AATC presents Banyan

Banyan is a modern-day, multicultural tale inspired by The Wizard of Oz that incorporates Pilipino fantasy, folklore, and humor. The classic story The Wizard of Oz blends traditional magic with elements of American reality: a Kansas cyclone, a scarecrow, and a man made of tin. Instead of witches, Banyan utilizes the Pilipino obsession with the much-feared aswang, or soul-sucking spirit. Modern-day American reality comes in the form of real and perceived threat of terrorism, kidnapping, and corporate mismanagement that came to the forefront post-September 11.

Oz is located inside the trunk of the tropical Banyan tree, a traditional symbol for fecundity and spiritual power. We begin this fantastic, allegorical journey in the corporate shredding room of an American company drowning in its own corruption. Ona, a dispensable cog in the machine, is beginning to wake up instead of continuing to work like the automatons around her. During her ‘dream vacation’ to the Philippines, she ‘travels’ with a cast of curious characters who both aid and antagonize her on this humorous, uniquely Pilipino journey.

FINALIST, Seattle Repertory Theatre/Hedgebrook Women’s Playwrights Festival 2003, and the Taper Too Asian American Workshop 2003.
Performances: Nov. 3 – 20, 2005. Wed-Sat @ 8PM, Sun. @ 7PM
Nov. 3 (Preview Night); Nov. 4 (Opening Night) - Nov. 20 (Closing Night)

Location: Presented at New Langton Arts Theater, 1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco

Cost: General Admission: $15 advance/$20 at door
Reserved Seating (first four rows): $20 advance/$25 at door (all ticketholders must arrive by 7:45 pm)
Student/Senior/Artists/AATC/Theatre Bay Area Members: $10 advance/$15 at door
Preview Night: $10 advance/$15 at door
Tickets: Call 800-838-3006 or visit HYPERLINK "http://www.asianamericantheater.org" http://www.asianamericantheater.org

Vicki Zabarte as “Aswang” and Ryan Morales as “Ian”

Banyan is the second show of AATC’s 2005-2006 artistic season. The show is directed by Francis Tanglao-Aguas, and features the talents of Perry Aliado, Shelene Atanacio, Roberto Divina, Michael Dorado, James Lontayao, Minette Mangahas, Victoria Mejia, Ryan Morales, Alleluia Panis, Jose Saenz, Ali Wong, Vicki Zabarte.

“Jeannie Barroga has been a seminal playwright from the beginning of our company’s history,” says AATC Artistic Director Sean Lim, “Banyan reflects what only a mature playwright can do. The play dissects folklore, race and identity in a mythical journey through the jungles of the Philippines. The actors, playwright, director and the community built around this play bring long overdue visibility to under-represented Pilipino Americans.”

Francis Tanglao-Aguas, a professor of drama at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, who will be taking a brief sabbatical to San Francisco to direct this production expresses his excitement, “Finally a play that allows humor as the prism to examine this’ new world order’ we keep hearing about. Only Jeannie Barroga can explore global power politics by taking the audience into a roller coaster adventure that has us both thinking and laughing at the same time.”

In The Wizard of Oz, “home” is Kansas. In a modern-day, multicultural world, a Pilipino American woman searches far and wide for her own.

Plot Summary: A woman, during her ‘dream vacation’ to the Philippines, embarks on an allegorical adventure sprinkled with aswang (witch) tales, hostages, romance, intrigue, and ‘symbolic’ terrorism. Her journey through the jungles of the Philippines mirrors her dilemma over her role in a corrupt corporation’s nefarious secrets in a paper shredding room.

Play History: Banyan opens its world premiere production at AATC in November 2005. However, the development of the play itself traveled through an extensive three-year journey. Since 2002, theaters involved with workshops of Banyan include: Ma-Yi Theatre (New York, 2002), TheatreWorks (Palo Alto, 2002), LocusArts (San Francisco, 2004), Bindlestiff Studio (San Francisco, 2005) and Fountain Theatre (Los Angeles, 2005). The play was a Finalist at the Seattle Repertory Theatre/Hedgebrook Women’s Playwrights Festival 2003 and the Taper Too Asian American Workshop 2003.

Story Heroine: ONA, a Pilipino American woman in her 30s is the ‘Dorothy’ of this Pilipino tale of ‘Oz’. Her journey begins in the paper shredding room of a defunct global corporation. Lost in her vacuous life in America, she searches for a true feeling of ‘home’ by embarking on a vacation to her cultural homeland, the Philippines. However her ‘paradise’ is full of soul-sucking witches (aswangs) and terrorist guerilla forces. The friends she meets along the way help her back to America where she can finally find home in her heart.

Jeannie Barroga is an Active Member in the Dramatists Guild. She was literary manager 1985-2003 at TheatreWorks. In 1983, she founded the Palo Alto Playwright Forum. Her Off-Off Broadway play RITA'S RESOURCES was produced by Pan Asian Repertory. She received the Maverick Award (Los Angeles Women's Festival), was awarded the Tino Award, the Joey Award, and was nominated for the CalArts Herb Alpert Award 2000. She also won the Bay Area Playwrights Festival 10-Minute Play Contest and had two plays developed with BAPF. She assisted on TheatreWorks' OO-BLA-DEE and VOIR DIRE, directed the tour of KIN, and KENNY WAS A SHORTSHOP at Brava! for Women in the Arts. Her published plays include: WALLS (Asian American Theater), TALK-STORY (TheatreWorks), and EYE OF THE COCONUT (Northwest Asian American Theater). TALK-STORY has also produced at UC-Davis, Kumu Kahua in Honolulu, with workshops at the Mark Taper Forum, Perseverance Theatre, and Western Stage. Barroga served on panels for Theatre Communications Group, the National Endowment for the Arts, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and at the Santa Clara, Oakland, and Marin Arts Councils. For more information on Jeannie visit jeanniesplays.org.


Francis Tanglao-Aguas recently joined the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia as tenurable Assistant Professor after teaching at Kenyon College and Georgetown University where he directed the labor opera "The Cradle Will Rock" by Marc Blitzstein. Tanglao-Aguas is a recipient of the Audrey Skirball Kenis Playwriting Award and the Palanca Award, the Philippine National Prize in Literature. He is founding Artistic Director of the Ateneo Fine Arts Festival in the Philippines and the Virgin Play Festival at Georgetown. In 1993, he co-founded the UCLA Asian American Film Festival and Theater Underground, UCLA's resident theater company. Tanglao-Aguas graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Theater Magna Cum Laude, and a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting. In February 2006, Asian American Theater Company is producing the American premiere of his solo play “The Sarimanok Travels” at Theater of Yugen.

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Copyright 2005, Roger W. Tang

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