Teatro Pilipino and Filipino Poets Reading
at the Pagdiriwang Festival
The annual Pagdiriwang Festival, a celebration of Filipino cultures, includes a literary reading featuring poets Third Andresen, Dujie Tahat, Jen Soriano, and Gerie Venturaon Saturday, June 1 at 1:00 p.m. in Seattle Center House. The reading is co-sponsored by Pinoy Words Expressed Kultura Arts and robertflor.com. The United Filipino Club of Seattle University provided support. Funding for the reading was provided by 4Culture. Reading is free to the public.
Third Andresen is a Central District Seattle resident, who earned his PhD in Multicultural Education at the University of Washington. He teaches at UW and GRC at the American Minority and Ethnic Studies Department and Comparative History of Ideas: Honors Program. Andresen is known for mixing art with academics to teach and empower his students. His organization, Third World Productions and CREATE Cooperative’s (Culturally Responsive Education, Activities, Teaching and Engagement) mission is to bridge academic achievement gap, cultivate skill set, develop leadership, and increase community engagement by offering culturally responsive after school programs and curricula.
Jen Soriano is a Filipinx-American writer and communications strategist originally from Chicago. Jen’s writing blurs the boundaries between nonfiction, surrealism and poetry. Her essays appear in Pleiades, Waxwing, and other journals, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart, Best of the Net, and the Newfound Prose Prize. Jen lives in Beacon Hill and holds an MFA from the Rainier Writing workshop. Her innovative essays, which blur the boundaries between literary non-fiction and poetry have appeared in Pleiades, Waxwing, Assay, and TAYO among other publications. Her essay “A Brief History of her Pain” was nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize and 2018 Best of the Net and her chapbook manuscript Making the Tongue Dry was a finalist for the Newfound Prose Prize, the Cutback all-genre chapbook contest and the Gazing Grain Press chapbook contest. Jen holds an MFA in nonfiction and fiction from the Rainier Writing Workshop and a BA in history and science from Harvard University.
Dujie Tahat is a Filipino-Jordanian-American writer and political hack from Washington state. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Arcturus Magazine, Cascadia Rising Review, Across the Margin, Crab Creek Review, and The American Journal of Poetry. His essays on poetry and politics have appeared in the Seattle Review of Books and Civic Skunk Works. He serves as poetry editor for Pacific Northwest literary magazine Moss and received a Jack Straw Writing Program Fellowship. A former Seattle Poetry Slam Finalist, collegiate grand slam champion, and Seattle Youth Speaks Grand Slam Champion, representing Seattle at HBO’s Brave New Voices. Dujie writes in search of belonging and community. A current Hugo House fellowship resident, Dujie will work on a poetry chapbook about the US Census—specifically, how shared grief, identity, power, and political will shape who gets counted and who remains unseen. Find him on Twitter @dujietahat.
Gerie Ventura is the Director of Library Circulation Services at Highline College. She’s a writer, poet whose poems were featured in Seattle’s Poetry on Buses program in 2014 and 2016. Her Filipino immigrant ancestors inspire her. She enjoys gallivanting all over the world, dabbling in genealogy, and writing about growing up brown in Tacoma, Washington. She is a recipient of an ACLR scholarship and has been involve in the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA). She earned an MLS at the Emporia State University, Portland (OR) campus with a concentration in Leadership and Administration and expects to graduate in August 2015. Gerie is active with the Washington Library Association and Administrator of the Greater Seattle chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society.
Teatro Pilipino was born in 2015 when renowned Gregory Award winner, Sara Porkalob, performed her solo piece “Dragon Lady” for Pagdiriwang. Since then, Sara has performed Dragon Lady in Boston for Oberon Theater, and expanded the story of the women of her family in a trilogy of plays chronicling the life of her grandmother, her mother, and herself.
Sara’s rise to prominence in the Seattle theatrical scene also mirrors the growing presence and recognition of Filipino-American artists living and contributing their talents, stories, and representation to our city’s culture. It also reflects a vibrant trend of Fil-Am artistic visibility across America, a long time coming, but blessedly and finally here, now. This year, for the first time, Teatro Pilipino has grown to proudly present two days of performances of new and original works by Seattle Filipino-American theater artists.
Matt De la Cruz is a first generation Filipinx American writer, educator, and performer. He is an alumnus of the University of Washington’s Drama program, and of the Circle In The Square theater school in New York City. Matt will perform two of his solo performance pieces: “Tita Ester,” a tribute to his mother and her love for her family, and the loving acceptance of her son, and “Mr. DC,” chronicling his time in NYC, and the events that led him to being an educator, and discovering a new dimension of himself in the process.
Rheanna Atendido and Mara Elissa Palma will present “Tides of Fortune”, a new musical work in progress. It tells the story of a woman attempting to fully accept all the parts of her identity and discovers dreams aren’t always what they seem.
Mara Elisa Palma is a 1.5 generation Filipina working in Seattle as a playwright, performer, producer, and teaching artist. She came to Seattle from Boston to work with Sara Porkalob to work for the Intiman Emerging Artist Program, and shortly thereafter, met Eloisa Cardona who was working on Bob Flor’s plays. Both Eloisa and Rheana connected Mara to the Filipinx Community. Mara and co-creator, Rheanna Atendido, were chosen for 5th Avenue Theater’s First Draft: Raise Your Voices Summer 2018 for their new musical, “Tides Of Fortune”. She is a proud graduate of Wellesly College.
Maritess Zurbano was born and raised in both the South Side of Chicago and Willowbrook, IL. Her Mother is originally from Ilocos Sur, her Father from Bicol. She is a Master Magician, Hypnotist and Author. Maritess has performed her Mentalism and Magic Shows internationally, in Las Vegas, and throughout the USA. She is the only Female Filipino-American Professional Magician / Mentalist / Hypnotist in history.
Sean Dagiwa is a writer and a director born and raised in Moore, Oklahoma. After living in several cities in the United States, he finally settled in Seattle in 2008. After earning his BFA in Theater Arts from the University of Idaho, he began working professionally in Seattle. Currently, he works at Seattle Repertory Theater as the purchaser for the production department. He enjoys telling stories about identity and belonging, and human connectedness that transcends nation, race, and gender, blended with a little magical realism.
Rheanna Atendido is a UW Musical Theater alumna. She is a local singer-songwriter and theater artist. She has performed with 5th Avenue Theater’s Adventure Musical Theater, the school touring program of 5th Avenue Theater. She was also in the ensemble of 5th Avenue Theater’s production of “Mama Mia” (which brought Fil-Am actor Paulo Montalban, the Prince in Disney’s musical, Cinderella, to Seattle to perform role of Sam). She has written and performed two of her original musicals, “Cultural Essay”, a solo piece about writing a required essay for college entrance, and “Break Up Bench”, where a girl brings her boyfriends to a particular bench to break up with them, in theaters around the Seattle area. Rheanna hopes to fully produce “Break Up Bench” in the near future.
These gifted and generous Artists are a solid representation of our present Fil-Am theatrical community. Teatro Pilipino is proud to present them for Pagdiriwang 2019 — Sining Pilipino, and to the greater Seattle Filipino Community.
For the past several years now, there have been a growing number of Filipino American artists who are actors, actresses, directors, playwrights, and professionals who have been major contributors in the Greater Seattle theatre community. Among them is Eloisa Cardona.
Eloisa was influenced at a very young age by the live performances of the world-renowned “Bayanihan Dance Troupe”.
Eloisa’s experience with the Bayanihan encouraged her to receive instructions on Filipino Folk Dance from two icons of the Filipino Community: Dorothy Cordova and Dolly Castillo. Since those formative experiences in the performing arts, she also sang in her Cleveland High School Choir and Vocal Ensemble, participating in their yearly spring musicals. But acting always held her fascination. After graduating from high school, Eloisa went to Seattle Central Community College where, among other things, she took an introduction to theatre class. From then on, she knew she didn’t want to be a business major. After transferring to the University of Washington she became serious in pursuing an acting career. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Drama.
As she shares her passion for acting, she explains to me what she and other Filipino American artists would like to see happen with their own careers. According to Eloisa, regardless of ethnic background, their audience is not just Filipino Americans or Asian Americans, but the general society as a whole. They want the theatre to be reflective of current populations. Gone should be the days of “traditional”, all-white casting in known classics, i.e. Shakespeare, or even contemporary plays where certain roles are not ethnically specific, or being cast only for Asian roles. But in a theatre scene where the voices of other ethnic groups are now being added, such as Latino, Vietnamese, Indian, and Middle Eastern to name a few, the Filipino presence, voice or point of view have been missing quite substantially. Eloisa wants to help bring stories of being Filipinos in America out into the theatrical consciousness. “There are so many stories and histories that need to told!”
Robert Francis Flor, PhD, a Seattle native, was raised in the city’s Central Area and Rainier Valley. His poems appeared in Raven Chronicles, Poetry on the Bus, Soundings Review, Four Cornered Universe, 4 and 20 Journal, the Wanderlust Journal, the Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry Review, Baseball Bard, Poets Against the War, the Seattle Post Intelligencer (2005) and the Field of Mirrors anthology (2008), Voices of the Asian American Experience (2012) University of Santa Cruz and Where Are You From? the Thymos Book Project (2013), Portland, Oregon. His poetry chapbook Alaskero Memories was published by Carayan Press, Ltd in 2017.
His plays largely take place in Seattle's Filipino community. His full-length play Daniel’s Mood, was a Studio Lab selection (2011) at Freehold Theatre. Scenes from My Uncle’s Letters were read in the ACT Theatre Multicultural Playwrights Festival in 2014. The Injury (2013), Pinoy Hill (2014) in Pinakbet (2015) were performed in the Eclectic Theatre Festival. Salamangka’s Barber Shop was showcased at the Burien Actors Theatre (2015). These were performed again in 2018 at Seattle's Filipino Community Center. Mabuhay Majesty was produced at the Rainer Arts Center in 2017. Christmas Snow Globes was read at the Shawanee Playhouse in Pennsylvania in 2020. Reminisce, The Great Ube Baking Contest, Salamangka Returns and Pinoys Play Ball are plays in progress. The FAYTS was retitled to Adama and the Demons and currently in revision.
Robert co-chairs Pinoy Words Expressed Kultura Arts. He graduated from the Artist Trust 2010 EDGE Writers Development Program. In 2018, he received a King County 4Culture Fellowship Award. He is a member of the American Writers & Writing Programs, Academy of American Poets, Artist Trust, Theater for Puget Sound, Rain City Writers, Seattle Playwrights Circle and the Dramatist Guild.