Remembering Ernest Abuba

A headshot of Ernest Abuba, a bald older Asian man, with flowers in the background
a black arrow pointing downward

We are devastated by the passing of Ernest Abuba, an award-winning actor, director, playwright, performance artist, and teacher whose career spanned over 50 years and who appeared in 100 productions of stage, film, and television.

Ernest Abuba had a deep history here at La MaMa. He and Tisa Chang co-founded Pan Asian Repertory Theatre in 1977 at La MaMa after performing a bilingual adaptation of A Midsummers Night’s Dream for Ellen Stewart. Abuba was also involved with the Third World Institute of Theatre Art Studies (TWITAS) and Native American Theatre Ensemble (NATE), as well as on the board of directors of resident company H.T. Chen & Dancers. The first Asian American to play Sakini in Teahouse of the August Moon and the first Asian American as Macbeth in Shogun Macbeth, he paved the way for Asian Americans in theatre and the arts. His work with Pan Asian Rep, the first and largest professional Asian American theatre company in the U.S., has nurtured thousands of artists and contributed greatly to Asian American and theatre history.

Image 1: Photo of Ernest Abuba in Pacific Overtures
Image 2: Production photo from A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Tisa Chang and produced at La MaMa in 1974
Image 3: Photo of Shigeko Suga and Ernest Abuba in Accade Domani at La MaMa in 2003
Image 4: A portrait of Artaud by Ernest Abuba hanging at the entrance to Ellen Stewart's home
Image 5: Production photo from Lear Rex at La MaMa in 1998
Image 6: Pan Asian Repertory Theatre in An American Story at La MaMa in 1980