Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Roberta Uno Asian American Women Playwrights Scripts Collection
Born in Hawaii and raised in Los Angeles, Roberta Uno intended to study medicine when she enrolled at Hampshire in the mid-1970s, but grew increasingly interested in the theatre. After graduation in 1977, she took a year off to explore playwriting before entering medical school, however that year turned into a career.
Hired by the Office of Third World Affairs at UMass, Uno developed the idea of establishing a truly multicultural theatrical company, which in 1979, developed into the New World Theater, a theater in residence dedicated to the production of works by playwrights of color. Serving for many years as the Theater's artistic director and as associate professor of theatre at the University, Uno helped produce dozens of plays by both new and established playwrights, many from outside the mainstream of university-affiliated theatrical companies. During her time at UMass, she also earned an MFA in 1994 for her work on Diana Saenz, "A dream of canaries : the staging of a new work."
Since leaving UMass, Uno has served as a program officer for arts and culture at the Ford Foundation in New York City. Among other works, she is author of The Color of Theater: Race, Culture, and Contemporary Performance (London, 2002) and editor of Unbroken Thread: An Anthology of Plays by Asian American Women (Amherst, Mass., 1993) and Contemporary Plays by Women of Color: An Anthology (London, 1996).