‘Nanay’ has Fil-Am twins, monsters and healers on stage in SF Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO — Filipino Jewish American playwright Molly Olis Krost’s play “Nanay” features twins, one of whom is “cohabitating” with a monster.
When Angela arrives to congratulate her sibling Eve on her new baby, she discovers Eve has been living with a creature with an infamous hunger for all things fetal. Does Angela believe Eve’s claims that all is well with her new relationship?
Directed by Fil-Am Yari Cervas, the play is part of Town Hall Theatre’s New Voices Series. A facilitated talkback follows after each performance allowing the playwrights a chance “to receive feedback from audiences in a constructive manner while also giving audiences an insight into the theatre makers’ process.”
Other Fil-Ams involved in the production include costume designer Hope Birdwell and the cast: Lore Gonzales, Sam Topacio and Ann Warque.
“Eve, in her desperation to reforge a loving connection with her mother-culture, traps herself in denial rather than accept the painful reality of loss,” says Cervas.
Cervas, whose gender identity uses all pronouns, is founding Artistic Director of MaArte Theatre Collective in San Diego. Directing credits include “Your Best American Girl,” “The Fire in Me” and “You’re Safe.”
“Enter the manananggal, a vampiric demon by most accounts,” she says. The twist in Krost’s tale is that the manananggal is also a babaylan, a folk healer, Cervas explains,.
“By presenting the manananggal in this way, Molly asks us to imagine what a pre-colonial healing journey might possibly have been. How do our colonized perceptions, whether inherited or learned, villainize indigenous culture, spirituality and healing practices? What happens when we finally wipe away the colonized film from our eyes to see ourselves and our heritage plainly?”
“Can remembering their wounded pasts lead twins Eve and Angela back to self-love and love for each other? ‘Nanay’ is a practice in healing generational mother-wounds in children of the Philippine diaspora.”
“At the heart of ‘Nanay’ is the love and bond of Eve and Angela,” says Krost. “While I don’t have any sisters myself, I grew up surrounded by my mom and aunties. The messy beauty of their relationships with each other and seeing all of the highs and lows they’ve gone through together is the lifeline of this play. ‘Nanay’ is a tribute to them and all they have taught me about love, strength, and how to find healing.”
Krost, whose mother is Filipino, hails from Hayward, California. Now based in the Bay Area and Seattle, her works have been performed or are forthcoming at Magic Theatre, Z Space, San Francisco Playhouse, MaArte Theatre Collective and SOMArts Cultural Center, among others.
Krost says the play has been living and evolving with her since 2018. “It began as my own exploration into the notion that Filipino Americans struggle with discussing mental health, especially around the pains and trauma of pregnancy loss.”
“It ultimately became a play about what it means to be a Filipino American living ‘in between.’ How it often feels like a balancing act of wanting to honor and connect with the history, traditions, and practices we come from but also figuring how to presently live and survive in a colonized world.
“The two sisters’ differing approaches demonstrate how every Filipino American experience is unique and all we can do is embrace the journey that we are all on.”
“Nanay” runs Jan. 20 to 28 at Town Hall Theatre Company, 3535 School St., Lafayette, California. Visit townhalltheatre.com.