Leviathan Lab, a creative studio for Asian American Pacific Islander theatre artists, will present a nine-show, work-in-progress production run of LEARNING HOW TO READ BY MOONLIGHT, a new play by Gaven Trinidad (Rising Leader of Color, Theatre Communications Group), and directed by Mauricio Tafur Salgado (Co-Founder, Arts Ignite; Core Faculty, artEquity) and Maria Camia (THE HEALING SHIPMENT, Jumpstart Festival, La Mama ETC). The developmental production is the culminating event of Leviathan Lab’s designation as a recipient of the Episcopal Actors’ Guild’s (EAG) Open Stage Grant, which provides an active and emerging NYC theatre company six weeks of space and production support in EAG’s historic performance space at Guild Hall in the Church of the Transfiguration at 1 East 29th Street, 2nd floor in Manhattan. EAG’s Open Stage Grant is funded with generous support from the New York State Council of the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Teri Black Performance Fund.
Tickets for Leviathan Lab’s workshop production of LEARNING HOW TO READ BY MOONLIGHT are available on a sliding scale, $10 – $25, with proceeds being split between the charitable programs of EAG and Leviathan Lab. In addition, a portion of the proceeds will go to support Churches United for Fair Housing, a grassroots organization that works towards community empowerment through community organizing, youth engagement and by providing sophisticated social services. Reserve tickets through Humanitix at https://events.humanitix.com/learning-how-to-read-by-moonlight.
LEARNING HOW TO READ BY MOONLIGHT follows an undocumented Filipino family’s search for sanctuary during the presidencies of Trump and Duterte, as seen through a six-year-old boy’s eyes. The all-Filipino cast includes SERGIO MAURITZ ANG* (FROM NUMBER TO NAME, East West Players), PATRICK ELIZALDE, KRISTIAN ESPIRITU* (Off-Broadway: HERE LIES LOVE; INTERSTATE, East West Players), VANESSA RAPPA (Off-Off-Broadway: SCRIBBLED LINES, Poetic Theater Productions), and CLARO DE LOS REYES* (Off-Broadway: NO-NO BOY and SHOGUN MACBETH, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre; Film: The Plane [Jean-François Richet, dir.]; Founder/Director, Atlantic Pacific Theatre).
The cast will perform original music and songs written and composed by playwright Gaven Trinidad to help tell the story. The play will be spoken in English and Tagalog with subtitles and translation.
For each show in the run, a new narrator (a fellow artist, community organizer, or elected official) will join the cast every night. Each of the ten guest narrators will read the play aloud to the audience, having neither seen the play nor read the entire script. They only know their lines. They experience the play for the first time with the audience. The guest narrators slated to appear include:
Fri, Feb 10 IYVON EDEBIRI, Artistic Director & Host, The Parsnip Ship and Director of
Artistic Programs, Signature Theatre
Sat, Feb 11 EVA SANTOS VELOZ, Distributed Organizer, United We Dream and DACA recipient
Thu, Feb 16 ROGER Q. MASON, Playwright & Performer (Page 73 Fellow; Chuck Rowland Pioneer Award)
Fri, Feb 17 LIA CHANG, Actor, Journalist, Photographer (2022 Prospect Muse Award), and Filmmaker (DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award, When the World Was Young (star)), TV Host and Executive Producer of BACKSTAGE PASS with Lia Chang
Sat, Feb 18 SALMA ZOHDI, Dramaturg and Associate Director of Development & Communications, Noor Theatre
Wed, Feb 22 CHING VALDES-ARAN, Obie Award-winning and Lucille Lortel-nominated Actor
Thu, Feb 23 LUIS FRANCIA, Poet, Playwright, Journalist, and Nonfiction Writer (PEN Open Book Award and Asian American Literary Award for his memoir Eye of the Fish)
Fri, Feb 24 VICTOR I. CAZARES, Tow Playwright-in-Residence, New York Theatre Workshop
Sat, Feb 25 DANIEL K. ISAAC, Drama Desk-Nominated Actor, Playwright, and star of Showtime’s “Billions” (Off-B’way: YOU WILL GET SICK (actor), Roundabout; ONCE UPON A (KOREAN) TIME (playwright), Ma-Yi Theater)
LEARNING HOW TO READ BY MOONLIGHT will feature an all-ALANA design and production team, including projection and scenic design by CINTHIA CHEN (Off-B’way: AMERICAN (TELE)VISIONS, NYTW; SUITE/Space Resident, Mabou Mines); lighting design by ALEX ALIPIO (TARTUFFE, Fordham Theatre Mainstage); sound design by JORDAN BERNSTEIN (BLUE FIRE BURNS THE HOTTEST, Exponential Festival/The Brick); and puppet design by MARIA CAMIA. BING MAGTOTO (Faculty, Filipino School of NY & NJ) and LYDIA GASTON (Broadway: MISS SAIGON, KING & I; Film: Easter Sunday [Jay Chandrasekhar, dir.]) will serve as the production’s Language & Co-Cultural Consultants. Production stage management will be provided by MARS NERI (BODY THROUGH WHICH THE DREAM FLOWS, Ice Factory Festival, New Ohio Theatre) and ARA TANDON (YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING, IRT Theater). JENNI OGASIAN (2022 Telly Award, A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER, CollaborAzian) will serve as Producer and ARIEL ESTRADA (Founder/Producing Artistic Director, Leviathan Lab) will serve as Executive Producer.
LEARNING HOW TO READ BY MOONLIGHT was a Finalist for the 2021 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and a Finalist for the 2021 EAG Barbour Playwrights Award and has received several developmental workshops through Leviathan Lab.
* Denotes an Equity member appearing with permission of Actors’ Equity Association without benefit of an Equity contract in this Off-Off-Broadway/indie theater production. LEARNING HOW TO READ BY MOONLIGHT is an Equity-approved showcase production.
ABOUT THE PLAY
Under the moonlight, six-year-old Eddie imagines a dragon eating moons and an imaginary friend teaching him English. His mother smokes as she prays to a statue of the Santo Niño. His father waits alone in Manila for their daily phone calls. Songs from a mythical giant turtle travel across oceans but are drowned by the voices of Duterte and Trump on the television. As fantasy and reality become indistinguishable, the family is forced to learn how to articulate unspoken truths that will either break them or heal them. How will the weight of living undocumented in New York City force them to reevaluate their understanding of “community,” “dreams,” and “home”?
Please note that LEARNING HOW TO READ BY MOONLIGHT explores urgent issues faced by Filipino communities in the United States, as well as mental health, racism, government sanctioned police violence, and xenophobia with a vulnerable and tender heart. Leviathan Lab encourages its audiences to explore these themes as a community, be witness to each other’s humanity, and to lean in with empathy and love so that all may support each other throughout the production.
ABOUT LEVIATHAN LAB
Founded in 2009, Leviathan Lab is an award-winning not-for-profit creative studio whose mission is the advancement of Asian and Asian American (A/AA) performing artists and their work. Through the speaking of A/AA artists’ words, and the presentation of A/AA bodies, presence, and gestures, Leviathan works to open spaces that promote social justice, bridge communities, and assert the power of art to change the world. We function as a lab where artists can be courageous, experiment, and thrive, even as they create works that captivate the audiences we serve. www.leviathanlab.org
ABOUT EPISCOPAL ACTORS’ GUILD
Founded in 1923, EAG is a nonsectarian 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to provide emergency aid and support to professional performers of all faiths and none who are undergoing financial crisis. EAG is also dedicated to helping emerging artists advance their careers through scholarships, awards, and performance opportunities. EAG is also a membership organization that welcomes the participation of all those who are interested in celebrating the talent and dedication needed to sustain a career in the performing arts, and holds several events each month with all proceeds being used to support performers in need. www.actorsguild.org.
ABOUT CHURCHES UNITED FOR FAIR HOUSING
Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH) is a grassroots organization that works to achieve community empowerment through community organizing, youth engagement, and by providing sophisticated social services. CUFFH believes that housing is a human right, that housing justice is racial justice, and that all New Yorkers regardless of their income level, race or immigration status deserve to live in a home that is safe, affordable and permanent. www.cuffh.org
ABOUT ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION
Actors’ Equity Association (“Equity”) is the labor union representing American actors and stage managers in the theatre. Founded in 1913, Equity represents more than 51,000 professional Actors and Stage Managers nationwide. Equity seeks to foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of society and advances the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans. Actors’ Equity is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions. www.actorsequity.org
Humanitix is the not-for-profit ticketing platform that gives events impact, putting booking fees toward closing the education gap. Humanitix’s programs include meals for disadvantaged school kids, education programs for girls and scholarships for indigenous students. Learn more about Humanitix at www.humanitix.com/us.