Velina Hasu Houston

Librettist Playwright Lyricist

Velina Hasu Houston is an internationally celebrated writer with over 28 commissions in theatre and opera.  While she is foremost a playwright, her writing includes theatre, film, television, essays, poetry, and journalism.  In New York, US nationwide, and globally, her work has been produced to critical acclaim at prestigious institutions such as Manhattan Theatre Club, Old Globe Theatre, Los Angeles Opera, Theatre X (Tokyo), Amagasaki Piccolo Theatre (Osaka), and several others.  Her work in musical theatre has been produced in Los Angeles and Beijing.  Her plays are studied around the globe.  For film and television, she has written work-for-hire for several independent producers as well as Columbia Pictures, Taft Entertainment, Lancit Media, PBS, Eleven Arts Studio, Sidney Poitier, and others.  She penned the screenplay for the film short, Path of Dreams, directed by Tamara Ruppart, which has been garnering awards nationwide and globally, including best screenplay at the London International Filmmakers’ Festival 2019.  She also penned teleplays for Desert Dreamers, narrated by Peter Fonda; and for Journey Home, an adaptation of Yoshiko Uchida’s novels about Japanese American World War II forced incarceration; and wrote several episodes for Lancit Media/PBS’ Puzzle Place.   While Houston is multiethnic Japanese, African American, Blackfoot Pikuni Native American, and Spanish, her work in theatre is the most-produced work about the Japanese female experience in the U.S.  A former Japan Foundation fellow, she writes extensively about the Japanese Diaspora, including Japanese Americans, Japanese Canadians, Japanese Brazilians, and Japanese British.  Her work extends beyond the cultural front to explore the transnational.  She adapted Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women into a play about the return of Japanese Americans to Los Angeles in the post-WWII era after closure of the forced incarceration camps and their interface with the African American community.  In 2015, she served as Resident Playwright of The Pasadena Playhouse, State Theatre of California.  Currently, she is Bookwriter for a New York musical theatre project.  Honored by the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, Japan Foundation, Wallace Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and others, she founded graduate studies in playwriting at the USC School of Dramatic Arts, where she is Distinguished Professor of Theatre in Dramatic Writing, Director of Dramatic Writing, and Resident Playwright.  Formerly, she taught in the Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting program at the University of California at Los Angeles.  A Fulbright Scholar, she was on the U.S. Department of State's Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission for six years.  She has served as visiting faculty at Kyoto University, Aoyama Gakuin University, and Doshisha University; and participated in an international research seminar at Keio University.  Her archives are with the Library of Congress, Washington DC; and the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild of America-West, the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, and the League of Professional Theatre Women; and an Associate Artist of Playwrights’ Arena, Los Angeles.  She is represented by Mr. Jack Tantleff, Paradigm Talent Agency; and Mr. Michael C. Donaldson, Esq. (Attorney), Donaldson and Callif.