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Last year for Lodestone Theatre Ensemble

May 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Lodestone Theatre Ensemble in Los Angeles has been breaking new ground for Asian American artists for the past 10 years. But at the end of the year, the curtains will close for the last time. "I'll never forget that first meeting because I had a condo and we did it in the common area, and 60 people arrived and for something like this, that's really amazing," said Tim Lounibos, co-founder of Lodestone Theatre.

Lounibos, one of the three founders of Lodestone Theatre, recalls 10 years ago when they decided to create an outlet for Asian Americans to act in roles with subject matters that all people can relate to, not just rolls for "Asian" people.

"Lodestone really provided a playground, a theatre, a space, a safe haven for us to be the leads, to speak with our clear American accents and really allowed us to be ourselves," said actress Tamlyn Tomita.

Tomita is a veteran actor who has hundreds of television and movie roles to her credit, including Waverly in the hit "Joy Luck Club." She's among many now famous faces that have come through Lodestone Theatre displaying their talents.

"Grey's Anatomy's" Sandra Oh, "Lost's" Daniel Dae Kim, John Cho, Kelly Hu, "Ugly Betty's" Alec Mapa, Camille Mana, and James Kyson Le all worked with the Lodestone Theatre Ensemble.

"This is an example, all three of us have been on network shows and, you know, had series regular roles, and 25 years ago that was unheard of," said Alec Mapa. "I mean when I was growing up I could point to George Takai on Star Trek and Mioshi Imeki on The Courtship of Eddie's Father and that was it."

"I think if you just work hard and keep in touch with your peers and support through Lodestone and other community groups it will come around," said Camille Mana.

"I remember first hearing about Lodestone when I first moved to L.A. and was just looking for a community of actors and artists to just be involved with," said Heroes' James Kyson Le

"We've always been about pushing the boundaries and doing something that really we weren't thinking of the term at the time, but now realize looking back that we were a ground breaking Asian American Theatre Company in this country," said Lounibos.

Lounibus says the plan was for 10 years from the start, so this will be the last year. But he's confident Lodestone won't soon be forgotten. The company's legacy lives on in the talents and the faces of so many. Now that the ground has been broken, others can build on it.

"Right now I'm sure there's another three or four artists gathering together in some small dark corner thinking about the next Lodestone," said Lounibus.

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