Friday, July 27, 2012

Essays on "Theater and Disaster" take center stage in Critical Stages, IATC's international journal

Devastated by the tsunami:  Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Tohoku in Japan (March 2011) | Photo by Morihiro Niino
CYBERSPACE |  The sixth edition of Critical Stages, the web journal of the International Association of Theatre Critics, is now out, I am very proud to report. And it is a most extraordinary edition. Why? Because Manabu Noda, a professor at Meiji University in Tokyo (as well as a theater critic and researcher), has prepared a special section that you won't find anywhere else in the world...or on cyberspace, for that matter.

Manabu Noda-san has curated and edited together a special section, entitled “Theatre and Disaster,” focusing on the post-3/11 theater in Japan. He writes:

Four out of the five articles in this section are from Japanese contributors including the section editor. The section editor is from Japan, but the editorial intention of this is not self-pitying; it is rather to offer a documentation of the post-3/11 milieu in Japan for future reference in our future inquiry into how disasters can affect theatre as well as how theatre should react to an emergency like this. 
The only non-Japanese article in the section is the one contributed by Zain Ahmed and Hajirah Mumtaz (Pakistan), whose “Theatre in a Time of War” shows that the disasters the Pakistani theatre has had to face were not only the post-9/11 political milieu; they can be dated back from the military dictatorship that started in 1977, or even more further back, the Dramatic Performance Act that came into effect during its colonized years. The article helps us realize that theatre in the time of any disaster ought to be discussed in a long-term perspective, as the situation in Japan is still too immature to allow any such attempt, the other articles basically concerning the theatre scene in Japan after the earthquake in March 2011
Bravo to Manabu Noda-san. He has done a great service to the critical community and the theater world!

Meanwhile, I invite you to sample the Interviews section of Critical Stages.

Three of these five interviews introduce us to new voices in the international theatre: Bulgarian director Javor Gurdev, French playwright Rémi De Vos and Italian playwright Fausto Paravidino. Two other interviews offer career retrospectives of theatre artists who have made a tremendous difference in their part of their world: the American actor/director/scholar Robert Goldsby and the Romanian actor/general manager Ion Caramitru.

Read this set of interviews in this sixth edition of Critical Stages not for the subjects' nationalities, which are evident enough.  Read them for what the interviewees have to share about the states of their contemporary theater.  One value of these interviews arises from their diversity —  their differeing senses of what constitutes internationalism within the context of their theatre practices.

Bulgarian director Javor Gurdev
Unless you've spent time in Bulgaria and Russia, you may not have heard about Javor Gurdev, a 40-year-old director of film and theatre, whose productions the critic Emil Iliev is passionate about. Iliev's interview, “You Can Twist Time And Space And Find Yourself Somewhere Else,” gives us a glimpse into the mind of a stage director from the Balkans who intensely fixes on what he calls the "naked theater reality."  In so doing Gurdev's productions flirt with the mystical sides of life, as Iliev notes in the questions he asks.  We find in Gurdev a remarkably young artist who's searching for his place in a shifting, global landscape. "Theatre artists maintain different identities in each local context," Gurdev avows. "I am one person in Bulgaria, another kind of artist in Russia or America or Berlin."

French playwright Rémi De Vos
Critic Irène Sadowska-Guillon interviews the French playwright Rémi De Vos in a probing article, entitled "Un théâtre briseur des tabous."   Sadowska-Guillon gives us a crash course into De Vos's writing life.   Applying her critical faculties, she interrogates De Vos whose theater is engaged with comic absurdities and sociopolitical realities, especially in the world of work.  This is a terrain familiar to De Vos, having worked over the years as an ambulance driver, a night watchman and a metal worker while living in Paris and setting his sights to become a writer.

That peripatetic lifestyle led to pursuits abroad.  He's had residencies, workshops, immersions and productions in places as far-flung as Beirut, Vietnam, Paraguay, Peru, Turkey, Greece and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  "When I started writing theater," Rémi De Vos recalls, "I was asked to do writing workshops in in various Latin American countries for several months, for several years running. These work stays abroad helped me put into perspective my reality: the French way of life"

Italian playwright Fausto Paravidino
Critic Sadowska-Guillon also highlight the recent work of Fausto Paravidino, a young Italian playwright born in 1976 in Genoa.  After brief stints at small theatre companies and Rome's Gloriababbi Theatre, Paravidino nabbed a residency at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2000, where he wrote La maladie de famille M (which he discusses with Sadowska-Guillon). A translator into Italian of the plays of writers such as Shakespeare, Harold Pinter and Conor McPherson, Paravidino is very much an up-and-comer. Last year, his tragic farce La maladie de famille M. was staged in the city of Taipei in Taiwan.

Romanian actor/director/general manager Ion Caramitru
Theater artists can't help but discover the nature of their work in the crucible of the international encounter.  In the case of Ion Caramitru, the legendary Romanian actor and general manager of the National Theatre in Bucharest, theatre arts is indistinguishable from statesmanship.  In a 1992 conference held in London's House of Commons, Caramitru said, "In the part of the world that I come from, a generation was born and lived which, besieged in its own country, understood that culture was the only way out.  To overcome a deep sense of metaphysical fear, this generation formed deep and trusting friendships, searched for books, went to the theatre and made great efforts to learn foreign languages.  Looking back on it now, why does it remind me of Gogol, of Dostoyevsky, of Swift? Why, at a time of lies and compromise, did I feel the need to withdraw into the theatre? Was it because everything seems possible there?"

Theater was a chance to survive for Caramitru, whom the critic Ioana Moldovan describes as as "one of the most recognizable faces that kept hope alive during the first days of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989."  Theatre was a shared language   —  the only medium in which dissent could be expressed at the time. It was no coincidence that in the 1989 revolution Romanians turned to Hamlet (i.e., Caramitru) for a leader who declared, "My army is at your disposal. Tell us where to go." Following his instinct, Caramitru directed protesting students and teenagers to the TV station where, after fierce fighting, he found the TV news studio guarded by only a single Securitate man, too frightened to raise his hand in a salute. From there Caramitru and a poet-friend made an announcement to the nation: "We're free, we've won. Don't shoot anyone. Join us."

American actor/director/designer Robert Goldsby
Hamlet serves as a signpost for another legendary figure: Robert Goldsby. In Lissa Tyler Renaud's candid and beautifully illustrated interview, “Old Souls into New Souls,” Goldsby fesses up. He says that the scholar-critic Dover Wilson's book What Happens in "Hamlet" made a strong impression upon him. He states that the title of Wilson's book on Hamlet expresses that "critical question"    —  "where I always start as a director of any play."

Goldsby played an instrumental role in guiding two Bay Area troupes    —  San Franciscio's celebrated American Conservatory Theatre in the late 1960s and the legendary Berkeley Stage Company (1974–1984), which introduced many important new plays and playwrights to the USA    —  both of which helped define USA's non-profit resident theater movement.  Goldsby explains that "the director faces the audience as the 'beast with a thousand eyes' whom he or she must persuade to laugh or cry, and they spend months making choices that they hope will connect with the public at the performance taking place in the present time." But while politics courses like blood through Ion Caramitru's veins, Robert Goldsby insists that "Doing plays for social or political ends has never appealed to me."

Enjoy these diverse conversations as much as I was thrilled to curate and edit them. — Randy Gener

Monday, July 23, 2012

On the nature of political revolutions | Moderating artist talkback after 2PM performance of Kyoung Park's play "Tala" on Sunday July 29th

NEW YORK CITY |  Playwright Kyoung H. Park is working on a new play, entitled Tala, which will perform July 28th to 31st at HERE Arts Center (145 Sixth Avenue in downtown SoHo) in New York City.  The play is a work-in-progress and is a critique on the nature of political revolutions.

Park has invited me to moderate an artist talkback after a 2PM matinee performance of Tala on July 29th.  Join me, TALA's creative team and the members of the Pacific Beat Collective (PBC).  

Our discussion will explore and investigate what it takes to create an interdisciplinary company such as PBC and how this company's mission intersects with political theater, artistic collaboration and the theme of ideological revolutions.  Our conversation will be followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Want to learn more about

Park has shared with  in the theater of One World the script to his play, scenic-design items, a computer rendering, an early sketch, and photos of an early developmental workshop at ToRoNaDa Theater:

"Currently in production | Play excerpt, models, design sketches for Pacific Beat Collective's "Tala" at HERE Arts Center, July 28 to 31"

Having trouble with the hyperlink? 
Click on this long link, or copy it into your browser
Kyoung H. Park's play "Tala" (ToRoNaDa Theater, April 2012) | Photo by Paul Mpagi Sepuya

In the spring of 2011, Park founded Pacific Beat Collective with Amanda J. Crater and Keren Toledano. They began their work by organizing two panel discussions to serve Theater C's production of Park's play disOriented, which focused on political theater and North Korean politics.

I am very honored to cooperate with Kyoung Park in this work-in-progress production of TALA, particularly since I made a point to feature his riverting play disOriented in American Theatre magazine. 

Pacific Beat Collective is a multi-cultural collective of artists creating interdisciplinary works of original theater that explore our world's interconnectedness. "We believe that theater has the power to bridge cultural differences and serve as a tool for non-violent social change," says Park. "Through art and dialogue, our work questions oppressive social structures and promotes a culture of peace, by radically de-stabilizing normative assumptions that cause direct and structural violence in the world." --RG


Things have been hectic since I graduated from Columbia, as I'm preparing to launch my theater company Pacific Beat Collective (PBC) this fall. Pacific Beat Collective has been my dream since I started graduate school, and it's become more and more of a necessity as I stabilize my career, and my life, in New York.

In the spring of 2011, I founded Pacific Beat Collective with Amanda J. Crater and Keren Toledano, and we began our work by organizing two panel discussions to serve Theater C's production of my play "disOriented," which focused on political theater and North Korean politics, and an artist talkback to discuss the production of the play. Later that year, we launched PBC Underground--a quarterly, interdisciplinary arts salon for NY based artists--to nurture collaborative relationships as an alternative to specialized training and industrialized practice in the arts.

In the meanwhile, we began the development of TALA, PBC's first original show, which I devised in collaboration with our actors Rafael Benoit, Daniel K. Isaac, and Natalia Miranda-Guzman; composer Svetlana Maras (Serbia), choreographer Yin Yue (China), video designer John Knowles (USA), installation artist Jason Krugman (USA), theater designers Chris Barlow (Sound), Chuan-Chi Chan (Lighting), Elizabeth Groth (Costumes), Marie Yokoyama (Set) and Stage Manager Ashley Rossetti.

After a sold-out workshop of TALA at NYC's ToRoNaDa Theater this past April, I'm happy to announce that we're remounting the show for a second workshop at the HERE Arts Center on July 28th-31st, which will help us refine the work we've created, address the dramaturgical questions of our audiences, and better craft the production's design with technical support from HERE.

TALA is a meta-theatrical play that merges my autobiography with the story of Pepe and Lupe, two lovers caught on the Chilean island of Chiloé, the night before Pinochet's military coup on September 11th, 1973. The script collages satirical sketches based on Samuel Beckett's works, letters and poems written by Chilean poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, and autobiographical monologues about my experience being a Korean-Chilean immigrant.

Poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral are the source of inspiration for Pepe and Lupe. Gabriela Mistral, Latin America’s first Nobel Laureate, mentored Neruda as a young poet and they kept a life-long relationship through written correspondence. Throughout their careers, both Neruda and Mistral served as Chilean diplomats and they traveled worldwide to take part in local and international politics.

Gabriela Mistral, who is rumored to be a closeted lesbian, spent her last years in New York after spending much of her life in self-exile, working as an educator in Mexico. On the other hand, Neruda’s poetry and politics garnered him a nomination to Chile’s presidency through the Chilean communist party. Neruda offered his nomination to Salvador Allende, which lead to the first democratic election of a Marxist president.

Twelve days after Pinochet's military coup, and Allende's assassination, Pablo Neruda died. While there are conspiracy theories as to whether Neruda was murdered by Pinochet's regime, the popular story is that Neruda died of a broken heart.

During Pinochet’s regime, Mistral’s image was co-opted and made into a motherly heroine of the Chilean people; in fact, Mistral was put on the 5,000 peso note, even though Mistral received very little recognition in Chile while she was alive. Meanwhile, Neruda's houses in Santiago and Valparaiso were ransacked by the police and Pinochet smeared Neruda for his Communist beliefs. In TALA, which is titled after Mistral’s second book of poems, I’m giving these two Chilean poets another chance to be together, and adapted their poems and letters to capture the turbulent times they experienced.

I’m personally proud of the work we’re accomplishing with TALA, as it's provided me with the opportunity to re-construct a history that was censored during my childhood. Having witnessed the last eight years of Pinochet’s military dictatorship and Chile’s transition to democracy, I've deeply considered the way neo-liberal capitalism affected Chile's socialist movement in the 1970's. These are the same ideological conflicts that separated my family from their country (I'm a third generation North Korean), and I wonder what these historical lessons can provide to our understanding of post-9/11 politics in the United States.

I’ve written a manifesto called “An Aesthetic Meditation” to further describe my experiences and questions. While the manifesto is a mash-up of different cultural theories, it provides a critique on the limitations of theater and reinforces aesthetic ideals on how Art can better function in society. At the core of the Manifesto, and central to PBC and the creation of TALA, is the investigation of how artists can explore conflict through theater and creatively collaborate to connect theater and peace.

I hope you’ll come see TALA and support us at the HERE Arts Center on July 28th-31st. We’ll have evening performances at 7:00 PM, and an artist talkback after a 2PM matinee performance on July 29th, moderated by Randy Gener.

If you’re not able to come, but would like to help, please consider making a donation to our Indiegogo Campaign. We are a new company and our access to public funds and grants is limited, so we need the support of charitable individuals to continue our work. You can make tax-deductible donations here, or write a check payable to “Fractured Atlas” with “Pacific Beat Collective” in the memo line and send it to the address below.

Thank you for your support!

Kyoung H. Park

Kyoung H. Park, playwright

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Joining the "Ta-Ga-Logue" at Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Saturday July 21

NEW YORK CITY |  I am raising my voice and performing my story to my community.

On Saturday, July 21st from 6pm to 9pm, I will perform,
 in Ta-Ga-Loguean excerpt from a work-in-progress A Parliament of the Streets at the famous Nuyorican Poets Café at Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Produced by Leslie Espinosa, Kilusan Bautista, and Precious Sipin, Ta-Ga-Logue is a night of original monologues and theatrical works about Filipino American identity.

Hosted by Kevin Nadal, Ta-Ga-Logue also features performance artists Leslie Espinosa, Precious Sipin, Julian Pormentilla, Kilusan Bautista, Nicole Ponseca and many more surprise guests. (Thank you to Kilusan Bautista for including me in this lineup.)

Performing A PARLIAMENT OF THE STREETS at Nuyorican Poets Cafe in April 2012
A Parliament of the Streets is a larger autobiographical work that I have been working on. The section I will read is a recollection of the first anti-Marcos demonstration that I participated in, the events that led to my immigrating to the U.S. My performance includes singing "Bayan Ko." This kundiman song is often considered the unofficial second national anthem, and is sometimes assumed to be a folk song because of its popularity.  It is also a protest song, often sung during demonstrations, and sometimes by Overseas Filipino groups after "Lupang Hinirang" (the national anthem) or by itself.

I was inspired to write A Parliament of the Streets after friends encouraged me to tell more of my personal story after they read "Memories of Manila Under the Marcoses," an essay I published in the New York Times in March 2001.

My essay in New York Times Arts & Leisure
Sunday, March 4, 2001
Ta-Ga-Logue will be held at the famous Nuyorican Poets Café on Saturday, July 21st from 6pm to 9pm.  Nuyorican Poet’s Café is located at 236 East 3rd Street between Avenue B and Avenue C at Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Ta-Ga-Logue is the embodiment of a line from Jose Rizal’s novel El Filibusterismo: “While a people preserves its language; it preserves the marks of liberty…” BUT WAIT.. isn’t that supposed to be spelled “Tagalog”? That is what they speak in the Philippines, right?  Ta-Ga-Logue is the conversation: the monologues and dialogues of Filipinos living in the United States. These are OUR stories, voices, and experiences used to educate, inspire and remind others that they are NOT alone. It is a movement set to empower and unite our community.

This Nuyorican Poets Café fundraiser debut is a glimpse into the larger premiere of the show in October 2012 for Filipino American History Month.  The Nuyorican presents groundbreaking works of literature, music, theater, performance art, poetry slam, hip hop, visual art and champions established as well as rising artists from every background imaginable.

a-Ga-Logue is produced by Leslie Espinosa, Kilusan Bautista, and Precious Sipin.

For more information please contact us directly at

Do YOU have a story to tell?

The producers of 
Ta-Ga-Logue are currently seeking submissions of original pieces to be showcased at the Tagalogue event. The fundraiser debut is just a glimpse into the larger premiere of the show in October 2012 for Filipino American History Month.

Raise your voice and perform an excerpt from your story to our community. The fundraiser will be held at the famous Nuyorican Poet’s Café on Saturday, July 21st from 6pm to 9pm.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I need your Facebook vote. Why? I am a 2012 Nominee for The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York Award

NEW YORK CITY |   According to the letter I received (reprinted below), I am a 2012 Nominee for The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York Awards (TOFA-NY), an annual awards event held during Filipino American History Month celebration.

Nominations are based on merit. However, I need your help. Final winners are based on the total number of LIKE's clicked on Facebook.

Visit this TOFA-NY Facebook Page link below and please click the LIKE tab below my name:

--> For your "LIKE" to count as a vote, please CLICK on my picture in this Facebook Page and then please CLICK "LIKE" tab, word or button. You’re done.

In order for your vote to be counted, please click the photo of the TOFA-NY nominee first. Then hit the LIKE word or button. Liking the wall post does not count as a vote.

You don't have to be a New Yorker to vote. Share this link with your friends and ask them to vote for me, please. I need the votes!

Winners will be awarded in a gala ceremony to be held at Carnegie Hall on October 27, 2012.

Artwork by Ernie Pena and Troi Santos

It was an exhilarating -- and exhausting -- week. The Tofa board pored over hundreds of names submitted to this year’s The Outstanding Filipino Americans. Then we realized there’s just so many Filipinos doing unbelievably outstanding work in their trade and professions.

We are thrilled and deeply honored to present the nominees to the 2012 The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York. We thank the legions of friends and families who believed in them and sent us their bios. The final vote is up to you, the Filipino global community. The final date for voting is Friday, October 5. On October 27, we will all gather at Carnegie Hall to honor this year’s 2012 Tofa-NY awardees.


Congratulations, Randy Gener. 

You have been selected as a nominee to the 2012 The Outstanding Filipino Americans in the New York Tri-State (TOFA-NY), representing the category of MEDIA & PUBLISHING.

An awards ceremony celebrating Filipino American History Month will be held on October 27 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall. Consul General Mario Lopez de Leon Jr. will keynote the event, and community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis will deliver an inspirational address.

Please follow this link to learn more:

TOFA-NY was created to give recognition to individuals and organizations that have raised the profile of the Filipino American community in a unique and positive way – and to celebrate their achievements. We are a group of multimedia professionals well plugged into the community. While we know many of the personalities in traditional as well as grassroots advocacy organizations, pre-selection was based entirely on merit.

To make this year’s TOFA truly a people’s award, voting will be conducted in all transparency via Facebook. We suggest you invite your friends and networks to vote. This is not a fundraiser. There are no fees involved and no selling of tickets to win.

We are trying this novel idea for the second time this year. We believe social media is crucial in getting the word out about the many personalities and organizations that have made us one significant and dynamic community in this part of the U.S.

The final voting will be on October 5 at 12 midnight. Winners will be known to all after that.

Tofa Board

Elton Lugay
Myrna Gutierrez
Rolan Gutierrez
Grace Hufano Labaguis
Ronald Labaguis
Marisse Panlilio
Cristina DC Pastor

Artwork by Ernie Pena and Troi Santos