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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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More Positive terrible things

29 Mar

AFtt ReviewsThe good news keeps on rolling in. Two more great reviews of About Face Theatre‘s after all the terrible things I do came out this weekend.

REVIEW: after all the terrible things I do (Chicago Theater Beat, March 28, 2016)

Buzz-eriously! 3 reasons to see after all the terrible things I do from About Face Theatre (Buzz On Stage Chicago, March 29, 2016)

I am so thrilled by the show and that Chicago has welcomed it with open arms. I love that city so much, and I’m glad I could contribute something meaningful to their theatre scene. Don’t miss this chance to see the amazing, critically-acclaimed work of Andrew Volkoff, Colin Sphar, and Lisa Tejero. There are ten performances left!

House Rules Starts Previews Tomorrow!

24 Mar

HOUSERULES_artby_NoahScalin-404x270You’ve seen the pictures from tech on social media (oh, you haven’t? Go here!), which means previews for Ma-Yi Theatre Company’s world premiere of House Rules is right around the corner. Like, literally right around the corner. Like, tomorrow.

I am so excited for this production team and these amazing actors who are having a great time bringing these characters to life. I’ll be posting more about the play as we approach opening night on March 31st, but for now I thought I’d just reshare this interview from The Lark’s workshop of the play where Sam Hunter asked me about House Rules’s origins.

And what’s a House Rules post without another video promo shot by the lovely Rehana Lew Mirza? Get a load of this ridculousness!

HOUSE RULES – Ernie, JJ, and Rod from Ma-Yi Theater Company on Vimeo.

Join us for the show! You can get tickets here. And wish us breaking legs at our first preview tomorrow night!!!

I Posted Too Soon

23 Mar

Time Out Chicago reviewed About Face’s production of after all the terrible things I do half a day after I posted all those other ones, and they gave us 4 stars!

“[A] smart and keenly acted About Face Theatre production… after all the terrible things I do, like O’Hara’s “Poem,” is a quietly evocative consideration of forgiveness.”

REVIEW: after all the terrible things I do (Time Out Chicago, March 23, 2016)

SERIOUSLY, EVERYBODY, GO BUY TICKETS NOW. Don’t do that thing where you try to go in the last week, and you can’t get in even if you pay full price. See it now, or at least get your tickets. There’s even a promotion for $20 matinee seats if you use the code AFT20 going that probably won’t last much longer considering all these amazing notices.

AFtt SC

Excellent Reviews for terrible things at About Face Theatre

23 Mar

AFtt JeffIn terms of critically acclaimed productions, after all the terrible things I do is officially three for three. Congratulations to Andrew and everyone at About Face Theatre!

“Pamatmat… upends the pat notions we may have about the dynamics of homophobia and bullying…. Andrew Volkoff’s handsome production has much to recommend it, especially in the nuanced give-and-take between Sphar and Tejero, from good-natured teasing to spiky anger.”

‘after all the terrible things I do’ lets words drive the action (Chicago Tribune, March 22, 2016)

“Andrew Volkoff’s staging for About Face Theatre offers dynamic performances by Colin Sphar as a young, gay writer with a big secret and Lisa Tejero as an aging bookseller with one of her own.”

REVIEW: after all the terrible things I do (Chicago Reader, March 22, 2016)

“A lacerating drama by A. Rey Pamatmat… magnificently mined by Andrew Volkoff….”

Chicago Theater Review: after all the terrible things I do (Stage and Cinema, March 19, 2016)

“I highly recommend this beautiful, engaging performance. If history tells us what happened, it is shows like this that tell us why.”

REVIEW: About Face Theatre’s ‘after all the terrible things I do’ (Showbiz Chicago, March 19, 2016)

“Pamatmat’s writing deftly and eloquently explores people grappling with things they regret, but can’t put right… Andrew Volkoff’s production and his two outstanding actors tell a story that shows people at their ugliest and most vulnerable, and still treats them with great sensitivity… a highly rewarding drama.”

REVIEW: after all the terrible things I do (Chicago Critic, March 21, 2016)

“…a highly polished and authentic two-hander brimming with humor, mystery and drama.”

Strong work in AFT’s after all the terrible things I do (Third Coast Review, March 21, 2016)

“Highly recommended. About Face Theatre is on a roll.”

REVIEW: after all the terrible things I do (Around the Town Chicago, March 18, 2016)

Don’t miss out! Get tickets here before About Face’s production of after all the terrible things I do closes on April 10th.

terrible Chicago Weekend

21 Feb

aatttid-slider-2I was fortunate enough to spend time in rehearsal with About Face‘s production of after all the terrible things I do this weekend. They’re almost midway through their process and doing excellent work! Hanging out with Artistic Director and director of the play Andrew Volkoff was great, and  Colin Sphar and Lisa Tejero  are having a lot of hilarious (and sometimes scary) fun with Daniel and Linda.

There’s information about the production on Broadway World and on About Face’s website and tickets are already on sale here. The theatre is just coming off of a big hit with a production of Philip Dawkins’s beautiful play Le Switch, which has meant tickets for our show have already been selling. Don’t get shut out! I’m serious. BUY NOW.

I’m excited to rejoin everyone for previews March 11 – 13, and I hope that I either see you there or that you catch the show later in the run!

Winter LabFest Flashback

13 Jan

[Hi! I’m cheating! After being swamped all winter, I’m retroactively adding some items of note to my website. This is one of them.]

Some of you are probably thinking, “Wait… isn’t this play old? You’re having a reading of it now?”

Here’s the thing: I’ve given this old chestnut a complete overhaul, and rather than being a standalone piece, Picture 24 is now the first part of a much larger project. I’m not quite ready to talk about it in full, but suffice to say that this is pretty much a reading of an all new play. Less in a Star Wars: Special Edition way, more like a Marvel Ultimate line kind of thing. If you don’t speak nerd, just ask your nerd friends what that means. If you don’t have any nerd friends, why do you like my plays?

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Image by Scum Bag Fag Mag

Picture 24

by A. Rey Pamatmat
directed by Kareem Fahmy

Joey meets Max, and it’s love at first sight… sort of. Joey meets Chuck, but love has nothing to do with it. While preparing an autobiographical photo series for a public showing, the romance and pornography in Joey’s private life start blurring together. Dot com parties, safe sex that’s hot sex, and dial-up Internet welcome you to a queer love story in the year 2000.

With Gideon Glick, Mark Junek, and Jon Norman Schneider

Ma-Yi Writers Lab’s Winter LabFest
Ma-Yi Studio, 260 West 35th Street, Room 203
Wednesday, January 13 @ 7:00 pm

HOWL-ing About Representation

22 Nov

[Hi! I’m cheating! After being swamped all winter, I’m retroactively adding some items of note to my website. This is one of them.]

HowlRoundHey, look! I’m back on Howlround, but this time I’m hanging out with a bunch of friends.

Five Artists Discuss Representation

(Howlround, November 22, 2015)

For this piece, dramaturg (and good buddy) Jeremy Stoller asked Adrienne Campbell-Holt, Gregg Mozgala, Mfoniso Udofia, Ken Urban, and me to discuss issues of race and representation in the American theatre. And we solved it! No, we didn’t. But hopefully we began to articulate problems of representation in playwriting, programming, and audience development.

I am What I am, but I Write What I Want

4 Nov

[Hi! I’m cheating! After being swamped all winter, I’m retroactively adding some items of note to my website. This is one of them.]

PWCThis past March I was asked by the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis to write an instructive piece for their member playwrights. I write such a wide/diverse range of characters, that they felt it would be helpful to explain the process. As it’s something that comes quite naturally to me, it took me quite some time to breakdown an intuitive process into simple, clear(-ish) guidelines. They have now made the article available on their site for anyone to read.

I’m not a first generation, Chinese-American lipstick lesbian working at a teen fashion magazine, I just wrote one for this scene (Playwrights Center, Playwrights Tool Kit)

In addition to thanking the Playwrights Center for believing in the piece, I would also like to thank Djola Branner, Elly Donkin, Will MacAdams, Natalie Sowell, and the students in the Theatre Department at Hampshire College. Last spring when I was writing the article, I spoke with their students and hearing some of their anxieties about writing characters beyond their life experience really helped me to solidify my thoughts for this piece.

I hope other writers find it useful!

Yellow Faces Talking Yellowface

23 Oct

[Hi! I’m cheating! After being swamped all winter, I’m retroactively adding some items of note to my website. This is one of them.]

ATFollowing a much disputed article on American Theatre regarding NYGASP’s recently cancelled yellowface Mikado and an eventual apology for that article by Rob Weinert-Kendt, Pun Bandhu and Angel Desai of AAPAC and I were invited to participate in an Offscript Podcast about the whole kerfuffle. I’m delighted to say that the result of the invitation was a productive dialogue led by Diep Tran that I hope is insightful to everyone out there in theatre-land.

Offscript: Who’s in the Room? (American Theatre, October 22, 2015)

I previously wrote about the controversy in an article for 2amt, if you’d like some further context.

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