Velina Hasu Houston, Ph.D., is an award-winning multi-genre author who writes plays, film and television, cultural criticism, poetry, and prose. Across the span of her career, she has been recognized as a Japan Foundation Fellow, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow (twice), a Sidney F. Brody Fellow, and a James Zumberge Fellow (thrice). From 2000 to the present, Houston has had six world premieres of six different plays at such prestigious theaters as The Pasadena Playhouse, George Street Playhouse, Sacramento Theatre Company, and others.
Tea as well as other plays of Houston’s have been produced internationally to popular and critical acclaim. She has been selected along with playwrights Arthur Miller and Paula Vogel to speak on the state of the American theater at the American Playwrights Festival in 2004 sponsored by the University of California at Davis. Houston recently has been hired by Marstar Productions and producer Martin Starger (Sophie’s Choice, On Golden Pond, Mask, A Few Good Men) to write a libretto for a Broadway musical play about the life of Bert Williams. Twelve plays have been commissioned by: Manhattan Theatre Club, Asia Society, Honolulu Theatre for Youth and the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Foundation New Generations Play Project; The Mark Taper Forum (two), Dr. Juli Thompson Burk, the Kennedy Theatre, and State of Hawaii Foundation on Culture and the Arts; The Jewish Women’s Theatre Project, Sacramento Theatre Company (three), and Cornerstone Theatre Company.
Her plays have been produced and presented at such venues as The Pasadena Playhouse, The Globe Theatres (formerly The Old Globe Theatre), Manhattan Theatre Club, Sacramento Theatre Company, Syracuse Stage, Barrington Stage Company, TheatreWorks, George Street Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Smithsonian Institution, Whole Theatre (Olympia Dukakis, producer), Japan Society (New York), L.A. Theatre Works, National Public Radio, NHK Nippon Hoso Kai (Japan, nationwide), Amagasaki Piccolo Theatre (Osaka, Japan), Negro Ensemble Company, Theatre X (Tokyo), Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Lincoln Center Institute, Purple Rose Theatre (Jeff Daniels, producer), Theatre of Yugen, East West Players, San Diego Asian American Repertory Theatre, and others. For film, she has written for Columbia Pictures, Sidney Poitier, PBS, Lancit Media and several indie producers. Currently, her play Kokoro is under option for motion pictures with TCJ Productions LLC.
Her critical essays and poetry are published in journals and anthologies. She has edited two drama anthologies: The Politics of Life (Temple University Press, 1993) and But Still, Like Air, I’ll Rise (Temple, 1997). Besides these volumes, her plays appear in anthologies published by Vintage Books-Random House, Applause Books, Smith & Kraus Books, University of Massachusetts Press, University of Illinois Press, Rowman & Littlefield, Heinemann, and University of Texas Press. In Japan, several documentary films about her work and family have been produced by Japan’s key broadcasting concerns: Nippon Hoso Kai, Mainichi Hoso, and Television Tokyo Channel 12.
A Phi Beta Kappa, she is associate professor, resident playwright, and director of the playwriting program at the University of Southern California School of Theatre. Professional memberships include The Writers Guild of America, west; The Dramatists Guild, and the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights.