Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CONVERSATION | Jean-Guy Lecat kicks off "Creating Theatre for a New Audience" series in Brooklyn, Jan. 5th

Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, NY |   In 2000, Harvey Lichtenstein, recently retired executive director of BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), invited Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA), a modern classical theatre, to build its first home in what was previously known as the BAM Cultural District.

Established in 1979, TFANA produces Shakespeare alongside a wide range of other major authors. Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director, wanted a space that would be both intimate and epic, but without one fixed perspective, so that artists could change the configuration of the stage and audience depending upon the needs of a particular play and production. The Cottesloe at London's Royal National Theatre inspired Horowitz.

A team consisting of architects Hugh Hardy and Geoff Lynch (H3 Collaboration Architecture), theatre consultants Jean-Guy Lecat and Richard Pilbrow, acoustician Russell Todd, and graphic artist Milton Glaser collaborated with Horowitz on designing the 299-seat Scripps Main Stage and 50-seat Rogers Studio.

Over the next year, TFANA will host a series of free public discussions, which will focus on each team member's exploration of how theatrical design can support art.

I am honored to kick off Part One: A Conversation with Jean-Guy Lecat, an exploration on space, architecture and performance design.

Our conversation talk is set for Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 5:30pm at the Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn.

FREE EVENT. For further information, contact humanities@tfana.org or visit www.tfana.org.

Peter Brook calls Jean-Guy "Monsieur Space."

Jean-Guy Lecat is a French scenic designer and architectural consultant for Peter Brook's Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, BAM Harvey Theater, and consultant to Jeffrey Horowitz.

I see Jean-Guy more properly as a space designer and a developer of architecture. Why? Because Jean-Guy devotes himself fully to the transformation of space for performance.  He is untiring in his exploration of the interaction of theater and architecture, design and performance, space and storytelling.

Jean-Guy Lecat

Jean-Guy Lecat's guiding hand can be gleaned in the construction of Teatro Azul de Almada in Lisbon, the building of the New Young Vic in London, the major renovation of the historic Abbey Theatre in Dublin, the conversion of an old Norway factory into theatre spaces and schools, the remaking of the Naves del Antiguo Matadero into a performing arts space in Madrid -- and now the construction of Theatre for a New Audience's new home at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn.

Prior to the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Lecat was known in New York for transforming a literally crumbling 1904 space, two blocks from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (formerly the Majestic, it had been boarded up for 20 years) into the BAM Harvey Theater. The newly refurbished Harvey was built specifically to house Peter Brook’s nine-hour production of The Mahabharata and his subsequent The Cherry Orchard.

In an award-winning magazine profile of Jean-Guy Lecat, "The Further Adventures of Monsieur Space" (American Theatre, January 2009), I wrote, "Although the term 'maverick' has become much-abused in the media nowadays, it is actually an apt description of Lecat's place in the pantheon. On the occasion of the publication of 'The Open Circle,' Brook dubbed Lecat 'Mr. Space,' because he thrives in the avant-garde of an entirely new profession that is neither scenic design nor architecture--call it space design. Perhaps another way of looking at Lecat's trade is that he is a stage manager of space, whose simultaneous aims are to lift the theatre experience to a new level, to bring the text forward, and to stimulate 'the imaginary,' which he views as the real current and lifeblood of theatre.' "

BAM Cultural District

In a period of 25 years, Lecat designed approximately 200 performance spaces for Brook around the world, as well as many others in cooperation with international theatre makers and architects. Lecat began his career as a stage design assistant in the Theatre du Vieux-Colombier in Paris and as an architectural assistant at the Avignon festival. Lecat has worked as a stage manager, scenographer and light designer for Jean Vilar, Jorge Lavell, The Living Theatre, La MaMa, Jean-Marie Serreau, Luca Ronconi, Jean-Louis Barrault, Dario Fo, Roger Blin and Samuel Beckett.

Friday, December 20, 2013

NEWS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS | A Great Review...and an Official Government Seal of Approval

NEW YORK CITY |  See that "Philippine Transparency Seal?" That's a government seal of approval from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the Republic of the Philippines.

It was already very nice of the DFA to publish an article that reviewed my recent performance at the Philippine Consulate General of New York's Kalayaan Hall. But it was a whole other matter to get an Official Seal of Approval from the state.

That means that the article reprinted in its entirety below was thoroughly and completely vetted by every stakeholder inside the DFA before they published it on their official website.

What the article does not mention is that the evening I participated in raised some $40,000 in funds that will go directly to the Philippine Jesuit Foundation in New York, which will hand over the funds to Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines. The evening was a launch of a Build a Shelter program that would allow for actual homes to be built for all those Filipinos in central Visayas who lost their homes.

In the initial aftermath of the typhoon, people around the world gave money. However, those funds were geared for emergency relief. This flash funding will not specifically address the actual re-building efforts that needs to be undertaken long after the world has moved forward and the victims of the super typhoon stop becoming a huge part of the current news agenda. By then, it will become even more necessary to re-build new homes, perhaps even schools and buildings, in central Visayas and other regions severely impacted.

Build a Shelter Program (BASP) is a continuing program. For the time being, companies, organizations and individuals that would like to support the BASP can contact the Philippine Consulate General at email address: phcongen.newyork@gmail.com. They may also send check (with “Build a Shelter Project Fund” written in the memo line) to the Philippine Jesuit Foundation, 39 East 83rd St., New York, NY 10028.

It was a pleasure to be part of this important and necessary evening. How very nice of the DFA to say nice things about my performance and giving it a stamp of approval.


Filipinos in New York Celebrate
150th Birth Anniversary  
of Andres Bonifacio 
with Poetry Reading, Film Screening

05 December 2013 – Love for country and hope for a better future was the theme of the Philippine Consulate General’s celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio last November 26 at the Philippine Center in New York City.

A fundraising town hall to launch the Build-A-Shelter Program for typhoon Yolanda victims took place earlier in the evening, where Consul General Mario L. De Leon, Jr. spoke about how ordinary citizens can emerge as a hero during times of crisis, much like Andres Bonifacio during the Spanish era.  The audience were then entertained and educated with a program in commemoration of the man oftentimes called the “Father of Philippine Revolution.”

Theatre actress Debralee Daco, who appeared in the Imelda Marcos bio-musical “Here Lies Love” read excerpts from the Lakambini ng Katipunan, Gregoria De Jesus’ life account that describes her marriage and family life with the Supremo and her participation in the Katipunan.

A poem written by Gat Andres himself, “Pag Ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” was brought to life by a rousing interpretation by Randy Gener.

The highlight of the program was a film showing of “Prologo to the Great Desaparecido,” by Lav Diaz.  The movie depicts Gregoria De Jesus’ desperate search for her husband’s body in the mountains for 30 days.

To relate the celebration to community fundraising efforts, Vice Consul Khrys Corpuz highlighted some messages in the film that resound to the community post-Yolanda: that we must not lose hope and that as a community we will find a cure for our kababayans’ misery.

The evening ended with Debralee and Randy reading Gregoria De Jesus’ 10 Advices to the Philippine Youth. END

Sunday, December 15, 2013

TYPHOON RELIEF EFFORT | Artist Collective and La MaMa host #HaiyanRelief performance and art auction on Dec.18th

NEW YORK CITY |  La Mama e.t.c and Kinding Sindaw are presenting a #HaiyanRelief fundraising benefit. I will serve as the host.

The event will benefit the victims of Haiyan/Yolanda. All proceeds will go to NAFCONUSA #HaiyanRelief fund# nafconusa.org

NAFCON is a national multi-issue alliance of Filipino organizations and individuals in the United States serving to protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos by fighting for social, economic, and racial justice and equality. At present, NAFCON members encompass over 23 cities in the United States.

Featured artist performers are: Yusef Abdus-Salaam || Maria Elena Anaya || Kilusan Bautista || Michael Dadap || Christian Harmon and Juan Torregoza || Interstellar Sex Machine || Kanttara || Kinding Sindaw || Makalina || Saung Budaya || Scientific Soul Band || Substance || 10Tecomai || Amir Vahab.

You can find more detailed information about each artist performer on Facebook herehttps://www.facebook.com/events/1439586276261709/

There will also be an art auction featuring work by: Corky Lee || Crude Things || Funkologist || Bob Gruen || Caitlin Keegan ||Alan Ket || Jayne Lies || Alice Mizrachi || Jaclyn Reyes || Sarita Louise Moore || Venus In Orbit || And more!

Tickets are $20.00

Tickets can be purchased in advance online at http://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/9861504 or at the box office.  Box Office: (212) 475-7710

All proceeds will go to NAFCONUSA #HaiyanRelief fund# nafconusa.org

For more info: info@kindingsindaw.org

Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage
47 Great Jones St., New York NY 10012

Lamama ETC

INTRODUCTION OF HOST – Angela Torregoza, Executive Director of Kinding Sindaw
INTRODUCTION – Mia Yoo, Artistic Director of Lamama ETC
INVOCATION – Tom Porter, Mohawk Elder
WELCOME– Potri Ranka Manis, Founder & Artistic Director of Kinding Sindaw
WELCOME DANCE (Silong Sa Ganding) – Kinding Sindaw

Scientific Soul Band (soul)
Kanttara (vocals)
Lotus Fine Arts Presents: MAKALINA (Hawaiian)
Yusef Abdus Salaam (Spoken Word)

Silent Auction #1

Michael Dadap (Guitar)
Maria Elena Anaya (Flamenco)
Amir Vahab (Tanbour)
Kilusan Bautista (Multimedia)

Silent Auction #2

10Tecomai (YOSOKAI Dance Group)
Substance (vocals)
Saung Budaya (Indonesian Dance)
Christian Harmon and Juan Torregoza (Vocals and Guitar)

Silent Auction #3
Lotus Fine Arts Presents: AJNA DANCE GROUP (Indian Dance)
Interstellar Sex Machine (Downtempo)

Friday, December 6, 2013

NEW YORK DIARY | Remembering Nelson Mandela for Arise America TV

NEW YORK |  Tonight I was a guest on Arise America's TV prime-time news program. I spoke about Nelson Mandela's impact on my life, on American youth and on South Africa's arts community. It was a live show!

Arise News was founded by Nigerian publisher Nduka Obaigbena. He dreamed of a global news channel connecting all the colors and shades of news around the globe. With a team of world-class journalists, behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera, Arise News covers the compelling issues of our time in a way no one else can.

I was honored to be asked to speak my mind in Nduka Obaigbena's enterprising news network. It was a rainy Friday night, almost 24 hours after I reported about Mandela's death in The Journalist.ie and posted my story six minutes after his death was confirmed by South African President Jacob Zuma.

I recalled my student days when I drove five hours to Oakland Coliseum to see in person Nelson Mandela who had just been released from prison where he spent 27 years. We paid $5 for the ticket. My fellow students joined 75,000 of our closest friends in the Bay Area to see Mandela on what was his last stop in an eight-city tour. It was a glorious sun-drenched day. He did not speak very long, but he spoke directly to us, telling us that we students and the laborers and longshoremen in the Bay Area were in the forefront of the anti-apartheid movement here in the U.S. by agitating for the U.S., especially American universities, to divest their South African investments, which at the time totaled $12 billion. 

As I said on TV on Arise America, his speech at that Oakland Coliseum confirmed that we were fighting the good fight and connected our student agitation to this larger, greater and global fight against apartheid. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

TYPHOON RELIEF EFFORT | AAJA-NY Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fundraiser with the Asian Affinity Roundtable

NEW YORK CITY |  I am a member of AAJA-NY (Asian American Journalists Association of New York). The group is holding a Typhoon Haiyan relief fundraiser with the Asian Affinity Roundtable.

I urge you to go. There will be free food, free drinks (up to a point, during happy hour), plus a silent auction and raffle which explains the $10 suggested donation.

Here are the details:

AAJA-NY Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fundraiser
with the Asian Affinity Roundtable

Wednesday, December 4, 2013, 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Location: Katra Lounge, 217 Bowery Street, NYC
Event information: http://typhoonrelief.eventbrite.com

This event is open to the public.

Proceeds will go to International Rescue Committee (rescue.org)

Emcee: Ti-Hua Chang, WNYW/Fox 5 / Performances by: FanAlex, Mary Josephine, and IZZY / Music by DJ VinnyRomance
Free drinks for the first 100 attendees and happy hour drink specials
Free food until 7PM
Silent Auction and Raffle
$10 donation at the door; Event information: http://typhoonrelief.eventbrite.com

Donations will be matched 1 for 1 by Time Warner Inc. and will be donated to the International Rescue Committee.

Silent Auction Items: Reebok sneakers, Real Simple beauty gift basket, Knicks tickets, Restaurant gift certificates, Cookware, Books, Theater tickets and MORE

Co-sponsored by APEX of Time Warner, A3 of Time Inc. and Aspire of JPMorgan, AHG of Interpublic, Asian American Journalists Association of New York (AAJA-NY), APA@NBCUniversal, Asian Connection NY of Wells Fargo, AMP of Viacom, APEX of McGraw-Hill Companies/S&P Capital IQ, TurnerAsia of Turner Broadcasting. This is event is not sponsored by JPMorgan Chase

Sunday, November 24, 2013

TYPHOON RELIEF EFFORT | Lav Diaz Film for Bonifacio Day + FilCom's fundraiser for typhoon victims in Tacloban


NEW YORK |  November 30 is a public holiday in the Philippines. Why? It is the day Andres Bonifacio, the de facto national hero of the Philippines, was born.

The "official" national hero, as was designed by the Americans, is Jose P. Rizal. Bonifacio founded the Katipunan movement which sought armed independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule and started the Philippine revolution.

Many advocates consider Bonifacio to be the "real" first President, although he is not recognized as such in the history books. The reasons are too complex for a blog post to unearth. Suffice it to say that the more popular recognition of Rizal as the Philippine national hero has no explicit legal designation in Philippine law. As a consequence of our colonial past, my native country officially celebrates two holidays in memory of two national heroes: Jose Rizal, the more famous patriot, and Andres Bonifacio, the underground hero.

I would like to invite you to the Philippine Consulate General of New York's 150th anniversary of the birth of Andres Bonifacio. The Consulate originally scheduled it for December 2, but then it moved it up to Tuesday November 26 to coincide with a Friends of FilCom fundraiser to benefit the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in central Philippines.

FilCom stands for the Filipino American Communities of the Northeast. The Consulate is hosting a simple reception for this fundraiser, with the Bonifacio Day celebration as the evening's entertainment. The Consulate will update the New York community of the developments of the typhoon, relief efforts, government and international aid. That is the first part of the evening. Donations to the fundraiser, as the flyer above states, will go to the Philippine Jesuit Foundation.

The evening's second part (the entertainment) will consist of a poetry recital, a life account reading by the actor Debralee Daco (HERE LIES LOVE), and a film screening of an austere short film by Lav Diaz, one of the greatest Philippine film auteurs of all time.

I will deliver a performative recital of a poem written by Andres Bonifacio. The wonderful actor Debralee Daco will interpret the role of Gregoria De Jesus, the wife of Bonifacio. Daco will read from De Jesus's autobiography, an account of her life with her husband.

Both the poem and the Daco's reading from De Jesus's autobiography function as contextual material for the evening's film screening: a 30-minute short film, Prologue to the Great Desaparecido. It is Lav Diaz's introduction to his most important upcoming feature film The Great Desaparecido which questions truth and history around Philippine Revolution and Philippine Independence.

Prologue to the Great Desaparecido

In Prologue to the Great Desaparecido, we find Gregoria De Jesus searching for the body of Bonifacio in the mountains for 30 days. She calls for Bonifacio. She calls for the spirits even to help find her husband. It has been 325 years that the Philippines was under Spanish colonial rule when the Revolution, led by Bonifacio, exploded on August 21, 1896. On May 9, 1987, Bonifacio was charged with a death sentence by counter revolutionaries led by Emilio Aguinaldo, a Filipino general who later appointed himself the first President of the Philippines.*

Seen in light of the Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, Gregoria De Jesus's search for her husband's in the mountains strikes me as deeply relevant in light of the search of Haiyan/Yolanda survivors for their own loved ones.

All this said, Debralee and I wish this evening will nevertheless be enlightening, edifying and in aesthetic terms entertaining. We also hope it will serve as a prologue to Lav Diaz's Prologue.

Lav Diaz, you see, is considered "the ideological father of the New Philippine Cinema.” He began directing in the Philippine commercial film industry in the 1990's. But he received greater attention for films with clearly independent, socially conscious and artistic intentions such as Kriminal ng Baryo Concepcyon and Hesus Rebolusyonaryo.

After leaving the industry, Diaz sought to create his cinema on his own terms. Like the Danish auteur Lars Von Trier, Diaz's reputation rests on path-finding epic films. Beginning with the five hour Batang Westside in 2001 which won the Best Asian Feature at the 2002 Singapore International Film Festival -- followed by later films (such as the landmark near 11-hour Evolution of a Filipino Family, the nine-hour Heremias Book 1, Death in the Land of the Encantos and the seven-hour Melancholia (2008 Venice International Film Festival New Horizons Best Film) -- Diaz has used his long-form cinema to question the very nature of cinematic time and space.

His films also makes us aware of the inherently commercial nature of film-making. Most importantly, the very un-commercial nature of his body of work raise the notion of cinema as a possible tool for involvement, investigation, mourning, healing, remembrance, meditation, confrontation and action for his fellow Filipinos.

Please RSVP to events@newyorkpcg.org.

Prologue to the Great Desaparecido

*Footnote: Historians have condemned the killing of Bonifacio as unjust. Bonifacio did pose as a threat to the Revolution, because a split in the rebel forces would have resulted in almost certain defeated to a united front against the Spaniards. But historians have noted that the trial of Bonifacio was politically rigged. The Cavite leaders, led by Aguinaldo, wanted to wrest control of the Revolution from Bonifacio who exerted a spiritual reign. In other words, he had to be eliminated. Class played a significant role too. Aguinaldo represented the upper class and Bonifacio the middle and lower classes.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TYPHOON RELIEF EFFORTS | In Brooklyn, a Bayanihan Spirit benefit (Nov. 21) and a Sunday brunch fundraiser (Nov. 24)

NEW YORK CITY | It was inevitable: Hundreds of people and organizations around the world have stepped up to the plate to offer their services and aid to the Philippine victims of super Typhoon Haiyan. The deadly cyclone killed more than 3,600 people, and many more have been left struggling to overcome the destruction that was left in the typhoon’s wake.

The deluge of benefits, fundraisers and international pleas for donation comes with it a major problem: finding a reputable group that can get the supplies to the people who need them.

Sending cash directly to people in the area isn’t as helpful, since there’s nothing they can buy. But if you’re able to donate, the most important way to help right now is with a cash donation to a vetted relief organization. While medical supplies, food water and clothing are still in scarce supply, it’s very difficult to get the hard materials collected and then delivered and distributed there.

If you want to donate or help promote a fundraiser, the first order of business is to uncover where the money is going to. Is that humanitarian group or charity actually on the ground in the Philippines?

An NGO, the US Philippine Society (http://www.usphilippinessociety.org/) has a veted list of relief organizations - $40 can feed a family of 5 for a week.

Gawad Kalinga USA (http://gk-usa.org/) is another relief organization with collection and distribution systems, was identified by the NY Times, and has a history of doing this work. They’ve already distributed 60,000 food packs and aim to provide another 200,000 packs in the next 2 weeks.

The next step is to figure out if there is a crack in the system. Are there specific needs, voiced by Philippine victims (antibiotics and other med packs, for example), that are not being served by the overwhelmingly institutionalized support mechanism?

As someone who has received tons of emails announcing their own relief efforts, I'd like to call attention to two benefits for which I have already voiced my support. For convenience's sake, I will start out with a brief summary here, followed down below by longer descriptions.


Hosted by the Filipino American Museum in association with more than 30 New York organizations, including Filipino Mundo-NYC.

Tickets are $10. The event takes place at GALAPAGOS ART SPACE, 16 Main Street,  Brooklyn, New York 11201. Tickets are available at www.filipinoamericanmuseum.com

All proceeds for this Thursday November 21st benefit starting at 8:00 pm will go to National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON). To learn more about NAFCON USA, visit www.nafconusa.org

See the line-up of performers below.


NOVEMBER 24, Sunday, from 11 am to 4 pm at Purple Yam restaurant in Brooklyn

$40 brunch!

Featuring dishes by Chefs Romy Dorotan, King Phojanakong, Perry Mamaril and Pancho Gatchalian.

ALL PROCEEDS go to GAWAD KALINGA. Visit http://gk-usa.org/

RSVPs are suggested! Call 718-940-8118. Or email bettyannquirino@gmail.com

This past Sunday, November 17th, Purple Yam Restaurant in Brooklyn raised $7,615 for Gawad Kalinga USA.


FAM (Filipino American Museum)'s 


Thursday, Nov 21 2013 8:00 pm
Please join FAM (Filipino American Museum) for a night of BAYANIHAN SPIRIT
to raise funds to benefit Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts.

Thursday, November 21, 2013, 8PM at

16 Main Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Tickets $10

Emcee: Miss Info, HOT 97

The line-up of performers is terrific. View it at
http://www.meetup.com/FilipinoMundo-NYC/events/151716032/ or

For more information, here are the social media outlets.
Facebook facebook.com/filipinoamericanmuseum
Twitter @famnewyorkcity
Instagram @famnewyorkcity

Filipino Mundo-NYC is honored to be a community partner of Bayanihan Spirit.


NOVEMBER 24, Sunday, from 11 am to 4 pm
at Purple Yam restaurant in Brooklyn
$40 brunch!
Featuring dishes by Chefs Romy Dorotan, King Phojanakong, Perry Mamaril and Pancho Gatchalian.

ALL PROCEEDS go to GAWAD KALINGA. Visit http://gk-usa.org/
RSVPs are suggested! Call 718-940-8118. Or email bettyannquirino@gmail.com

As it happens, Amy Besa, one of the owners of Purple Yam Restaurant, is presently in the Philippines. She has been organizing dinners in Manila as well.

On November 17, Besa posted on her Facebook Page:
Some thoughts percolating around here. After the relief work to provide food, water, shelter, clothing, electricity, medical needs of the survivors of typhoon Yolanda, some forward thinking people are now looking at ways to help the displaced refugees esp those here in Manila. Chefs like Theodore Day Salonga are suggesting helping provide jobs within the restaurant industry. Ginny Roces-de Guzman is suggesting city vegetable gardening esp utilizing the skills of displaced farmers. 
Since my advocacy is establishing community kitchens where they are needed, I hope we can transform what Tricia Tensuan's Enderun Community Drive's efforts to feed the refugees at Villamor Base into some form of a community kitchen for those who need it. We need to look for more long-term solutions to the problems that Yolanda created.  
Proceeds from tonight's (Nov 17) dinner at Gustare and tomorrow night's (Nov 18) at XO46 will go to these efforts to provide water to communities down south and to help feed the refugees at Villamor Base.
Together, we can re-build this country! Tulong tulong tayong lahat para sa kinabukasan ng bansa! 

To give context, to date 11.8 million people have been affected compared to 3 million people in Haiti’s Hurricane; 12,000 people have been injured, 921,000 people displaced from their homes.

The UN has estimated that $3M in cash is needed immediately for basic rebuilding of homes and essential buildings (hospitals, schools, etc.). International appeals have brought in 19 percent of that amount – primarily from the business sector. Asia Citibank turned over all of one day’s profit to relief, JP Morgan is matching employee donations up to $250,000. Doctors without Borders and the Red Cross are providing medical support and other governments have donated food and water.