life Tastes Good, Drinking Tea, and The Kiss, all have been official entries at the Sundance Film Festival.
Gotanda wrote the libretto and Max Giteck Duykers composed the music for the new opera Both Eyes Open. It was invited to have its premiere in New York as part of OPERA America’s 2023 New Works Forum. Gotanda is now working on music projects with composer Shinji Eshima and multi-instrumentalist David Coulter. A recording of Gotanda performing his original songs in a 1980 concert with violinist DH Hwang is now available on Yokohama, Ca. Records. (Listen to an excerpt from the concert here)
Gotanda is engaged as an inaugural recipient of the Dramatists Guild Foundation's Legacy Playwrights Initiative, an award acknowledging his body of work in American theater. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences inducted Gotanda as a member in 2023.
Gotanda holds a law degree from the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, and studied pottery in Japan with the late Hiroshi Seto. He resides at the Gotanda Art Plant in the Berkeley Hills with his wife, Alameda Arts Commissioner Diane Takei Gotanda, and their dog, Cosmo Topper Finn McCool.