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Fil-Ams star in Chicago thriller on fake news, media manipulation

/ 03:31 AM November 17, 2017

Christine Bunuan (left) in Silk Road Rising’s “Wild Boar.” SILK ROAD RISING

CHICAGO — Christine Bunuan and Karmann Bajuyo are playing the leads in Silk Road Rising’s staging of “Wild Boar,” a “turbulent thriller about media manipulation and fake news,” which runs until December 17 at Chicago Temple Building.

Written by acclaimed Hong Kong playwright Candace Chong, “Wild Boar” depicts a student and her editor’s quest to publicize the truth when a controversial professor goes missing.

Originally staged in Cantonese, “Wild Boar” is an adaptation by playwright David Henry Hwang (Trivia: Hwang’s mother was born in China but grew up in Cebu before immigrating to the US.)

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Christine Bunuan, who plays Tricia, was born in Vallejo and raised in Vacaville, both in California. Growing up, Bunuan saw other Filipino girls her age singing in talent shows.

Christine Bunuan plays Tricia. SILK ROAD RISING

“I wanted to sing just like them,” she said. “Then I saw children’s theater production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ with a bunch of kids and thought, if those kids can do it, then I can do this, too.”

The four-foot tall mezzo-soprano has worked with Chicago theater companies such as Steppenwolf, The Goodman, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, among others.

Six-foot tall bass-baritone Bajuyo plays Ruan. He was born in Peoria, Illinois and moved to Chicago in the late ’90s. Originally involved in athletics and pursuing a career in law, he became interested in acting while attending an acting class in college.

Aside from working in productions at Porchlight Music Theatre and Timer Lake Playhoues, Bajuyo has acted in Danny Bernardo’s play “Mahal” for Bailiwick Theater.

Research and reflections

Both actors prepared for working on this play by holding discussions on and reviewing the background of the story’s milieu.

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“The research I did consisted of reading up on the history of Hong Kong and asking questions of our director Helen Young, who is very familiar with the city,” says Bajuyo.

Karmann Bajuyo plays Ruan. SILK ROAD RISING

Bunuan adds, “With the help of our dramaturg Carol Ann Tan, who is from Singapore, we discussed the culture, the political climate in Hong Kong as well as China’s influence”

When it comes to accessing news and information, Bajuyo follows business and sports news as well as Chicago’s PBS affiliate WTTW. “I am on Facebook and Instagram but certainly not consumed by either. I am not a social media nor TV addict.”

“I have actually stepped away from Facebook quite a bit because of the cyberbullying that I have seen out there,” reveals Bunuan.  “Now, I mostly just post about shows or events that are happening in the community and then I leave.”

For her news sources, Bunuan reads articles from the New York Times or Washington Post. “I also listen to NPR. Our current political climate can be depressing at times so I turn to John Oliver for some humor about our news.”

She adds, “It can be difficult to know what is real or fake news.  I do hope that this play will educate people to dig deeper to find the truth, understand the importance of doing their research and consider who their sources are. Social media seems to be the source of news for many people. They have become so quick to judge and state things as fact but don’t take the time to step back and really see the big picture and dig for the truth.”

“The play hopefully challenges the audience to apply their critical thinking skills to the news they hear or see on social media,” says Bajuyo. “I think we have to be especially discerning when seeing ‘news’ on social media that corroborates our own point of view. In these instances, we must be diligent about researching and validating a story before we just post the link onto our social media account. Snopes, FactCheck, Politifact, PunditFact are all great websites to check the veracity of a statement, report, or article. Assuming they themselves can be trusted.”

“Wild Boar,” previews until Nov. 18, runs Nov. 19-Dec. 17 at Silk Road Rising, Chicago Temple Bldg., 77 West Washington St., Chicago. Visit SilkRoadRising.org.

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TAGS: “Wild Boar”, Candace Chong, Christine Bunuan, David Henry Hwang, FactCheck, fake news, Karmann Bajuyo, media manipulation, play on fake news, Politifact, PunditFact, Silk Road Rising, Snopes
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