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This week I am excited to bring you a special guest post by Dorothea Gloria (IG: dorotheagloria), a Filipino actress in New York, who addresses the need for diversity in arts and importance to share her own story. Enjoy! And be sure to check out her new theatre company – TeamTheatre LLC.
Being Able to Share My Own Story
Being a Filipino actress in New York, I always auditioned for roles and stories that I could empathize with but these were roles and stories that I could never claim as my own. I’ve done a lot of American stories where I needed to do extensive research on accent, pop culture, and even phrases and sayings that have a deeper meaning and that needs context to be said correctly.
As an Asian, the roles are also limited so I would be cast in different Asian counterparts like as a Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Singaporean, Korean, etc. It feels great to be able to share and perform different stories but there was a need in me to be able to share my own story.
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So I began writing my own stories. It started with a piece called “The Sun Tries Dating.” It was about a woman who tried different cultures to make someone love her. This feels very true to my own journey as an immigrant artist in New York. I always felt like there was a need to assimilate and transform, to change, and adapt different cultures for people to like and accept me as a human being.
It was such a gift to be able to share my own story with a New York audience. I had some of my Filipino family members watching and they laughed and were shocked when I mentioned Philippine references like Jose Rizal and Maria Clara. It felt like they were really watching their own story for the first time.
I then continued to write for myself and also for the people around me. I was surrounded by beautiful artists that loved the idea of sharing their personal story and diversity in arts. They would tell me their own stories, I would write a show about it, then we would perform these stories with a strong sense of ownership. We continued doing this for two years and at the end of 2019, that’s when we decided to create TeamTheatre.
Creating TeamTheatre to Foster Inclusive and Diversity in Arts
My friends and I created TeamTheatre as a means to foster inclusive and diverse artistry. Our first two projects aimed to do just that. For our production of ‘Almost, Maine’, our cast was multi-national and multi-cultural. We wanted our New York audience to see a show that mirrored reality, where it echoes how New York City is a melting pot of different people with different cultures from around the world. We encouraged our performers to keep their native accents and idiosyncrasies.
Our next endeavor after that was Fun Fast Feb Fest, a play festival where we performed 12 original scripts. The festival showcased different narratives like the Lebanese revolution, the hardships of an immigrant to gain meaningful relationships in a foreign country, distinct queer stories, leaving your own family behind to go to another country, and serve as a caregiver, etc. I also wrote my own story called “The Gift of Anxiety” which talks about how moving to New York City from Manila was such a big culture shock.
After the show, a stranger walked up to me saying, “I also have a Filipino friend who reacts the same way you do in your story. I used to get mad at her a lot but after seeing your story, I now understand what she’s going through.” When I heard her say that, I felt like I was doing something right.
We Need to Tell (and Hear) Stories of Inclusivity and Acceptance
Given the current situation of division and anger and hate not just in the US but all over the world, all the more we need to tell stories of inclusivity and acceptance. By telling our own stories, there is an understanding that happens. Right now, we’re having a weekly remote Zoom workshop called “Tea Time with Team” where we workshop new and diverse scripts. Like how we do our shows, we accept scripts and cast actors from all over the world. Our goal as TeamTheatre is to keep propagating stories that celebrate ethnic inclusiveness.
A big thank you to Dorothea Gloria for sharing with us about her journey as a Filipino actress to find outlets and means to tell stories of inclusivity, diversity in arts, and acceptance. As an Asian American, I love hearing her story and hope you have too!
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What voices do you feel are being drowned out and ignored? Whose stories do you want to hear next?