June 25, 2016
"Our goal is to create a place for Asian American playwrights to share their voice and for our community to be more in touch with our history and to help create the canon.” ~ Randy Reyes
Reyes directed this play in the round, and the audience surrounds a wrestling ring where all the action takes place. The play is split up into different rounds, like a wrestling match, that focus on Tot's relationships. One challenge for audiences sitting near the front of the stage was that the floor of the wrestling ring was lower than the rest of the stage to allow for a multiple levels and much of the action happened out of sight, like Tot playing with his wrestling action figures or laying on the floor with his mother (pictured above).
This play pushed me out of my comfort zone in a couple ways. First, a bunch of words and references were in Tagalog, one of the official languages of the Philippines. This authentic language may have been included to expand audiences' horizons (translations of Tagalog words were posted in the theater lobby and on the Mu website) and also to welcome those who had firsthand knowledge of the language and culture. Then when the language combined with the sometimes fragmented storytelling there were times that I couldn't quite follow the things that were happening. I took that as part of the experience, since Tot was also learning about a new language and culture and he often had frustrations about not understanding everything. Second, I didn't have a lot of knowledge about the Philippines and the military rule of Ferdinand Marcos. It was helpful to read the program notes and the supplemental content on the website and in the lobby, but by far the most impactful moments happened at the post-show discussion when the guests Marlina Gonzalez and Marina Feleo Gonzalez talked about their personal experience of life under martial law. Post-show Q&As can be hit and miss, but I often find them to be well worth the risk.
Mu Performing Arts continues its legacy of culturally relevant work with Tot. See it before it is too late!
"I came to California when I was six-and-a-half. The experience was jarring—I didn’t have the language to communicate. Though I was born and raised in the Philippines during a period of Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law, the sepia version of my life in metro Manila had a steady stream of characters, lively parties, abundant love, and a deep and rigorous religiosity that blurred with superstition. It was a world built for me. All that changed when I landed in the Bay Area." ~ Victor Moag, The Question of Home
“Victor Maog wrote a play that I connect with in so many ways, it's scary. It's as if he wrote
it about me. Not literally, but emotionally and spiritually. This is a very rare experience for
an actor, at least for me. I think it's because the play taps into the Filipino side of my
psyche, and it's a side I hardly ever get to exercise in a theatrical setting. I've never had that
privilege so I'm very thankful, excited and a little scared for the opportunity.” ~ Randy Reyes