About the 18 Mighty Moutain Warriors
THE 18 MIGHTY MOUNTAIN WARRIORS grew out of a comedy ensemble called the New Godzilla Theater in residence at Asian American Theater Company in San Francisco from 1993-1994. Since its premiere production, In Deep Shabu Shabu, in September 1994, the group has written and produced a dozen feature shows, performed numerous workshop productions and benefit one-night stands around the greater Bay Area, and toured nationally and internationally at colleges, universities, arts festivals and theatrical venues. The group is also known for its various “performances” at bars and clubs in San Francisco’s Japantown and Tenderloin districts. Over the years, the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors have established themselves as a new force in Asian Pacific Islander American arts. They’ve been touted as the “Asian American version of In Living Color,” were picked as the “Smash Hit” of the 1996 Hong Kong Fringe Arts Festival (the second largest in the world after the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and were said to have “blown any episode of SNL out of the water in the past decade.” They wield their unique brand of comedy--culled from influences ranging from Monty Python’s Flying Circus to In Living Color to Culture Clash to Hong Kong slapstick comedies and action movies--both to entertain and to provoke thought about the issues that affect Asian Pacific Islander Americans. However, the cross-over appeal to non-Asian Pacific Islander American audiences is very strong as well, because the group approaches issues in a non-didactic manner and believes that laughter knows no cultural boundaries.
The group has had the honor to tour and collaborate with veteran Chicano political theater group Culture Clash whom they regard as mentors, friends and--after a few beers--love slaves in a manner not seen outside of HBO's Oz. At Berkeley’s La Peña Cultural Center in May 1997 and at San Francisco’s Asian American Theater Company (with principal support from the Creative Work Fund) in May 2000, they developed original theatrical pieces that explored the intersection of the Chicano/Latino and Asian Pacific Islander American communities. The 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors also collaborated on a play with the critically acclaimed San Francisco theater group Campo Santo at Intersection for the Arts in December 1998.
As artists and activists, the group seeks to explore and articulate images of Asian Pacific Islander Americans alternative to what has been perpetuated in the mainstream media. One of the group’s strategies is to push the envelope as comedic performers in both style and content, as well as to break down prevailing stereotypes and promote more positive images. Much of the group’ s impact lies in its lack of hesitation in lambasting the Asian American community itself as well. Almost all the faces of Asian America are represented, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Filipino backgrounds, allowing the group to represent a wide range of cultures and perspectives.