Making Up the Rules

31 Mar

Tonight is the opening night of Ma-Yi Theatre Company‘s world premiere of House Rules! We did some great tweaking and refining from preview to preview, and the cast has gotten more and more comfortable with each successive audience. In other words: WE ARE SO READY FOR YOU!!! I’m really excited to share the show with everyone. And, hey look: pictures!

House Rules

James Yaegashi as Rod, Tina Chilip as Twee, Jeffrey Omura as JJ, Tiffany Villarin as Momo, and Mia Katigbak as Vera

It’s been fascinating getting reviews for one show while getting another one ready for the public. The experience has caused me to reflect generally on the reception of my plays. As I mentioned in that conversation with Sam Hunter, from the very beginning, writing House Rules has been about writing people of color (in this case Filipinos/Filipino-Americans) from an insider’s point of view. It’s not a play about displaying ethnicity for non-Filipinos/Filipino-Americans. Nor is it a play where race or ethnicity is presented as a problem. It’s a play that asks you to see the perspective of American people of color as the every person perspective.

Will people who are not Filipino/Filipino-American or even Asian/Asian-American step into those shoes? Because although the response to About Face Theatre‘s production of after all the terrible things I do has been overwhelmingly positive, when it hasn’t been I’ve been criticized for not portraying Linda (the Filipina character in the play) as an absolute other, for not showing her struggles as an immigrant against being an outsider, or for not showing how the color of her skin or her ethnicity makes her different from white Americans. I’m criticized for putting her at the center of her experiences as an immigrant and person of color rather than orienting her story around white America. This is similar to unquestionably biased critical reception of my other past plays, particularly Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them.

House Rules

Jojo Gonzalez as Ernie and Conrad Schott as Henry

House Rules is chock full of immigrants and children of immigrants whose struggles have nothing to do with whether white America accepts/oppresses them or not. Sure they fight about identity and ethnicity, but they also struggle with sibling rivalry, uncertain lovers, parental mortality, and adult independence. These are the issues that I’m concerned with but after the past few years of critical reception I can’t help but wonder: who out there will tell me that I’m once again putting incomplete or unrealistic or non-dramatic people of color onstage, because I’m not making the struggle against whiteness central to their dramas or identities?

Maybe people will finally get it. Maybe they’ll understand that I’m writing American plays for an audience of Americans — one that contains people of multiple genders, ethnic origins, ages, abilities, and sexualities. Maybe they’ll see House Rules the way they see Long Day’s Journey Into Night — as a family play — and they’ll resist pigeon-holing it as an immigrant play (which they “somehow” manage to never do with O’Neill despite his immigrant parentage).

House Rules

Tiffany Villarin as Momo and Tina Chilip as Twee

Whether they do or not, come and see for yourself, because I plan to keep on writing plays that secure a primary place for people of color and queers within the American narrative no matter what they say. And because the care and professionalism on display thanks to Ma-Yi, this cast, and this creative team is worth more than the price of admission. We can’t wait to share it with you.

* * * * *

HR Poster

House Rules

Or, The Wrong Dude
by A. Rey Pamatmat

Rod thinks the game is fixed. Momo’s still learning the rules. Twee doesn’t think winning is enough. JJ hates his hand. And why the hell is Henry still playing? Two families (and some guy named Henry) panic with hilarious and heart-breaking results when they realize their parents won’t be around forever. Can anybody prepare for the inevitable moment when they’re the ones left holding all the cards?

With Tina ChilipJojo Gonzalez, Mia Katigbak, Jeffrey Omura, Conrad SchottTiffany Villarin, and James Yaegashi

Produced by Ma-Yi Theatre Company
HERE Arts Center
145 Sixth Avenue
March 25 – April 16, 2016

Click Here for Tickets

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One Response to “Making Up the Rules

  1. Y York March 31, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

    You are everywhere. Congratulations. XXxX y

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