Bindlestiff Studio presents Hedda Gabler

Bindlestiff Studio, San Francisco's epicenter for Filipino American performing arts, presents Hedda Gabler, Jon Robin Baitz's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's classic protofeminist play about the illusion of power among the social classes. Hedda Tesman, daughter of the late General Gabler, newly married and bored with both her marriage and life, is reunited with a past lover. This reignites a dormant spirit, setting into motion consequences as she attempts to influence a human fate for the first time. Directed by Alan S. Quismorio and Aimee M. Espiritu. With Esperanza Catubig*, featuring Rose Almario, Ro Ambrosio Birco, Benjamin Couch, Julie Kuwabara, Alan S. Quismorio, and Earlena P. Somera. Supported by the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center. (* Member of Actors Equity)

Hedda Gabler runs for 10 performances only, opens Saturday, April 11, 2015, and closes Saturday, May 2, 2015, with a preview on Friday, April 10, 2015. Performance times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM.

TICKETS: Last-minute reservations can also be made by calling 415-255-0440.

Less than forty-eight hours after returning from a luxurious honeymoon, the former Hedda Gabler, now Hedda Tesman, lies dead in the parlor of her new home, the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Ibsen's terse masterpiece unflinchingly leads us to this shocking but inevitable conclusion. At the center of the play is one of the greatest roles in modern drama, the fascinating Hedda Gabler, who finds herself stranded in a seemingly ordinary but dangerously imbalanced domestic system. It includes her husband, the ambitious scholar George Tesman, his doting Aunt Julie and the powerful Judge Brack, who seems intent on playing a very large role in the young couple's life. Into this mix comes an old schoolmate of Hedda's, Thea Elvsted, who has courageously abandoned a loveless marriage in favor of the passionate partnership she has found with the troubled Eilert Lovborg, a brilliant thinker who is an academic rival of Tesman's and who shares an intense secret history with Hedda. Employing methods that virtually defined the modern psychological drama, Ibsen stealthily reveals the bitter conflicts and thwarted longings that lie just below the "civilized" transactions of daily life.

Esperanza Catubig as Hedda Tesman and Ro Ambrosio Birco as Judge Brack (Photography by Egan and Rio Gache Hernandez )

Esperanza Catubig as Hedda Tesman and Ro Ambrosio Birco as Judge Brack (Photography by Egan and Rio Gache Hernandez )

Hedda Gabler, as produced by Bindlestiff Studio, takes Henrik Ibsen's themes of gender roles and class that shocked Norwegian theatregoers in 1891 and applies it to an era in the Philippines' own history--the 1950s--when the country modernized in the wake of postwar prosperity and an academic class began to emerge and support itself through schools and through industry. The Philippines has long-been a matriarchal society within the domestic realm; within the era of this production, Filipinas began their fight towards realizing their potential outside the familial influence.

Working with Jon Robin Baitz's 1999 adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's proto-feminist classic of world theatre, Bindlestiff Studio examines the roles and social status of Filipina women by re-imagining turn-of-the-century Christiana (Oslo in the modern-day) stylistically as the mid-20th Century Philippines, where headstrong Hedda Gabler returns from her honeymoon and confronts the commitments and expectations of marriage in the face of an unexpected visit from an old beau that rekindles her true wild nature.

Creatively, Bindlestiff Studio's Hedda Gabler offers Filipino American theatre artists--and, by extension, Asian American theatre artists--to opportunity to mount a classic of world theatre that is one of a profound collection of works that U.S. theatre companies do not readily and easily cast with actors of color or trust in the hands of directors and dramaturgists of color to culturally understand. In the end, this production will be a compelling argument towards inclusivity.

Esperanza Catubig will be portraying the complex role of Hedda Gabler Tesman. Esperanza is an exceptionally seasoned and respected talent within the Filipino American community and has been acting professionally for over twenty years, appearing in stage productions, educational theatre, commercials, industrials, a one-woman show, and eventually TV and film. She was born and raised in San Francisco, studied dance, music, and theatre at School of the Arts, and moved on to graduate with a BFA in Acting at SMU in Dallas, TX. She has traveled all over the US, Europe, and China doing what she loves, acting. Having lived and worked throughout Los Angeles for eight years, she came to terms that she wanted to tell more Filipino-American women’s stories, to celebrate “home” and since then co-wrote, starred, and produced her first short film, "Nico’s Sampaguita".

Esperanza Catubig as Hedda Tesman (Photography by Egan and Rio Gache Hernandez )

Esperanza Catubig as Hedda Tesman (Photography by Egan and Rio Gache Hernandez )

Bindlestiff Studio's Artistic Director Alan S. Quismorio will co-direct as well as play the role of Hedda's husband George. Previous to this tenure, he functioned as Artistic Director of AlchemySF at the Jon Sims Center (1999-2004) and with the Asian American Theater Company (AATC) (2008-2010). He oversaw AlchemySF, the emerging playwrights program at the Jon Sims Center, where he developed new works by Bay Area playwrights Joe Besecker and Nicola Harwood, directed Harry C. Cronin's critically-acclaimed Dooley and Dark Matter, and produced the award-winning staging of Joe Jennison's A Beautiful Man (Best Comedy and Best of Fringe honors at the 2003 SF Fringe). Additional directorial credits include A. Rey Pamatmat's Thunder Above, Deeps Below, Jeffrey Lo's A Kind of Sad Love Story, and Alex Park's Macho Bravado. He recently was affiliated with and managed the playwrighting division of GuyWriters (recipient of the 2010 SF Fringe Box Office Award). He has worked extensively in the SF Bay Area, with the Magic Theatre, Oakland Public Theatre, Brava! Women in the Arts, the Shotgun Players, and Word for Word. He is also an alumni of Crowded Fire Theater Company where, as an actor, he appeared in 49 Miles and Slaughter City. He made his professional acting debut in AATC's Northern California premiere of Chay Yew's A Language of Their Own in 1996.

Aimee M. Espiritu, who currently serves as Bay Area Programs Associate Director for YouthSpeaks, is co-directing this production with Alan S. Quismorio. Prior to YouthSpeaks, Aimee served for over four years as the Community Engagement & Youth Programs Manager for the Children's Creativity Museum. She was a recipient of the Philippines Fulbright-Hays Study Abroad Program through Sonoma State University and a founding member of Today's Future Sound which uses music production and media arts as vehicles through which to empower youth as artists and community members while fostering their well-being as individuals. Through her work with organizations like Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women and Transgender Community (APIQWTC), Aimee is a respected women's issues activist, a credential that benefits a play like Hedda Gabler which marks her first full-length staged production as a director.

About Bindlestiff Studio:

Bindlestiff Studio was founded in 1989 by Canadian artists Chrystene Ells, Chris Brophy, and a group of local theater artists and for many years flourished as an experimental theater space. In 1997, Allan S. Manalo, artistic director for the Filipino theater company "tongue in A mood" became Bindlestiff Studio's Artistic & Managing Director. He transformed the theater into the cultural epicenter for Filipino-American performing arts in the Bay Area that exists today with productions such as Anak Ti Diablo, Alamat, the annual Stories High workshops, and the music events under PiNoise Pop. Bindlestiff Studio opened the doors to its current black box theater on September 15, 2011. Since then, Bindlestiff Studio has produced a number of full-length productions (including A. Rey Pamatmat’s Thunder Above, Deeps Below, Luis H. Francia’s The Strange Case of Citizen de la Cruz, Jeffrey Lo’s A Kind of Sad Love Story, and Lorna Velasco’s Shakespeare reimagining A Pinoy Midsummer), music events, comedy showcases, and workshops attended by over 5000 audience members and serving over 100 artists. Bindlestiff Studio is the only permanent, community-based performing arts venue in the nation dedicated to showcasing emerging Filipino American and Pilipino artists. Bindlestiff Studio provides the often under-served Filipino American community access to diverse offerings in theatrical productions, music and film festivals, workshops in directing, production, acting, stand-up comedy, and writing, as well as a children and youth theater program.