Aya Ogawa is an award-winning Brooklyn-based playwright, director, performer and translator whose work reflects an international viewpoint and utilizes the stage as a space for exploring cultural identity and the immigrant experience. They challenge traditional notions of the American aesthetic and identity by creating performances infused with a multiplicity of perspectives and languages, and by incorporating influences from outside the U.S. – of style, form, and content. As a theater-maker, they frequently use a collaborative creative process with performers and designers and pushes the form with an eye not only on spoken text, but physicality, musicality, and interactivity.
They wrote and directed oph3lia at HERE (hailed by The New York Times as “great theater”); Journey to the Ocean, commissioned by The Foundry Theatre; and Ludic Proxy, commissioned by The Play Company, which the NY Theatre Review described as “enchanting and poetic, deeply in tune with the spirit of many different cultures.” Most recently they wrote, directed and performed in the 6-person cast for her Obie Award-winning play THE NOSEBLEED (Under the Radar Festival 2019; Japan Society & Chocolate Factory Theatre 2021; Lincoln Center Theatre LCT3 2022; Woolly Mammoth Theater 2023, national tour 2024) . They also directed Haruna Lee's Suicide Forest at The Bushwick Starr and at A.R.T.-N.Y. Theater for Ma-Yi Theatre Company. They also created a digital version of the second act of LUDIC PROXY: FUKUSHIMA during the pandemic, presented by Japan Society. 9000 Paper Balloons (co-created by Spencer Lott and Maiko Kikuchi) was released as a puppet performance film by HERE in November 2021 and ran at Japan Society in October 2022.
They have translated numerous Japanese plays into English, including works by Toshiki Okada, Yudai Kamisato, Takeshi Kawamura, Yoji Sakate, and Satoko Ichihara, among others. Her translations have been described as “fluid and delicious” by American Theatre Magazine, published by Samuel French among many others, and produced in the U.S. and U.K.
They are the recipient of the 2023 Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting; 2022 OBIE Award for the conception, writing and direction of The Nosebleed; 2023 Grants to Artists from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts; The 2023-24 Playwrights’ Center’s McKnight National Residency and Commission; MacDowell Fellow; The Cullman Award for Extraordinary Creativity at Lincoln Center Theater; the MAP Fund grant; President’s Award for Performing Arts, WorkSpace grant and three Swing Space grants from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; an Artistic Fellowship at New York Theater Workshop (where she is now a Usual Suspect); the Van Lier Fellowship and 2017-2024 Resident Playwright at New Dramatists; a HERE Artist Residency; Artist in Residence 2017-2019, Parent Artist Space Grantee and Space Grantee at Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX); recipient of support from NYSCA and the Urban Artist Initiative, and The Women's Film, TV and Theatre Fund by the City of New York Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME). They have been a guest artist/lecturer at Fordham University, UT Austin, Brown University, Mount Holyoke College, Yale School of Drama, and Stony Brook University, as well as a mentor at The Orchard Project.