Survey Conducted: Sun, 2012-11-04 and Thu, 2009-09-17
History: Peeling was a New York City based collective (1995-2005) 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. With sold out performances at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, Second Stage, Highways Performance Space (Los Angeles), the Desh Pardesh Festival (Toronto), as well as numerous colleges and universities, Peeling the Banana presented its poignant blend of poetry, theater, dance, and music to audiences across the country.
Summary: Being a collective, Peeling’s history was documented by records in the possession of various members. The A/P/A Institute hosted a reunion for Peelers on April 17, 2010, during which members’ materials were gathered together to form a Peeling archive. Donors to the archive included Roger An, Dan Bacalzo, Joseph (J.P.) Chan, Aileen Cho, Erwin Falcon, Steven Huang, Calvin August Lom, and Gita Reddy. Spanning in date from 1995-2003, Peeling’s archive comprises of a range of materials documenting Peeling’s performances, workshops and retreats, and members’ work within and outside of Peeling. Video footage on VHS and hi-8 tapes, mostly dating from 1999 to the early 2000s, document performances at various locations, including NYU, the Puffin Room, and Kraine Theater. There are also scanned and print photographs, contact sheets of performances and a collection of artfully posed Polaroid photos of individual members that were often used in a lobby display at Peeling shows. Some photographs are labeled with identifying information. Event flyers and programs, postcards, magazine articles, news clippings and reviews additionally document performances. Annual retreats held in 2000, 2001, and 2002 are variously documented with hi-8 video footage, planning notes, retreat schedules, mission statements, and email correspondence. Of note are instructions to 2002 retreat attendees titled “When I joined Peeling,” which collected information that Gita Reddy used to compile a group history timeline. A copy of the timeline is included within the collection. Workshops are sparsely documented and include a facilitator’s plan for a listening exercise conducted by Calvin August Lom. There is a small amount of administrative files, including a 2002 Peeling income and expenses report, a budget for their 2003 festival of one-act plays, performance contracts, past producer reports, and proposals for participation in theater festivals such as the 1998 Desh Pardesh Festival in Toronto.
Documentation of members’ work include printed scripts of original member-written plays, including “Father Daughter” (Calvin August Lom, Aileen Cho), “Roads to Travel” (Gary San Angel), “Highway Patrol” (Tamina Davar), “Wrestlemania” (Michael Kang), and “Balinese Kiss” (Ngô Thanh Nhàn). There is also email correspondence between members – some coordinating logistics – and flyers from Peelers’ activities outside Peeling.
From the reunion, there is an event flyer and a folder containing oral history sign-up sheets that collected members’ contact information, dates of membership, capacity of involvement, and career after Peeling. There is also a CD oral history of Gita Reddy conducted on July 19, 2010.
The oldest materials are Peeling the Banana brochures written by original founder Gary San Angel. Miscellaneously, there are also Peeling T-shirts that the group designed and printed.
Total Size: 2 linear feet
APA-related Size: 2 linear feet
Languages of materials: English
Location: Fales Library, New York University
Conditions Governing Access: Contact repository for detailed information on conditions governing access.