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  • runboyrun rehearsals are up and running

    First day of rehearsals comes round Magic once again. This time there is a little déjà vu, since we just had one last week. runboyrun, our second play (the third in the Ufot cycle) from Mfoniso Udofia, our playwright in residence extraordinaire, began rehearsals yesterday.

    Left to right: Adrian Roberts (Nsikan Disciple Ufot), Rotimi Agbabiaka (Boy), Leigh Rondon-Davis (Assistant Director), Sean San Jose (Director), Mfoniso Udofia (Playwright), Katherine Turner (Sister), Rafael Jordan (Ben.Gun.), and Omoze Idehenre (Abasiama).

    Left to right: Adrian Roberts (Nsikan Disciple Ufot), Rotimi Agbabiaka (Boy), Leigh Rondon-Davis (Assistant Director), Sean San Jose (Director), Mfoniso Udofia (Playwright), Katherine Turner (Sister), Rafael Jordan (Ben.Gun.), and Omoze Idehenre (Abasiama).

    Cast, creative team and visitors applaud after the first read of runboyrun.

    Cast, creative team, staff  and visitors applaud after the first read of runboyrun.

    First day of Sojourners by Mfoniso Udofia

    It feels like Dogeaters just ended, but on we go to our next show(s). Mfoniso Udofia arrived last week and rehearsals for Sojourners began yesterday!

    Ryan Purcell and Mfoniso Udofia share thoughts about Sojourners with the cast, creative team, Magic staff, producers, supporters and Laney students.

    Ryan Purcell and Mfoniso Udofia share thoughts about Sojourners with the cast, creative team, Magic staff, producers, supporters and Laney students.

    Sojourners is the first of our two productions, (the other, runboyrun, starts rehearsal next week!)  that will run in rep, from Mfoniso’s nine-play cycle. Sojourners is the origin of the cycle that tracks the Nigerian-American Ufot family in the U.S.

    Ryan Purcell, who is directing Sojourners, reflected on the way the play captures a fearlessness and loneliness of leaving home and trying to build a home as an experience that all of us can relate to. All of us have left home at some point, or should have, and it is a scary and funny experience.

    Mfoniso mentioned the fascinating way that Sojourners, in its recent New York premiere, offered a distinct experience for Western versus Nigerian audiences. Those audiences laughed at very different moments and rooted for different characters.

    Interview with Lily Sorenson, Dogeaters Assistant Director (and Apprentice Extraordinaire!)

    Lily Sorenson was our Artistic Direction Apprentice and Assistant Director for Dogeaters. She talks to us about her life in theater and experience working on Dogeaters.

    lily on the beach

    How did you get into theatre/know it was what you wanted to do?

    There are probably a million people with stories like this, but I was cast as the lead troll in my 1st grade production of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” and I was hooked. I have absolutely adored working in theatre, both on and off stage, since before I can remember. I worked on community children’s theatre throughout my youth, but when I got to high school I began to widen my interests. I started designing and building sets and writing short plays while keeping up with my acting. In college, my interests only became more diverse. I was sound designing plays and films, auditioning for plays and musicals, and performing with dance groups. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I got to direct my first play, but directing became a passion that consumed me entirely, prompting me to start producing my own works on and off campus.

    What was it like working on Dogeaters?

    Dogeaters is a very special play with a very special cast. It was an absolute delight to work on. Getting to shadow the tremendously talented Loretta has, of course, taught me so much about direction. But beyond that, the almost entirely Pinoy cast feels like a family. They were so high-energy and positive in every rehearsal. Everyone was incredibly helpful and encouraging in understanding the culture and language of the show — Pilipino culture wasn’t one I had had much exposure to prior to the production. Since the show has opened, I have sincerely missed each and every person in the cast on the evenings I’m not around to see them – something you can’t say about every cast you work with.

    Do you have a favorite character? If you could play a character in Dogeaters who would you play?

    I love all the unique characters our ensemble has created for Dogeaters, but I have always been particularly fond of Perlita and Chiquiting. With their sassy and competitive banter, they are wonderful comic relief in the sometimes very dark world of Manila, 1982. But they also have lovely tender moments where we see how much they love each other, Joey, and Rio. They were unexpected to me in a world like this, but have proved to be some of the most important players in the story that is told. If I got to play a character, I would love to play either Lolita Luna or Barbara Villanueva. This is probably in large part because I love the way our beautious actresses have realized them. I’m very into the over the top and performative nature of the characters. Women in the spotlight, but each have moments of vulnerability that show us the person behind the personalities they’re force to perform. 

    What has been your most memorable show/performance in your career?

    Though Dogeaters is not a show I will soon forget, some of the most memorable shows were during my undergrad education at UC Santa Cruz. The ones that stick out in my mind the most couldn’t be more different; Rent by Jonathan Larson and The Aliens by Annie Baker.

    I had the role of as Maureen in the 40+ cast main stage production of Rent directed by Danny Scheie at UCSC and it was one of the most hectic and exciting productions I have ever been in. I was allowed to self direct my own performance art piece for the song “Over The Moon” which was an absolute delight. Getting to work with a cast of so many friends and on a show so near and dear to my heart from an early age was such a good time.

    I also directed and produced The Aliens by Annie Baker in my own backyard with a cast of three phenomenal male actors. We all gave our weekends to work on the show because we were so excited about it. I’d never before been so in touch with a text or done such valuable work with actors. It was a highlight to my directing career so far.

    Dogeaters Cast Interviews: Jomar Tagatac

    Last, but certainly not least in our series of cast interviews, we have Jomar Tagatac who plays the glamorous Perlita alongside the ruthless General Ledesma.

    Jomar (center) with Associate Costume Designer Karina Chavarin and Costume Designer Brandin Barón at the first day of Dogeaters rehearsals

    Jomar (center) with Associate Costume Designer Karina Chavarin and Costume Designer Brandin Barón at the first day of Dogeaters rehearsals

    If you could play another character in Dogeaters who would you choose? Why?

    If I could play a different character, I’d want to play Perlita playing Imelda Marcos. I think it would be a fun challenge to have Perlita’s point of view playing an iconic character like that. Perlita would probably play up the glamorousness of Imelda while at the same time revealing Imelda’s ridiculousness, but all in good fun and in a sneaky way of course. Either that, or Pucha. Sometimes it can be fun to gossip and misbehave at a restaurant.

    What is your favorite thing about this production?

    I love the sense of family. I’ve been lucky enough to feel a sense of family in all the productions I’ve been in, but this is one big family…typical Filipino style. I also love hearing Loretta bust out some tagalog phrases. Hot night tonight, di ba?

    Perlita strikes a thoughtful pose.

    Perlita strikes a thoughtful pose.

    What has it been like working with Jessica Hagedorn?

    It’s been a blast to work with her. When I saw her on the first day of rehearsal, she had her arms open to hug me. She kissed me on the cheek and said, “I’m back and I’ve come to torture you.” Torture me all you want Jessica. I like dat! She is so kind and gracious and insistent, just like my own mother. I call her auntie sometimes because she feels like that, familiar. I miss her and hope she comes back in town for the closing show.  Jessica did you hear me? Come back!!!

    What was the rehearsal process like for you?

    The rehearsal process was tricky. The first part was to really understand the world of play and the state of the country at that time. Thankfully Lily and Sonia, our two dramaturgs had collected great information for us to reference. After that, the scene work begins. Loretta is such a great leader in guiding us to find the answers to what the scene is about and why these characters have come to this point where the scene has to happen. And the last part was to fully be engrossed in the characters we play. A lot of us played multiple characters. It was important to make sure Perlita and Ledesma were two separate people, making sure that one character didn’t bleed into the other. They are both on opposite sides of the spectrum anyway. I just had a thought of Ledesma doing a drag show. Hmmmmm.

    General Ledesma on the golf course.

    General Ledesma on the golf course.

    Can you tell us a little about your character? What do you think is his/her  best quality? Worst?

    I think Perlita’s worst quality is that she feels this need to control everything. Her best quality is that she is who she is without any apology. And she gives that same respect to everyone around her. Ledesma’s worst quality is that everything is black and white. There is no gray area to him. Ledesma’s best quality is, I think it’s important to know that Ledesma has a heart. He isn’t made of stone and isn’t a robot. That’s why I love that Prayer scene. He is asking for forgiveness for his actions.

    What  is your favorite line in Dogeaters?

    My favorite line is said by Daisy. ” Do you love this country?” I love the placement of the line in where it’s said in the story. I love the way the actor says it, with such sincerity and simplicity. I love that she’s really asking the question. I love that there’s a sense of hope.

    Dogeaters Cast Interviews: Meet Rinabeth Apostol!

    Rinabeth Apostol, who plays expat Rio Gonzaga,  joined us for our penultimate Dogeaters cast interview. She talks about quiet audiences, Filipino banter and unforgettable performances.

    Rinabeth and her mom Sorcy Apostol (who will be joining us for our panel discussion on Sunday 2/21) on our first day of rehearsal.

    Rinabeth with her mom Sorcy Apostol (an activist and educator) on our first day of rehearsal for Dogeaters.

    What is your favorite thing about this production?

    The camaraderie of the cast is a great thing, but my favorite, are the amazing crew and design team.  Our tech process was so specific and incredibly detailed. The designers and crew had the most difficult job of creating the world around us for us to live in – and those elements add so much depth in to the storytelling!  I still find myself shocked by some of the design elements when I’m looking around onstage, thinking “Man!  That looks so good!”

    Now that you’ve had a weekend of performances under our belt, have there been any discoveries/surprises you’ve found in performing this show?

    A quiet audience doesn’t necessarily mean a “bad” one.  It can get a slightly nerve wracking when certain laughs or reactions aren’t where you’re accustomed to hearing them – but I had to remind myself I’ve been immersed in this world so I’m privy to everything that’s going on.  This show is such a kaleidoscope of stories and characters that I can imagine; it can get overwhelming to keep up with everything going on if you aren’t familiar with the world.  It’s almost as though they stay quiet as not to miss a thing!  And the payoff, of course, is the quiet audiences usually give off the loudest applause.

    Rio talks to her Lola's ghost.

    Rio talks to her Lola’s ghost.

    What is your favorite line in Dogeaters (it doesn’t have to be yours)?

    “Darling, Communists are always cute.” (Actually, that entire exchange between Perlita & Chiquiting in Act I, Scene 10 – the lovingly messed up banter done in true Filipino fashion!)

    From the  scene Rinabeth references: Chiquiting and Perlita sharing tsismis.

    From the scene Rinabeth references above: Chiquiting and Perlita sharing tsismis.

     

    What is the favorite role you’ve ever played?

    Professional auditioner, all day, everyday!  Any and every “role” is just a huge bonus!

    Is there one performance you’ve seen that you’ll never forget? What was it?

    There are two performances that have moved me like nothing else:

    King Lear at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where there was, what seemed like a torrential downpour in the amphitheater.  The audience popped open umbrellas and covered their heads with ponchos and programs.  Onstage, the actors continued with the show.  Their gorgeous velvet costumes, I’m sure were growing heavier every second it got soaked!

    The other was the closing night of Aida on Broadway w/ Deborah Cox in the title role.  The passion of the entire cast and Miss Cox had my sister and I in tears – it was as though they were singing for their lives!

    In both cases, the actors onstage were giving such dynamic performances under whatever circumstances –and I knew I wanted to be able to do that – to give whatever I could as a performer to an audience and make people feel exactly what I was feeling (in the audience) in those moments.  I was so incredibly moved by the performances and sensed just how much the audience was in to it too.  It’s a rare thing, when an audience and the performers are on the same page and just want to be together to create an unforgettable evening.  Gaaah!  My face is starting to leak thinking about it, so let’s end this here!

    Dogeaters Cast Interviews: Introducing Mike Sagun

    Mike Sagun joins us to discuss Dogeaters, acting and his aunties’ tsismis. Mike plays revolutionary Santos Tirador, Lieutenant Pepe Carreon and action star Tito Alvarez.

    msag

    If you could play another character in Dogeaters who would you choose? Why?

    I’d love to play the fierce Perlita Alacran. She reminds of my aunties that feed and live off tsismis at family parties–always gossiping and laughing around a game of mahjong or while eating kamayan style around a table filled with food like: lechon. I can see them pssst’ing at each other and pointing with their lips at a poor unsuspecting woman with a knock off Louis bag. I also love wearing high heels. And Perlita loves her heels.

    What are you most looking forward to about this production?

    I’m really looking forward to hearing the audience’s response to this production. I think it’s going to make people laugh, cry, and uncomfortable. The story is so real and Loretta does a brilliant job capturing life and putting it on stage. I feel like we are a cast that really cares about the work–it helps that most of us are Filipinos/APIs and the story resonates deep in our bones. We have family members and friends that lived through the Marcos regime and have first hand experience with what it was like to be in the Philippines during that time.

    And I think Dogeaters paints a vivid picture of the effects and ramifications of what imperialism and colonialism can do to a country–good and bad–and everyone can relate to imperialism and colonialism in some form.

    What drew you to participate in this production of Dogeaters?

    A few friends of mine invited me to watch a reading of it in early 2015. I remember them describing it as, “A show about the Philippines with a bunch of Filipinos.” This piqued my interest. I fell in love with the script after watching the reading and I knew that I had to audition. When will I ever be able to use my Pilipino accent in a show?! I mean, it’s only on my theatre resume under ‘special skills’.

    How did you get into acting? What was your first gig?

    Growing up, I loved performing and acting in front of family members. I thrived under the spotlight. And in the seventh grade I signed up for an elective called speech and drama. During that time in my life I was going through a lot of family issues and I found that putting on a costume or acting like a different character was very healing for me. That year Mr. Ebersole cast me as the lead in his original play called Tommy in TV Land. From then on I was hooked. I ended up doing theater in high school. And after high school I landed a job with Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre. Theatre has always been an outlet for me and it will always be.

    Why do you think it is important that we produce this play today? How do you think it will resonate with a contemporary audience? 

    We’re in a really interesting time in our country. Our politics are being divided further than we’ve ever seen. The wealth disparity is significant. Innocent people are being murdered on the streets by the very hands that are supposed to protect us. I think we are people that love this country and want change. And I think these are themes that run parallel to Dogeaters. And I hope people see the similarities and feel the conflict we might have as Americans just like some of the Pilipinos in the show

    Dogeaters Cast Interviews: Have you met Chuck Lacson?

    Chuck plays various roles in Dogeaters: Freddie Gonzaga, Severo “Chuchi” Alacran, Boom Boom Alacran and Ka Edgar.  

    clacIf you could play another character in Dogeaters who would you choose? Why?

    Perlita, no doubt!  A drag queen with a heart of gold who carries a butterfly knife.  What’s not to love?

    What are you most looking forward to about this production?

    Seeing it all come together!  We have been rehearsing our scenes as a super talented production team is building sounds, lighting design, and video, on top of a set that is really transport the audience to Manila.  When these layers come together it’s going to be MIND BLOWING.

    What has the rehearsal process been like for you?

    Inspirational.  Watching Loretta direct this is a wonderful beast of a play with a cast of 15 actors is awe-inspiring. Talk about controlled chaos!  The work her team has put in to honor this story and the Filipino culture is incredible…and this CAST!  So much TALENT!  We’ve quickly formed an amazing family of trust and mutual respect.  We work hard but we have so much fun!  To see all these local actors of color working tirelessly to bring this story to life is nothing short of wondrous.

    How did you first get involved in the project?

    I had the honor of being part of the first reading at the A.C.T Costume shop two years ago.  I can’t believe I now get to be in the show!  (Someone pinch me!)

    Why do you think it is important that we produce this play today? How do you think it will resonate with a contemporary audience?

    Yes! Filipinos are a huge part of the Bay Area.  This story gives insight into our incredibly complicated country, influenced by centuries of invasion and occupation, through some very rich characters.  (Go Jessica!)  But on top of this, we are at a time where cultural diversity in entertainment is in question.  Producing a show of this caliber that showcases a wealth of local talent of color moves this industry forward in a positive way.  BRAVO MAGIC!

    Chuchi Alacran, the richest man in the Phillipines, goes golfing with his powerful friends.

    Chuchi Alacran, the richest man in the Phillipines, goes golfing with his powerful friends.

    How did you get into acting, what was your first gig?

    A few years out of college I took an acting class with Asian American Theater Company and fell in LOVE!  Later, I was lucky enough to be cast in their production of Cowboy vs. Samurai by Michael Golamco.

     

     

    Dogeaters Cast Interviews: Carina Salazar

    Carina Salazar, who plays Trini Gamboa, joined us today to talk a little bit about her experience on this show among other things….

    csal

    What has the rehearsal process been like for you?

    It sounds corny talaga, but it’s been inspirational. Inspirational because I get to work with such talented people. It has been such a joy being able to watch everyones’ work. Everyone is giving such beautiful, nuanced performances, it inspires me to push myself and delve deeper into my character.

    How did you first get involved in the project?

    I was first asked to read Trini when Magic  had Dogeaters in the Virgin Play Series in June 2014 and luckily they kept me in mind for this production.

    Anything can happen with live performance, do you have a funny moment/embarrassing memory to share?

    I used to tour children’s theatre for Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre. With children’s theatre, we’re performing every school day for the entire school year. That’s a lot of chances to mess things up. There was one day where it had been raining all morning, so a lot of our equipment was soaked from the rain, as were the floors, which we didn’t bother to wipe down. We start off the show and when I run upstage to exit, I slip on a puddle of water, sliding into one of our touring units making a loud thud. All the middle school students burst into laughter. After the show, we have a Q&A where they can ask follow up questions about the show and all they could ask me was how my butt felt from falling so hard.

    Can you tell us a little about your character? What do you think is his/her best quality? Worst? 

    Trini is a woman from the province who has made the bold decision to finally break away from her parents and claim her independence by moving to the capital of the Philippines, Manila. I think her best quality is her ambition. She knows what she wants to achieve and goes for it wholeheartedly, unfortunately, I also feel that it can be her worst side as well because it can be difficult for her to accept when she things don’t go as planned.

    What was your first experience at/with Magic?

    My first experience with Magic was seeing a show back in 2008. When I studying at Academy of Art, our acting professor took us to go see Evie’s Waltz, which, after some research, I discovered was Loretta’s directorial debut as Magic’s Artistic Director.

     

     

    Dogeaters Cast Interviews: Get to Know Esperanza Catubig

    Esperanza Catubig plays Barbara Villanueva and Ka Lydia in our upcoming production of Dogeaters, which opens this coming Wednesday, February 10!!!!

    ecat

    What has it been like working with Jessica Hagedorn?

    I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Jessica twice before this production several years ago in the Los Angeles premiere of Dogeaters. Jessica is a fearless artist, loves working with actors, and inspires me to write and enjoy working out of my comfort zone. She has a deep understanding of how complicated, ironic, and beautiful people are.

    What drew you to participate in this production Dogeaters? I’m a fan of Jessica Hagedorn’s work! And I knew I had a chance to play a different role this time around. For her work to be produced in my hometown AND at the Magic Theatre is a big event! It’s a Filipino experience that I’m looking forward to sharing with the Bay Area! It’s so fun and so rare for me to perform in tagalog and celebrate stories that take place during such a tumultuous time in the Philippines. I was too young to really understand how the Marcos regime affected our relatives in the Philippines during the 80s, but through this production, I am reminded that my parents worked so incredibly hard and sacrificed lost time with loved ones “back home” to create a safe and comfortable place for the family here in the U.S.

    What has the rehearsal process been like for you?

    Terrifying and exciting! I am playing a role that is against my usual “type” and I’ve been operating out of my comfort zone.   It is a gift—thanks to Loretta! It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to work with such a powerhouse group of theatre-makers! 

    Is there one performance you’ve seen that you’ll never forget?

    Sir Ian McKellen in Richard III at the Curran Theatre back in 1995. My mother took me to see it and we sat way up in the balcony. I was concerned we were too far away to see any expressions but I discovered I could see everything. Richard III had just won a battle and it was just McKellen onstage for what seemed like five minutes in silence, no words, after one of his soliloquies. Captivating and honest, Ian McKellen said so much onstage: loss, betrayal, anger, and triumph just by standing center stage…no words! I never knew what “owning center stage meant” until then.

    What was your first experience at/with Magic?

    My first experience at the Magic was Gum by Karen Hartman directed by Jean Randich about sixteen years ago. It took place in a fictional far away country where girls were punished for chewing gum because it was too provocative. The play was inspired by a news article that Karen had found. At the very end of the play when my character was encouraged by her once-strict Auntie to run away from the place as fast as possible, I got to run to the back of the stage, slam the metal double doors open to the sound of the ocean waves, the seagulls, and finally to freedom.

    Dogeaters Cast Interviews: Introducing Melvign Badiola

    Learn a little about Mel Badiola, who plays Nestor Noralez and Chiquiting Moreno in Dogeaters.

    MBad

    How did you first get involved in the project?


    I first got involved with the project during Magic’s Virgin Play Series in 2014. The reading was sold out and a large number of patrons were unfortunately turned away.

    What are you most looking forward to about this production?

    There’s a lot to look forward to in this production. However, I’m really excited about the wonderful costumes Brandin and Karina has tirelessly been putting together. I am always at the edge of my seat whenever I come in for a costume fitting.

    What is your pre-show ritual?


    I’m a simple kind of guy. I like to take a 15-20 min nap, if time allows it. Then about 15 minutes of vocal and physical warms ups. Go over any notes I got from the previous performance while putting on my make-up. Drink water. Go to the bathroom and freak out for exactly 1 minute, in silence of course. And lastly, pop a ginger chew candy after we get the call to, “places!”

    Why do you think it is important that we produce this play today? How do you think it will resonate with a contemporary audience?

    I think it’s important to produce this play, because its themes and struggles are still relevant to Pilipinos, Filipino-Americans, and the American audiences today. Themes and struggles such as immigration, colonial mentality, LGBT issues, and political corruption that all forms of government can fall victim to. It is also important for American audiences to witness and experience a brief moment in the Philippines’ colorful history, even if it’s told through the lives of these “fictional” characters.

    You know, I don’t think I have an answer to that question. I do believe that audiences will either love it or hate it. However, I will appreciate and be grateful at the fact that they took a chance in getting to know a culture where all they might know is that lumpia is a deep fried Filipino dish and every Filipino household has a karaoke machine.

    Anything can happen with live performance, do you have a funny moment/embarrassing memory to share?

    Yes, it happened a few years ago. While the stage manager called 2 mins until “Places”, I told myself, “Hey I didn’t stretch my lower back!” As I assumed the position, legs spread apart, at squat stance, getting ready to turn right, I hear a loud “RIP”. YES, my pantaloons had sprung a tear. From crotch to the upper crest of my ass. Then my Stage Manager calls, “PLACES!”. With no extra pair of pants, or seamstress, or dressers, or time, or a sewing kit; I went and did the show. With torn pants. Oh the thrill and drama of live performances!