AYA OGAWA is a Tokyo-born and Brooklyn-based writer, director, and translator for the theater. She challenges traditional notions of the American aesthetic and identity by creating plays infused with a multiplicity of perspectives, and by incorporating influences from outside the U.S. - of style, form, and content. Her work refines an international language of contemporary theater.
As playwright/director in New York City, Ogawa’s 2003 A GIRL OF 16 (Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center) was hailed by The New York Times for its “stunning visual sense.” Her 2008 OPH3LIA (HERE) was called “riotously alive…great theater” by The New York Times. Ogawa’s ARTIFACT was featured in CUNY’s 2007 Prelude Festival and the 2009 Performance Mix Festival (Joyce Soho). She was commissioned by The Foundry Theatre to create a work in collaboration with Adhikaar, a human rights organization serving the US Nepali community. The resulting piece, JOURNEY TO THE OCEAN, was presented by The Rubin Museum in 2011. Her play LUDIC PROXY commissioned by The Play Company, explored our relationship to technology (from nuclear power to VR and video games) through the events of Chernobyl, Fukushima, and into the future. Its 2015 premiere at WalkerSpace was described as “beautifully conceived” by the NYTimes. She was a playwright in residence at The New Museum for X:ID a research-driven pop-up repertory theater designed to examine the shifting ethical boundaries surrounding intercultural cross-play on contemporary American stages. Most recently, she wrote, directed and performed in the 6-person cast for her play THE NOSEBLEED (formerly titled Failure Sandwich) at the Incoming! Series at the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival 2019. She is currently directing Kristine Haruna Lee’s play SUICIDE FOREST in its world premiere production at The Bushwick Starr.
As a translator, she has been commissioned to translate numerous Japanese plays into English that have been produced in the U.S. and London, including over a dozen plays by Toshiki Okada, writer/director of chelfitsch theater company. Time Out called her rendition of Okada’s ENJOY (Play Company at 59E59, 2010; published by Samuel French) an “effortless, idiomatic translation”; The Village Voice hailed her translation of Okada’s FIVE DAYS IN MARCH (Witness Relocation at LaMama, 2010) as “a miracle of transposed idiom.” Her translation of Okada’s ZERO COST HOUSE was presented at Philly Live Arts 2012, Under the Radar Festival 2013 and Yokohama, Japan. Most recently her translation of Okada's Quiet Comfort premiered at JACK. She is serving on the selection committee for the Japan Playwrights Association’s new publication series Japanese plays in English translation.
Aya has performed nationally and internationally. She originated and performed numerous roles with the International WOW Company including JR Oppenheimer in The Bomb and the title role in Alice’s Evidence. Time Out NY hailed her performance as Chomsky in The Loneliness of Noam Chomsky by the Butane Group. International credits include her role in the world premiere of the award-winning Emperor and Kiss with Rinko-Gun Company, Tokyo; she was selected as part of the artist team representing the U.S. at the International Theater Institute’s 2006 Congress in Manila and 2008 Congress in Madrid for which she co-created and performed in the resulting collaborative pieces; and the European premiere of Young Jean Lee’s Songs of the Dragon Flying to Heaven at the Vienna Festival.
She is the recipient of 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 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) . She has been a guest artist at Mount Holyoke College, Yale School of Drama, and Stony Brook University, as well as a mentor at The Orchard Project.