Stage Presence: Conversations with Filipino American Performing Artists

Stage Presence is a collection of essays and interviews with Filipino American performing artists. Each of the chapters features critically acclaimed and popular artists in their own right, who have also mentored hundreds of dancers, comedians, theater artists and musicians of all genres. In this rare collection, performers take time off stage to speak candidly about their creative processes, revealing personal frustrations and triumphs, while testifying to the challenges of what it could mean to be an artist of Filipino descent working and living in the United States. Featuring: musicians Eleanor Academia, Gabe Baltazar Jr., Danongan Kalanduyan; bandleader and poet Jessica Hagedorn; choreographers and dancers Joel Jacinto, Alleluia Panis, and Pearl Ubungen; and theater artists Remé Grefalda, Allan S. Manalo and Ralph Peña. The book also includes a thought-provoking foreword by ethnomusicologist Ricardo D. Trimillos, and an afterword by the editor.

“Fusing history, culture, jazz, and art, Stage Presence is one big happening jam session featuring ten Filipino American performing artists rapping on their craft, their process, their defiance to be boxed in by the category-obsessed American market, and their hunger and struggles necessary to stay true to their vision, identity, and art.”
—R. Zamora Linmark, author of Rolling the R’s, Prime Time Apparitions, and Leche


“This collection of interviews and reflections by many of the leading Filipino American cultural workers demonstrates the range and vitality of Filipino American performing arts – an inspiring and dynamic range of practices encompassing everything from kulintang to head-banging heavy metal, from college PCNs to off-Broadway New York theatre, from the Bayanihan to site-specific performance art. Stage Presence gives us a view rarely available to students, scholars, and audiences: the winding paths through history and identity that led these groundbreaking artists into the spotlight.”
— Karen Shimakawa, author of National Abjection: The Asian American Body Onstage


“When The New York Times looks at Filipinos, it sees only house maids and cooks, copycats, and mimics. But when scholar and artist Theo Gonzalves looks at and talks with his compatriots, he sees stunningly original and creative thinkers who use an eclectic range of forms and methods to make art and perform culture. This book is dizzy and alive with the Filipino soul. Read at your own risk!”
— Karin Aguilar-San Juan, editor of The State of Asian America