Rick Shiomi is an internationally recognized, award-winning Japanese Canadian playwright, stage director, artistic director, and taiko artist. He’s the recipient of the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, the Ivey Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Vision, as well as other awards.
As a playwright, director, artistic director, organizer, and visionary, Mr. Shiomi has had a major impact on the development of Asian American theatre regionally, nationally, and internationally. He was a founding member and the Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts in Minnesota for 20 years, developing it into a major Asian American theater in the US. As a visionary, he was a part of the development of Asian American theatre in San Francisco, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. And internationally he has had four productions of his plays in Tokyo, Japan.
As a stage director, Rick Shiomi has discovered remarkable new plays and re-imagined classics in the context of the Asian American experience. He has staged over forty productions for theater companies across North America. He directed the world premiere of Caught, by Christopher Chen, at InterAct Theatre for which he received a Barrymore Award Nomination for Outstanding Direction and the play received the Outstanding New Play Award. (Caught went on to many other productions across the country, winning several awards. Chen won a 2017 Obie Playwriting Award for Caught for its NYC production.) Shiomi’s re-imagining of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, reset in Edwardian England, attracted considerable national interest and press coverage, with Asian American actors playing many English lead characters, wiping out all the problematic Asian stereotypes. He re-staged Caught for Full Circle Theater at the Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio in 2019 to sold-out houses and critical acclaim.
Rick Shiomi’s groundbreaking first play Yellow Fever, premiered at the Asian American Theater Company in 1982, winning awards and leading to Pan Asian Repertory Theatre’s New York production, which garnered rave reviews in the New York Times and New Yorker. Yellow Fever is now considered a mainstay of the Asian American playwriting canon. At present Rick Shiomi is the author of over twenty plays and remains very active as a playwright. He’s currently working on Fire in the New World, the third in his trilogy of plays (including Yellow Fever and Rosie’s Cafe) featuring Japanese Canadian detective Sam Shikaze grappling with post-World War II racism in the Powell Street area of Vancouver.