Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My interview with Boston-based blog ASPIRE MOTIVATE SUCCEED now online: addressing the challenges of migration and development

BOSTON, MASS.:  On Saturdays, the blog ASPIRE. MOTIVATE. SUCCEED features people from different backgrounds who tell success stories in their own ways. I was honored to be chosen by Alpha Miguel-Sanford who has featured me in her Boston-based blog ASPIRE. MOTIVATE. SUCCEED as the "Success Story Twenty Two: Randy Gener."  

We discussed the challenges of migration and development: on the role arts and culture plays in the future development of second- and -third-generation immigrants abroad.  Here are excerpts from that Q&A interview:
AMS: You delivered a presentation in Manila about challenges of migration and development, would you tell us how you were selected to be a part of this huge event? 

Randy: In December 2010, I went back to Manila with my family to pick up a Presidential Award from His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III at his residence Malacañang Palace.  The Commission of Filipino Overseas (CFO), which administers that biennial awards system given to individuals and organizations overseas, invited me to speak on the topic of “Solutions of Culture and Education: Keeping Second Generation Filipinos Overseas Rooted in Philippine Culture” at a two-day conference entitled “Vision 2020: Responding to the Challenges of Migration and Development.”  This conference brought together all the stakeholders and sectors (academe, civil society, international organizations and the diplomatic corps, national government agencies, local government units, private sector and Presidential awardees who belong to the constituencies of overseas Filipinos). The Philippine government wanted to discuss the direction it seeks to take in relation to migration and development. 
Basically the Aquino administration aims to undertake public-private partnerships to modernize the infrastructure of the Philippines.  The aim of the CFO is to cooperate with a host of stakeholders and sectors (which also includes leaders of the National Federation of Filipino Associations in America and US Pinoys for Good Governance). Can Filipinos overseas and in the diaspora inspire or respond to the future development of their homeland? What, if any, is the role of arts and culture? How can Filipino artists and arts groups abroad (indivuals, networks and organizations overseas) actively participate in the development of Philippine arts and culture, given the fact that whether we like it or not, Filipinos are both a global, mobile and diverse people?
AMS: Would you share us your views on migration and development?

Randy: I am presently looking for speaking opportunities, discussion platforms and collaborative partners who might be interested in listening to my views on what (and how) arts and culture can do to keep the second- and third-generation Filipinos overseas rooted in Philippine arts and culture. I think that supporting the Filipino languages through education is one obvious answer, but it is actually not enough. 
Second- and third-generation Filipinos — in particular, children of Filipinos overseas — need to see Philippine arts and culture as a dominant aesthetic force both domestically and internationally.  We do not need any more "role models." We need to see the international world's recognition of Philippine artistic works and aesthetic styles as a moving spirit and a generative force. When second- and third-generation Filipinos visit the Philippines, they need to see that there are thriving Philippine artistic and educational communities back home from which they can draw inspiration, influences, new forms and artistic training.

Philippine performing artists, for example, need to be cultivated, developed, encouraged and promoted so that our postmodernity as Filipino artists is identifiable and recognizable, similar to how the world perks up its eyes and opens its eyes when they encounter new trends in African-American aesthetics. Without an infrastructure that supports both emerging and established Philippine performing artists, our second- and third-generation Filipinos will latch on to other foreign cultures (usually in the foreign lands where they were raised), and they will only see their connection to Philippine culture as only a matter of ancestry, tourism and geography.

Moreover, the parents who work abroad to make money which they send back home, often turn their backs on Philippine arts and culture in the process of attempting to assimilate in the new cultures. Frequently these parents will forbid their own children from pursuing careers in the arts (in favor of business, medicine or law). This process not only impedes the advancement of Philippine art forms abroad but also imbues a sense of shame and embarrasement in our culture.

In the theater we are stuck in a cycle.  Filipino American writers are under-represented in mainstream U.S. institutions, because the leaders of those companies will say, "We haven't found the kind of Filipino American plays that will speak broadly to the mainstream U.S interests. If we do produce Fil-Am plays that speak directly to Filipino-American issues and concerns, we don't make money by programming these Filipino-American productions. There is no prestige value in putting them on. Filipino American communities do not make an effort to show up in the audience. It is too difficult for us to put Pinoy butts in seats. Sometimes Filipino Americans themselves will say to us that they are not interested in these works."

So we're stuck in a self-fulfilling cycle. There are no Filipino-American plays because Filipino-American audiences rarely come to see them. Except for families and friends, non-Filipinos are the ones who frequent Filipino artistic events. In terms of culture, Filipino-American audiences do not represent an economic force to be reckoned with because the top theaters and institutions are not convinced that programming or producing Filipino-American shows will lead to material success. Filipino-American artists both abroad and in our homeland remain in the twilight. And since we as artists are perpetually hidden, Filipinos overseas can't see the significance that a strong arts-and-culture aesthetic plays in defining our global identities. Meanwhile, the young people who want to become actors, singers, writers and performers are either out of work or (if they are lucky) working in Western shows or remain perpetual amateurs, because there are no Filipino-American productions where they can practice and ply their trade.

In my presentation, I argue that it doesn't have to be this way. 
AMS: Who or what inspired you to be who you are? 
Randy: Artists inspire me. The work of other artists frequently have a generative effect on me. When I see or read or hear or experience works that I find fascinating in some way, I am frequently moved and stimulated to follow the artist’s way. 

This Q&A interview I gave AMS Daily was posted on Saturday January 28. 

Here is the link to the entire interview:

The AMS Daily site, located at http://amsdaily.net/about/contains stories, videos, books about aspirations, motivations and successes.  "The individuals who have shared their stories with us," according to the site's founder and editor Alpha Miguel-Sanford, "are what the editor believes to be successful. Success/successful is relative to the reader or the person who perceives the idea of who is successful.  These individuals have proven their value to the community; their passion to what they do; their mission to the world and to their families and most of all these individuals know who they are and what they are capable of doing."

The AMS Daily site has a Facebook Page located at https://www.facebook.com/amsdaily

Support education one click at a time:
Every time you "like" this Facebook Page or become a blog subscriber of ASPIRE. MOTIVATE. SUCCEED, the site's founders say that they will donate $0.40 U.S. centers toward the education of about 22 high-school students of the Tarlac College of Agriculture-Laboratory High School in Camiling, Tarlac in the Philippines.

Do you want to support education? Can you be ONE of this site's 3,000 Facebook Fans or Blog Subscribers? If you do, here’s what you can do:
  1. LIKE the Facebook Page – which you can find by clicking here.
  2. SUBSCRIBE to the blog – which you can do in two minutes by clicking here.
  3. SPREAD the word – the site needs to get at least 3, 000 people to visualize this project.

If you want to read more about this, click on the link below: http://amsdaily.net/2011/09/01/pledge-for-education/

Thank you to Alpha Miguel-Sanford for including me in her inspirational new site.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Randy Gener Heats Up MAX Magazine

SOFIA, BULGARIA:  I am honored to be featured as one of "MAX People" (www.maxpeople.bg/).

MAX, the Bulgarian "brother" of the world-famous Italian men's magazine, has dedicated three pages to my life and work in its current 2012 edition devoted to the theme of "Creatives."

Accompanied by two candid photos by the renowned Broadway photographer, Rivka Katva, the article, written by the Bulgarian journalist Emil Iliev, was published in the January 2012 issue.

MAX was first published in Bulgaria at the end of October 2006. The trendy men's magazine has the reputation of being one of the most prestigious editions in Europe with a prevailing male readership. In Italy alone, the monthly circulation is 156,000 copies with more than 1,100,000 readers. MAX Bulgaria is published with a circulation of 20,000 and a cover price of 5 BGN.

MAX considers itself a leader in defining the trends in fashion and the modern way of life. MAX is aimed at the active readers between the age of 25 and 45. "These people," states the Bulgarian publishing house QM, "represent the middle-high and high-class in terms of the professional occupation, income and quality of life. These are people with ideas, taste and money."

The Bulgarian edition of MAX is the "brother" of the original Italian men's magazine, and it bears the genetic inheritance. MAX was created by Paolo Pietronni 25 years ago. The big-format style and creative vision was conceived by New York-based art director Giovanni Russo. QM Media, based in the capital city of Sofia, launched MAX under a licensing agreement with Italian RCS MediaGroup at a time when more and more international magazines were entering the Southeast European country.

Appropriately, the Bulgarian MAX follows the concept of the original -- an elegant combination of amusing and serious readers, high-quality outlook and commentaries. The graphic design of MAX is the trademark that provides it with an advantage on the varied media market. The covers of the magazine are recognizable not only for their high visual style but also for the professional realization of some of the most prominent Bulgarian and world photographers.

MAX People

MAX is a nicely mixed cocktail of lifestyle topics: fashion, cars, accessories and cosmetics, night life, news, politics, sports, music and cinema, beautiful women. World stars such as Monica Bellucci, Carla Bruni, Charlize Theron and Sean Penn have shined the covers of the Bulgarian MAX over the years. Top models such as Cindy Crawford and Eva Hertzigova have marched through its pages, and the pictures were taken by such photographers as Helmut Newton, Marco Glaviano and Gian Paolo Barbieri.

Here is an excerpt from Emil's introduction:

Детството на Дженър минава по времето на диктаторът Фердинанд Маркос, свален чрез народно възстание на филипинците.  Като тийнейджър Ранди работи като вестникар по улиците на Манила. Един ден, по път за работа, в автобуса, той се вглежда през рамота на един човек във вестника на пътника отсреща, на страниците разпознава собственото си фамилно име и прочита историята на  филипински бизнесмен в щатите, който е застрелян в Лос Анджелис.  
Ранди не познава биологичният си баща, но го е виждал в семейните им фотографии и веднага го разпознава на снимката от статията. След падането на диктаторския режим, през 1986-та Ранди Дженър се премества в Америка. 
В Ню Йорк пристига с авткобус, прекосил континента от западното до източното крайбрежие. Не се бях къпал 7 дена и нощи и от град на град се хранех само с хамбургери от Макдоналдс. Като пристига се настанява в малкото жилище на бедно филипинско семейство, където, след вечеря, когато всички си легнат, може да използва масата, за да постави върху нея пишещата и да работи. 
Намира спасение в тишината на Нюйоркската обществена библиотека, където проучва как да си намери работа и присъства на поетични уъркшопи. За добро или за лошо, една вечер, дащерята в семейството, където е отседнал, подслушва негов телефонен разговор с приятел. Хазяйние му се оказват хомофоби и скоро Ранди ги напуска, за да заживее самостоятелно. По същото време, денем той работи за голяма американска корпорация, а през нощта е неплатен стажант за Вилидж Войс. 
Идеята за журналистически пробив в Ню  Йорк е да си провреш крака през вратата.
Ранди стажува при двама - Рос Уетстан, обичаният театрален критик на Вилидж Войс и за Майкъл Файнголд - водещ театрален критик, който ме изтощаваше до смърт. 
Желанието му  де бъде публикуван го кара да работи и за други издания в града е да дава всичко от себе си, дори пари, които не притежава. Когато трябвало да направи интервю с Антъни Хопкинс и Ема Томпсън. отишъл в скъп хотел в Горен Ийст Сайд, където закуската, само кроасан и кафе, струвала $20, а след интервюто се върнал в офиса на корпорацията, за да сервира, сам той, кафе и закуски на работодателите си. 
Превърнах се в най-дълго неплатения стажант в историята на Войс. Докато Рос не му предлага платена работа на асистент по проучвания за две книги, а също и да продължи да бъде връзка с театралната общност на Оф-оф Бродуей за наградите на Вилидж Войс. 
Всъщност бих изоставил писането за театър ако възможностите за оцеляване се изчерпат. Казва, че писането на критика не е негов избор, до ден днешен предпочита да пише разкази и пиеси. Въпреки, че пиесите му са поставяни той е известен повече като редактор и театрален критик.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hungarian political weekly picks up my essay on the politics of theater in the former Soviet country of Belarus

A European political weekly has picked up news about the publication of my essay on the political situation of theater and the arts in the former Soviet country of Belarus in the January 2012 edition of the Hungarian magazine Színház.

Posted on January 20, 2012, the news story, entitled "Színház és politika," appears in 168 ora, a Hungarian weekly review created in 1988. Presented in the Hungarian language, 168 Ora is an independent publication providing articles on the social, political and economic situation in Hungary.

Here is an excerpt from the news article on 168 ora:

"Négy anyag is foglalkozik ezzel a témával. Gajdó Tamás a nyilas idők Madách Színházát mutatja be, Randy Gener egy szabad színházért folytatott küzdelmet Fehéroroszországban, Madli Pesti az Egységes Észtország esetét dolgozza fel, a lap legterjedelmesebb, legfajsúlyosabb anyaga pedig egy körkérdésre adott kelet-európai válasz-összeállítás, amely a színigazgatói kinevezések gyakorlatát firtatja." 

The article I wrote, mentioned in the above excerpt, is entitled "The Struggle for a Free Theater | Or "Long Live Belarus."  It is about the plight of the actors of Belarus Free Theater who left the country following the violent presidential elections in December 2010. My original article was published in issue number 4 of the international journal Critical Stages.

My article was translated into Hungarian language and then published in a shorter version in the January 2012 edition of the Hungarian magazine Színház, which grabbed the attention of 168 Ora because of Színház's focus on the relationship between theater and politics in Eastern Europe. It is a comprehensive issue that unveils the significant updates and clear differences of the power politics and national theater scenes in Romania, Poland, Latvia, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia. The picture Színház presents, as 168 ora notes, "is not very bright."

Because of the political situation in Belarus, the performing arts situation is perhaps one of the bleakest. When I received an invitation to contribute to Színház, that Hungarian magazine's editor wrote to me, in an email, "Unfortunately we cannot commission anybody from Belarus to write an honest article. That is why we would love to publish your work." --RG
Protesting in front the Belarus consulate in New York, January 2010 | Photo by Randy Gener

Monday, January 16, 2012

A lovely profile on the online New York magazine The FilAm

NEW YORK CITY:  The FilAm, an online magazine for Filipino Americans in the New York area, has published a lovely profile article about my work on its site.  Written by New America Media fellow Maricar Hampton, the article is entitled "Writing, theater and always the two shall meet."

The FilAm reaches the vast, dynamic network of Filipinos, numbering anywhere from 150,000 to 300,000, in the New York tristate area.  The FilAm has enjoyed steadily rising unique views – averaging 7,500 a month so far — with stories that continue to inform, entertain, raise questions and provoke.

The site, which features cutting-edge articles and commentary, is a content partner of Business Mirror in the Philippines; the Philippine Daily Inquirer; FilAm Star in San Francisco; Feet in Two Worlds in New York; and Voices That Must be Heard of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Hampton's article takes the form of a q-&-a and begins with this introduction:

The first Filipino — and first Asian — to win the Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, Randy Gener talks about doors opening to a wind gust of awards, honors and opportunities, including editing a newspaper in the Prague. 
TF: Was it easy breaking into a writing career in New York?
RG: I never gave up, even when doors were closing on me. I have learned to just continue doing what I do, I have learned to have faith in myself and faith in my writing as a form of artistic expression. 
TF: Would you consider the Nathan Award your most meaningful award?
RG: This award meant the most to me because the prize for which I won are not strictly for reviews. They are mostly for essays, and in some cases they are feature articles. So to be given the prize for best dramatic criticism when in fact I have never seen each of these as pure dramatic criticism pieces is one reason. 
Another lovely thing about the prize is it puts me in a group of people many of whom I have admired and respected over the years. 
TF: Any advice to young writers?
RG: Writers blossom into different fields depending on what opportunity they have been given. We have chosen a difficult road. There will be obstacles and stumbling blocks but I want to say, ‘Have faith, wake up every morning and do something — even the smallest thing — to move your art forward.’ 

Please read the rest of the article by clicking here.

If you wish to advertise in The FilAm or give a donation please email TheFilAmNY@gmail.com for pricing details.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Culturebot's panel on citizen criticism and the arts takes place, live-streams from New York's Public Theater on Jan. 15

NEW YORK CITY:  Culturebot.org, a multidisciplinary arts and culture blog, and the Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival have graciously invited me to participate in a panel discussion on citizen criticism and the arts during the festival.

Curated by Culturebot.org, the discussion on criticism and the arts is entitled "Everyone’s A Critic! Exploring the Changing Landscape of Arts Writing."  It follows a discussion that pits visual-art performance against contemporary performance. And it will be livestreamed at http://www.livestream.com/newplay.

The actual discussion itself takes place Sunday, January 15 at 1PM at the LuEsther Lounge @ The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street.

Here is the description:
As the mainstream media continues to cut its arts coverage, an increasingly diverse field of citizen journalists has filled in the gap. Some decry this as a disaster, proclaiming the death of criticism. Others characterize this as a long-overdue democratization of critical conversation. The truth is probably somewhere in between. What is the role of the arts writer in today’s society – either “professional” or “amateur”, what is the difference between a reviewer, a critic and a crank, and what does the future hold?

Randy Gener (editor and critic of CriticalStages.org and in the Theater of One World)
George Hunka (Superfluities Redux)
Margo Jefferson (critic, author, professor)
Tom Sellar (Theater magazine & Village Voice)

Randy Gener, "In Search of a Criticism Without Borders" (Critical Stages)
Randy Gener, "Criticism in the Hybrid Newsroom" (American Theatre magazine)
Randy Gener, "Notes on Heart and Mind, or the Promise of Criticism in the Republic of Broken Dreams (American Theatre magazine)
Michael Kaiser, “The Death of Criticism” (Huffington Post)
George Hunka, “Criticism dies, again” (Superfluities Redux)
Jeremy Barker, “Why Aren’t Audiences Stupid?” (Culturebot)
Andrew Horwitz, “Why Aren’t Audiences Stupid?(Andy Version)” (Culturebot).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Interviewing Japanese theater-maker Hideki Noda ("The Bee") on YouTube

I recently interviewed Hideki Noda whose upcoming production of THE BEE at Japan Society begins performances tonight as part of the Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival.

Our discussion appears on YouTube. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkhIPPHoC88

On the Japan Society site, THE BEE, which runs January 5 to 15, 2012, is described as:

Manga comic-strip-like frenzy turns into a thought-provoking nightmare in Hideki Noda's THE BEE, co-written by Hideki Noda and Colin Teevan and inspired by a story by Yasutaka Tsutsui.  
This gripping production, which excited London's discerning theater community when it premiered at the Soho Theatre in 2006, tells the tale of an ordinary Japanese salaryman who turns savage after returning home to discover that his wife and son have been taken hostage.
Conceived by Japan's celebrated playwright/director Hideki Noda, THE BEE draws "links between comedy and pain, beauty and cruelty" (Financial Times).  
Within a minimalist set and an eerily beautiful soundtrack, the cast, composed of four members including the director himself and Olivier award-winning actress Kathryn Hunter, seamlessly shift between characters. THE BEE won the Asahi Performing Arts Award Grand Prix and the Yomiuri Theater awards Grand Prize for best play.


Our discussion touches on how he adapted a Japanese short story into a stage production and why he has a propensity to play women's roles. --RG