May 25-June 4: Lonnie Carter’s THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO Featuring Jojo Gonzalez, Arthur Acuña, Ron Domingo, Antonio del Rosario and Ramon de Ocampo, Will Stream on Ma-Yi Theater’s Website

Since its founding in 1989, Ma-Yi Theater Company has distinguished itself as one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.

From May 25 – June 4, Ma-Yi Theater is streaming Lonnie Carter’s Obie Award winning play, The Romance of Magno Rubio, based on a short story by Carlos Bulosan, for free on the company’s website. Helmed by Loy Arcenas, the production stars Jojo Gonzalez, Arthur Acuña, Ron Domingo, Antonio del Rosario, and Ramon de Ocampo.

The play tells the tale of Magno, a short Filipino migrant worker who longs for love. Set in the central valleys of California in the 1930’s, the play follows Magno’s long-distance relationship via love letters exchanged with his pen pal Clarabelle, a woman from Arkansas whom Magno discovers through a lonely-hearts ad. Believing he has found the woman of his dreams, the young man fantasizes about their life together, only to soon realize that reality and dreams do not always align.

This performance was filmed before a live audience by Francisco Aliwalas at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila in July 2003, for the Sangandaan Festival with support from the Asian Cultural Council.

The design team features original music and Sound Design by Fabian Obispo, additional Filipino text by Ralph B. Peña, Scenic and Costume Design by Loy Arcenas, Lighting Design by James Vermuelen, Movement Design by Kristin Jackson, with Cristina Sison as PSM. Produced by Suzette Porte and Jorge Ortoll.

This play is based on an original short story with the same title by Carlos Bulosan, author of the novel “America is in the Heart.”

Lonnie Carter. Photo by Lia Chang

Lonnie Carter (Playwright) Lonnie Carter’s play The Romance of Magno Rubio received eight Obies for its production by the Ma-Yi Theatre Company in 2003. His plays have been produced by The Yale Repertory Theater, the American Place Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, the Long Wharf Theater, at the first Asian-American Theater Festival in New York City (2007), the Los Angeles Theater Center’s Latino Theater Festival (also 2007), and festivals abroad (the Philippines and Romania). Magno Rubio  was produced at Inside the Ford Amphitheater in LA in 2011 and at the Entablado Theater in Singapore in 2012.  The play was presented in  Seattle in 2014 as part iof the Carlos Bulosan Centenary and will be reprised in Seattle at the University of Washuington in the Fall of 2015.  Plans for its production at the Perseverance Theater in Alaska are in the works.  His plays include China Calls, The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy, The Gulliver Plays (Lemuel, Gulliver, and Gulliver Redux, published by Broadway Play Publishing), Baby GloWheatley (the Colonial HippeHoppe story of Phillis Wheatley, also published by Broadway Play Publishing), Concert Chicago, and The Lost Boys of Sudan, produced by the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis (Tony Winner for Best Regional Theatre 2003). The Lost Boys (and Girl) of Sudan was produced by Victory Gardens in 2010. He is a charter member of the Victory Gardens Playwrights’ Ensemble. (Victory Gardens was the Tony Winner for Best Regional Theatre 2001). He is an Alumnus of New Dramatists in New York and a Core Member Alumnus of the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Marquette University, a Guggenheim Fellow and twice a Fellow of the National Endowment of the Arts and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.

Carlos Bulosan

Carlos Bulosan (Author) Carlos Sampayan Bulosan (c. 1911– September 11, 1956) was a Filipino American author, poet, and activist. A chronicler of the Filipino American experience during the 1930s – early 1950s, he is best remembered for his semi-fictional, semi-autobiographical novel America Is In the Heart (1946) — a staple in American Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies classes. Though Bulosan was only 42-45 years old when he died of tuberculosis-complicated pneumonia in Seattle in 1956, he left behind a large body of poems, novels, short stories, plays, and correspondence on a range of related topics. Bulosan’s works describe the experience of growing up poor in a rural area of the Philippines, chronicling social and economic conditions created by the American occupation and centuries of Spanish colonialism. Bulosan’s work captures the “push” factors that drove his generation to the United States. Like Bulosan, they hoped to find a better future and forged resilient and adaptive communities in the face of an often-hostile and exploitative European American culture in the United States. First migrating to the United States via Seattle in 1930, he spent several years working migratory labor jobs and labor organizing with his fellow Filipino immigrants. In doing so, Bulosan shared common experience with many other first-generation Filipino migrant workers, most of whom worked in domestic jobs or in agricultural or cannery labor on a migratory labor circuit that spanned the West Coast—from California to Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. — University of Washington Library.

Ralph B. Peña

Ralph B. Peña (Original Filipino Text) Recent Off-Broadway: Felix StarroThe Chinese LadyAmong The DeadHouse/Rules, and Wong Kids in The Secret of the Space Chupacabra, Go! Ralph has been Ma-Yi Theater’s Artistic Director since 1996, and has been instrumental in establishing Ma-Yi Theater Company as the country’s leading incubator of new works by Asian American playwrights, reaping numerous Obie and Drama Desk Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical (KPOP), and most recently, the 2018 Ross Wetzsteon Obie Award. Apart from Ma-Yi Theater, his work has been seen on the stages of Ensemble Studio Theater, the Public Theater, Long Wharf Theater, Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Children’s Theater Company, and La Mama ETC, to name a few. This is for Damien, always and forever.

Fabian Obispo

Fabian Obispo (Original Music) Fabian returns to Ma-Yi, where his composing credits include Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mother Courage, and Felix Starro, among others. Other musicals for which he wrote the music are Long Season (Perserverance Theatre), Dear (Syracuse Stage), and Yellowmoon Rising (NYU). He has also provided music for Yerma (Arena Stage), Black No More (Guthrie), Nothing Forever (New York Theatre Workshop), The House of Bernarda Alba (NAATCO), and The Frogs (Juilliard), to name a few. His compositions have been performed in major concert halls including Lincoln Center and Tcaikovsky Hall in Russia and have won numerous awards for international choral groups. Fabian has composed and sound designed extensively for Off-Broadway and regional theatres. His works have been published internationally in Sweden by Sveriges Körförbunds Förlag and Walter Music Corp., and in Germany by Möseler Verlag Wolfenbüttel, and Carus-Verlag, Stuttgart. He was a two-time resident of the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy and was an artist in residence at Dartmouth College, Ohio State University, New Harmony Project in Indiana, and Sundance Theatre Lab. Fabian is a recipient of the Barrymore Award and the Berkshire Theatre Critics Award.

Loy Arcenas

Loy Arcenas (Director) Loy Arcenas has established career as a theatrical set designer as well as director. He has designed sets for Broadway, Off-Broadway, and major American regional theatre companies. He has collaborated with some of the most exciting American directors and playwrights including Joe Mantello, George C. Wolfe, Anne  Bogart, Robert Falls, Terrence McNally, Craig Lucas, Paula Vogel. For his design work, he has received numerous awards including the Obie for Sustained Excellence of Scenic Design. His directing work is associated with the Ma-yi Theatre Company, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, PETA (Philippine Educational There Association, and Repertory Philippines. He began work directing in films in 2011 and has now four films to his credit. His first, Niño, was co-winner of the best film award of the 2011 Busan International Film Festival New Currents section. His third, Ang Larawan, the Ryan Cayabyab/Rolando Tinio musical adaptation of Nick Joaquin’s Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, received the best film award of the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival.

Founded in 1989 and now celebrating its 30th season, Ma-Yi Theater Company is a Drama Desk, Lortel, and Obie Award-winning, Off-Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers. Since its founding, Ma-Yi has distinguished itself as one of the country’s leading incubators of new work shaping the national discourse about what it means to be Asian American today.

Photos: Playwright Lonnie Carter Talks TRIM, The Tiger Woods What If Story, The Romance of Magno Rubio and The Lost Boys of Sudan 

The Romance of Magno Rubio – A Rite of Passage of the Filipino American Experience Off Broadway

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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