Peeling (1995-2005) was a New York City-based collective of writers, performers, directors and producers. Using autobiography as a departure point, their collaborations were an exploration of contemporary Asian American identities through the development of original theater work. Originally founded in 1995 as “Peeling the Banana” by director/performer Gary San Angel at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the group developed many of its pieces through physical theater and improvisation work, which were later transcribed; others were written and further developed through group workshops. At the time, no other such group existed on the East Coast and many talented artists got their start in or had at one time been members of the group.
In 2000, Jin Auh, with San Angel’s blessing, re-formed the group with fellow members Gita Reddy, Fitz Mangubat, Aileen Cho, Ed Lin, Regie Cabico, Carla Ching, Michel Ng, and Dan Bacalzo. It reinvented itself as a collective, initiating a committee-based organizational structure, elected its first official leadership, and simply became known as “Peeling.” It became a more defined theater group, with fully written shows, clear directing and solidified producing roles. There was also an emphasis on familiarizing members with the full range of theatre production, from performing and writing to producing and directing.
In 2002, aware of the importance of Peeling to A/PA history and its precarious existence solely in members’ and audiences’ memories, Gita Reddy, with assistance from fellow Peelers, began to compile a timeline history of the group’s development and performances. On April 17, 2010, the A/P/A Institute at NYU hosted a reunion for Peelers during which members’ materials were gathered together to form a Peeling Archive. Spanning in date from 1995 to 2003, the collection comprises of video footage, photographs, original member-written scripts, event flyers, correspondence, performance contracts, and other records documenting Peeling’s performances, workshops and retreats, and members’ work within and outside of Peeling.
To learn more about the Peeling Records, view the survey report conducted by our Graduate Scholars in A/PA Archives. The Records will soon be housed at the NYU Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.