This Marikina café serves up Buffalo wings, Yakult smoothies -- and theater productions

May 27, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

One drunken night, Jay Crisostomo IV shouted that he would build a café-cum-gallery-cum-theater.

He'd been working with several theater groups but faced high venue rental fees.

"We wanted to perform, to share, to give what we learned. But it wasn't always so easy. The solution was daunting, yet simple. Build your own space," he says.

Crisostomo wanted "a space for artists, both new and old, experienced and learning, known and unknown."

The morning after, his girlfriend put him to task. "After three months, and the support of family and friends, Dito: Bahay ng Sining Café and Art Space opened."

At the second floor of a building along Molina Street in Marikina, the 40-seater café (50 if you count the al fresco seats) and 100-seater theater has hosted painting sessions, art bazaars and performances since then.


"I used to do everything from mopping the floors, to cooking, to groceries…

Hortense Gerardo’s play in Boston, dance film in NY

May 24, 2017

BOSTON — Filipino American playwright Hortense Gerardo's new play "Virtuous Reality" will be staged in June at Boston Playwrights' Theatre.

In this short play, chat room friends Rhett and Scarlett finally meet in 3D and discover a brave, new, unmediated world. Jay Pension directs.

Gerardo also choreographed and dances in the film "Infinite Corridor," which will screen at New Dance Alliance's Performance Mix Festival in New York, also in June.

"Virtuous Reality" is part of the 45th Playwrights' Platform Festival of New Plays, where eight other plays will be staged. Playwrights' Platform is Boston's longest-running playwright-run cooperative focused on developing new works.

Gerardo has previously written a one-act play "On the Fabric of the Human Body" and short plays "The Engagement," "…

Bindlestiff’s new artistic director known for ‘heart and talent’

May 17, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — Aureen Almario had always considered herself a visual artist, until she took a workshop with Bindlestiff Studio and saw the possibilities of doing theater work.

Nearly two decades later, she has been appointed the new artistic director of the Filipino American theater company.

"Witnessing amazing artists and a creative community that looked like me completely changed my life," she says.

"For most of my life, performance art was something I would not have dared to do. But the Bindlestiff space and the people in it were inspiring and that empowered me to try it."


Almario has been a resident artist at Bindlestiff for more than a decade. Her acting credits for the group include productions of "A Pinoy Midsummer," an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream," A. Rey Pamatmat's "…

'Macbeth' and a prelude to it, in a new Artist Playground venue

May 13, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

If you build it, they will come. Or in this case, it will expand.

Roeder Camañag and his cohorts established performing and arts group Artist Playground two years ago, providing Quezon City with at least one new professional theater group in addition to Philippine Educational Theater Association and Sipat Lawin Ensemble (not counting the campus theater groups).

They claimed the 30-seater 1701 The Little Room Upstairs off of Timog Avenue as their home theater and focused on one-act plays. Critics and theatergoers have praised their dexterity in staging productions within The Little Room's limited confines.

The group is now busy preparing to open a new, and bigger, playground. Taking over the penthouse of the West Venue Building along West Avenue, their additional theater has been christened Artist Playground II.

"We can now stage full-length productions with an intermission because now we have a lobby at AP II," says Ca…

Filipino-American playwright Han Ong returns to SF with new play

May 10, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — Filipino American playwright and MacArthur genius grant awardee Han Ong's new play "Grandeur" imagines a meeting between an ambitious young journalist and the late music artist Gilbert "Gil" Scott-Heron.

Ong's play on the soul and jazz poet, spoken-word artist and musician who explored blues and rap will premiere at Magic Theatre here in June.

The theater group's statement says the play's exploration of "questions of legacy, art, hope, and redemption drives this funny and gut-wrenching exchange."

Playing Scott-Heron is actor Carl Lumbly, known to TV viewers as Marcus Dixon on ABC's "Alias" and the voice of Martian Manhunter on the animated series "Justice League."

Magic's artistic director Loretta Greco helms the production. "'Grandeur' is a stunning and powerful ride; both …

George de Jesus’ ‘Kung Paano Maghiwalay’–the play Aiza used to propose to Liza Diño–is back

May 6, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Playwright George de Jesus asks: "Where does love go when a relationship ends? Does it go away? Why does it linger? Can it be completely forgotten?"

He tackles the answers in his play "Kung Paano Maghiwalay," a collection of vignettes about disintegrating relationships, which will be staged by Egg Theater Company from May to June.

Almost a decade ago, he was discussing with friends the movie "Closer," specifically the scene where one character (played by Natalie Portman) can be seen falling out of love with her lover (played by Jude Law).

"That inspired me to write this play, drawing from the experiences of some of my closest friends' own break up stories," he says.

Hope and heartache

"KPM was first staged before the concept of 'hugot' became a full-blown trend in both plays and movies," he laughs.

The play debuted as a staged reading in the 2008 Virgin Labfest, followed by…

Playwright Lani Montreal's 'Nanay' in Chicago's 'Night of the Living Moms' fest

May 4, 2017

CHICAGO — Playwright Lani Montreal is curating a festival of stories about motherhood titled "Night of the Living Moms," a pun on the zombie-horror movie "Night of the Living Dead."

"Parenting, joyful as it is, can be an exhausting, and at times, a zombifying enterprise," she says.

"It's going to be a garland of narratives told through poetry, dance and performance about what it's like to be a mother. It's vital for these stories to be told now and new creative work to be developed that validates our experiences as mothers."

Included in the festival is Montreal's new play "Nanay" (Filipino word for "mother"), about a young Filipina coming to terms with her mother's secret identity as a manananggal (a supernatural creature, usually disguised as a woman, that sprouts wings and flies off fro…

Deedee Magno Hall and Isa Briones star in 'Next to Normal' in LA

April 27, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- Actors Deedee Magno-Hall and Isa Camille Briones will play mother and daughter, respectively, in East West Players' staging of the musical "Next to Normal."

With music by Tom Kitt and libretto by Brian Yorkey, this Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical is about how Diana's mental health conditions affect her spouse Dan and daughter Natalie.

Magno-Hall takes the role of Diana and will act alongside her real-life husband Clifton (who is of partial Filipino descent), who plays Dan. Both just recently concluded the national tour of another Kitt-Yorkey musical, "If/Then," starring Idina Menzel.

Other Filipino Americans in the production include actors Anthea Neri (Diana understudy) and Randy Guiaya (Doctor Fine/Madden/Anesthesiologist); and musical director Marc Macalintal.

Runs in the family

Isa Briones is making her East…

Filipino-American film on love, loss and a dog makes it to Cannes

April 25, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- Filipino American Danny Bernardo's film "Jerky" has been selected to screen at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Scheduled for screening on May 25 under the festival's Short Film Corner (Cannes Court Metrage), the film is one of 30 entries chosen out of more than 200 submissions for the Creative Minds program block.

Founded in 1946, the festival is held annually at the Palais des Festivals et des Congres. This year's festival is scheduled for May 17 to 28.

Bernardo wrote and stars in the film directed by Tim J. Lim. Cinematography and editing are also by Lim.

"Jerky" follows Gordon (Bernardo) as he struggles to pick up the pieces of his life after the death of his husband Martin (Edwin Martinez). The biggest obstacle for Gordon is Martin's dog Jerky, whom Gordon never wanted and is allergic to.

"It's a stark and intim…

How seeing her mother Winnie get directed by Behn Cervantes in UP lured Tami Monsod into theater

April 22, 2017
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Tami Monsod is playing Vivian Bearing in Twin Bill Theater's ongoing production of Margaret Edson's "Wit," a play about a university professor's assessment of her relationships, or lack thereof, as she faces imminent death.

Previously adapted into a made-for-TV movie starring Emma Thompson, the one-act play won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999. Twin Bill's production is directed by Steven Conde, who also helmed "My Name is Asher Lev" and "Once Upon a Mattress" this year.

Similar to her character, Monsod also teaches (theater to high school students at International School Manila) and has a master's degree.

But unlike Vivian, Monsod fosters meaningful connections with other people. "In the past and present, I've had many beautiful relationships," she says.

Starved for stories

The lure of theater came from "wanting to see stories happen in real time," she says. "I …