Fil-Am theater group Circa Pintig heals, resists, trolls, cries | Inquirer

Fil-Am theater group Circa Pintig heals, resists, trolls, cries

/ 11:52 PM April 26, 2018

From left: playwright Conrad Panganiban, Circa Pintig program director Ginger Leopoldo and Circa Pintig artistic director Louie Pascasio. CONTRIBUTED

CHICAGO — Filipino American theater organization Circa Pintig will hold a fundraising show and dinner on April 29 for its 2018–19 season.

Titled “Healing and Justice” the fundraiser will be held at Drury Lane Theatre (where a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical “South Pacific,” directed by Filipino American Victor Maog, is running until June 7).

“Now on its 27th year, Circa Pintig renews its vows to cultural work,” says executive director Angela Mascarenas.

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“We believe in the critical role of community arts in promoting social justice. Through theater performances and workshops, we tell stories and create dialogue from our own interpretation of history and culture.

“Circa Pintig could not have endured the many challenges that came its way without the support of its volunteers, audiences, donors, funding agencies and community partners.

““Join us for an evening of cultural celebration and volunteer appreciation, of sharing stories, reconnecting, reaching out and enjoying food mixed with music, dancing and fun!”



One of the fundraiser’s goals is to raise seed money for the group’s summer workshops that will be open to the community from June to August.

“These workshops are critical and central to our work and will include community dialogues, research and data gathering for script-development as well as educational-dramatic activities around this year’s theme. All these activities will culminate in our major production in the fall.”


During the dinner, excerpts of the plays “Alamat (Legends),” by Filipino playwright Rodolfo “Rody” Vera and “The Perfect American,” by Conrad Panganiban, will be performed.


The group will then stage a work-in-progress production of “The Perfect American” in the first week of May, to be helmed by the group’s current artistic director, Louie Pascasio.

The comedy is about Beverly, a strong-willed Filipino entrepreneur whose mission in life is to teach new immigrants how to become the “perfect” American.

She pushes this dream further by landing an audition with a cable TV executive but must contend with a meddling grocery store clerk from Kyrgyzstan and a mysterious person from her past.

The play asks, “How much is a person willing to give up to reach the American Dream?”

“The Perfect American” serves as Circa Pintig’s entry to Ma’at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre (MMPACT)’s “100 Acts of Resistance!”—a series of shows that “taps the talents of Chicagoland’s diverse artist community … to leave the echo chamber of our own personal politics … to listen and connect to our communities, our struggles, and our strategies to transcend the divisiveness that dominates the national conversation.”


“We are very excited to have a chance to share this play,” says Ginger Leopoldo, who plays Beverly.

“We are a big supporter and fan of Conrad’s work and are honored to work on staging it. We are doing all we can to give voice to his piece.”

The rest of the cast is rounded out by Kim Fortner, Brian Kung and Ryan Viloria.

Born in Quezon City, Leopoldo moved to Chicago when she was five years old. She received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in theater from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

An educator, actor, director, and community organizer, Leopoldo is a founding member of the group and is currently its program director.

“I work on artistic and educational programming and community outreach and collaborations,” she explains.

In addition to acting for Circa Pintig, her acting credits include other groups in the Chicago area such as Old World Theatre, COR Theatre, Prologue Theatre and A-Squared Theatre.

Panganiban’s recent credits include “Welga,” a play about Filipino American labor leader Larry Itliong, which was staged by Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco last year.


Circa Pintig’s upcoming productions for its 2018–19 season includes “A Game of Trolls: Reimagined,” an adaptation Filipino playwright Liza Magtoto’s play, scheduled for September to October.

“This reimagined version looks into the internal mindset of the millennial generation and how social media conversations in the age of trolling obscure critical dialogue on politics and history,” says Mascarenas.

From February to March 2019, the group is planning to stage Giovanni Ortega’s “Criers for Hire,” a comedy about Filipino American women who are hired to cry at funerals. Problems arise when their newest member has the opposite effect on people, making them laugh instead.

“Criers for Hire” was premiered by East West Players in Los Angeles in 2016. Circa Pintig’s planned production in 2019 will be in partnership with Halcyon Theater.

Circa Pintig fundraiser show and dinner is on April 29 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, Chicago. To donate, visit contact +1-773-480-4824.

“The Perfect American” runs May 4 and 6 at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Visit

READ about the 2017 staging of Conrad Panganiban’s “Welga” here.


READ about the 2016 staging of Giovanni Ortega’s “Criers for Hire” here.


READ about CIRCA-Pintig’s silver anniversary here.


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TAGS: Circa Pintig, Filipino American actors, play, Rodgers and Hammerstein, stage production, Victor Maog, Walter Ang
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