Philip Kan Gotanda


Professor, Department Vice Chair

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. Mr. 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. Mr. Gotanda holds a law degree from Hastings College of Law and studied pottery in Japan with the late Hiroshi Seto. Mr. Gotanda is a respected independent filmmaker. His 3 films: Life Tastes Good, Drinking Tea, The Kiss, all have been official entries at the Sundance Film Festival. A CD of Mr. 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.) Mr. Gotanda’s libretto for the opera, Both Eyes Open, with composer Max Duykers, is scheduled to premiere June of 2022 at the Presidio Theater in San Francisco. Mr. Gotanda is working on music projects with composer, Shinji Eshima, and multi-instrumentalist, David Coulter. Mr. Gotanda is presently engaged as an inaugural recipient of the Dramatists Guild 2021 Playwrights Legacy Initiative, an award acknowledging Mr. Gotanda’s body of work in American Theater. Mr. Gotanda is a professor with the Department of Theater Dance and Performance Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He resides at the Berkeley Art Plant.

Education: J.D. University of California, Hastings College of Law; B.A. in Japanese Art, University of California, Santa Barbara