Desdemona Chiang is a Chinese-American theatre director of Chinese descent, and co-artistic director of Azeotrope in Seattle, WA. Her directing credits include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Playmakers Repertory Company, and ACT Theatre. She directs in a variety of genres, including Shakespeare, new plays, and musicals.

Desdemona Chiang
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (BA)
University of Washington, Seattle (MFA)

Early lifeEdit

Chiang was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and immigrated to California in the United States when she was three years old. With the encouragement of her parents, she grew up thinking she would be a doctor.[1] She attended the University of California, Berkeley, with an intention to study pre-medicine. It was there that she found connection and community in the theatre department, and eventually graduated with a double major in Biology and Theatre. She then attended the University of Washington School of Drama for a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre Directing.[2]


Chiang is known for her visceral, no-nonsense approach to theatre, with her distinct point of view as an immigrant and Asian American woman. She articulates her interest in using theatre to spark social discourse: "What is the thing that we're not talking about? What is the thing that we think we're talking about, but we're not talking about, or no one's ever bothered to think about?"[3]

In 2010, Chiang co-founded Azeotrope with her graduate school colleague Richard Nguyen Sloniker, to create theatre focusing on stories about invisible and marginalized people. Their most well-known production, Sound by Don Nguyen, was a bilingual show performed in American Sign Language and spoken English, and featured a mixed ensemble of deaf and hearing actors. Chiang learned American Sign Language for this project and co-directed with Seattle-based deaf actor Howie Seago.[4][5]

Some of Chiang's most notable productions include a re-imagined The Winter's Tale at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival set in Dynastic China and New World America featuring an Asian American and multicultural cast,[6] As You Like It at California Shakespeare Theater where the forest of Arden is transformed into an urban jungle,[7] and a modern-day setting of The Crucible at PlayMakers Repertory Company.[8] She has also directed at numerous regional theatres across America, including the Alley Theatre in Houston, Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA.

In 2016, Chiang received The Vilcek Foundation's Award for Creative Promise in Theatre.[9]

Awards and nominationsEdit

  • 2019 Princess Grace Award - Robert and Gloria Hausman Theater Honor[10]
  • 2016 Vilcek Award for Creative Promise in Theatre
  • 2016 Gregory Award for Outstanding Direction - Constellations
  • 2015 Gregory Award for Outstanding Direction - Measure for Measure
  • SDC Sir John Gielgud Fellowship in Classical Theatre
  • 2012 Gregory Award for Outstanding Direction - Jesus Hopped the A Train


  1. ^ "Desdemona Chiang: The Lost Generation". The Vilcek Foundation. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  2. ^ "Biology major Chiang, director of 'Smart People' at Long Wharf, won over by arts". New Haven Register. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  3. ^ "Desdemona Chiang's theater directing spans genres and geographies". The Seattle Times. 2017-10-04. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  4. ^ "She's the Boss - City Arts Magazine". City Arts Magazine. 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  5. ^ "Cochlear controversy dramatized in 'Sound'". The Seattle Times. 2015-09-10. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  6. ^ Group, Sinclair Broadcast. "'Winter's Tale' spans continents and emotions". Mail Tribune. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  7. ^ "Cal Shakes' 'As You Like It' Evokes Ghost Ship and Tent Cities". KQED. 2017-06-02. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  8. ^ "The Crucible at PlayMakers Rep Is Arthur Miller's Cautionary Tale About the Salem Witch Trials' Rush to Judgment | Triangle Arts and Entertainment". Triangle Arts and Entertainment. 2016-10-19. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  9. ^ Barone, Joshua. "Blanka Zizka of Wilma Theater Wins $100,000 Vilcek Prize". ArtsBeat. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  10. ^ "2019 Award Winners". Princess Grace Foundation-USA. Retrieved 2019-11-19.