Fil-Am playwrights headed for U.S. stages in 2016

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ERIE, Pennsylvania -- Next year, 2016, will see the works of several Filipino American playwrights staged across the United States.


This increased visibility of Fil-Am works on stage continues to build, after several productions with Fil-Am highlights or involvement on both coasts, such as Lea Salonga in the musical “Allegiance,” a number of Fil-Am actors in the cast of “The King and I” on Broadway and San American Conservatory Theater’s run of “Monstress” by Lysley Tenorio in San Francisco.

Except for A. Rey Pamatmat, who was born and raised in Michigan, the playwrights listed below (as well as the two directors listed) were all born in the Philippines, with most relocating to the U.S. in the ‘70s.


West Coast

In San Francisco, Jessica Hagedorn’s “Dogeaters” will be staged by Magic Theatre starting February 3 at Fort Mason Center (Marina Blvd.).

“Dogeaters” premiered in 1998 at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego and has been staged in New York and Los Angeles. In 2007, it was staged in Manila by Atlantis Productions (now known as Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group).

Adapted by Hagedorn from her own novel of the same title, the play is “a tragi-comic look at the Philippines during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos … with a soft-porn movie star, a Jesuit priest, a Fil-Am Californian, a hustler and deejay, a movie usherette and Imelda Marcos.”

Hagedorn’s recent plays include “Stairway to Heaven” and “Fe in the Desert” for Intersection for the Arts, an arts institution in San Francisco, and theater company Campo Santo. She wrote the book for the musical “Most Wanted,” for La Jolla Playhouse, loosely inspired by the life and crimes of Andrew Cunanan, the Fil-Am who killed fashion designer Gianni Versace.

Aside from Dogeaters, her novels include Toxicology, Dream Jungle and The Gangster of Love. She edited Manila Noir, a short story anthology.

Contact Magic Theatre at +1-415-441-882 or visit magictheatre.org.

In Los Angeles, Giovanni Ortega’s “Criers for Hire” will have its world premiere by East West Players (EWP) from Feb. 11 to Mar. 13 at David Henry Hwang Theater (Judge John Aiso St.).

In “Criers for Hire,” three professional funeral criers in California are eager to welcome 14-year-old Ligaya from the Philippines into their world and teach her their somber trade. However, they soon realize that Ligaya has the opposite effect on people, making them laugh instead of cry.

Ortega is artistic director of Mezçlao Productions. He recently wrote the one-act play “Allos: The Story of Carlos Bulosan” for EWP; which was then staged in Chicago by Fil-Am theater company Circa Pintig.

The play will be directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, founding artistic director of Los Angeles-based theater group Playwright’s Arena. Rivera directed GodInUs Productions’ Manila tour of “Flipzoids” in 2014.

Contact East West Players at +1-213-625-7000 or visit eastwestplayers.org.



In Chicago, A. Rey Pamatmat’s “All The Terrible Things I Do” will be staged by About Face Theatre at Theater Wit (Belmont Ave.). Previews start March 11 and run is from March 17 to April 10.

In the play, Linda, a middle-aged Fil-Am bookstore owner, hires Daniel, a young white aspiring writer. They discover a dark connection that goes much deeper than a love of literature.

“All The Terrible Things I Do” was premiered by Milwaukee Repertory Theater and was recently staged in Boston by Huntington Theater Company.

Praise from critics include On Milwaukee, “searing;” Journal Sentinel, “smart, sensitive;” Greater Milwaukee Today, “well-crafted;” Boston Globe, “a trenchant, multilayered drama;” and WBUR, “riveting;” among others.

Contact About Face Theatre at +1-773-784-8565 or visit aboutfacetheatre.com.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, Victor Maog’s “Tot: The Untold, Yet Spectacular Story of (A Filipino) Hulk Hogan” will have its world premiere by Mu Performing Arts from Jun. 16 to Jun. 26 at Park Square Theatre (West 7th Place).

“Tot” follows a boy who migrates from Marcos-ruled Philippines to San Francisco and conjures a wrestling fantasy to cope with his new life.

Maog is artistic director of Second Generation Productions, a New York City-based Asian American theater company.

Mu Performing Arts’ artistic director Randy Reyes is also Fil-Am.

Contact Mu Performing Arts at +1-651-789-1012 or visit muperformingarts.org. 


East Coast

In New York, Pamatmat’s “House Rules” will have its world premiere staged by Ma-Yi Theater from March 22 to April 17 at Here Arts Center (6th Ave.).

“House Rules” is about two families who panic with hilarious and heart-breaking results when they realize their parents won’t be around forever.

The play will be directed by Ma-Yi artistic director Ralph Peña. Peña was recently in Manila to direct “Macho Dancer: A Musical” at the 2015 Virgin Labfest 11.

Pamatmat’s most recently staged play was “Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them” in Boston by Company One Theatre; about Fil-Am siblings 12-year old Edith and 16-year-old Kenny and his boyfriend.

Contact Ma-Yi Theater Company at +1-212-971-4862 or visit ma-yitheatre.org. inquirer.net

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Fax: 201 434-0880

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