SAN FRANCISCO — Filipino American theater artist Tasi Alabastro has been named Silicon Valley Creates’ Emerging Artist Laureate for 2018.
Silicon Valley Creates (SVCreates), an arts-support organization, will hold an award ceremony for Alabastro and its other laureates on June 21 at Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, California.
SVCreates’ SVArts Awards, which has been given out since 1991, recognizes “exceptional achievement in the arts and contributions to the cultural life of Silicon Valley.” Recipients receive cash awards to celebrate and encourage their artistic work.
The program will be emceed by Filipino American Michael Isip, executive vice president and chief operating officer of news and media organization KQED.
In its Facebook account, SVCreates posted, “Congratulations, Tasi Alabastro! [He] will be honored … for his work and his commitment to enriching our community through the arts. Tasi is an actor, online content creator and photographer whose work focuses on reflecting his community and culture.”
Relief and elation
Alabastro was in the middle of doing a livestream video broadcast when he received the phone call to inform him of his award.
Since he was unable to answer his phone, he glanced at the email alert instead. “My heart flew! It was a mixture of relief, elation, and welling pride,” he says.
Relief because he almost did not apply for consideration.
On the last day of the application period, he had been through an exhausting week and had limited internet access. “All of [those memories] came rushing back to me and I thought, ‘Thank goodness I finished my application!’”
“One of the rad aspects of what SVCreates has developed through this laureate is the sense that you’ve got a milestone to clock,” he says.
He contrasts the career of an artist to that of, say, an office-based professional. “Oftentimes, as an artist, you aren’t moved through your career the way it would be in many positions in a company, i.e. promotion to manager, CEO, etc.”
“One of the things I share with artists who are just starting out is to learn to identify what you think your milestones are. If you can’t look back and see how much you’ve been growing, you’ll have a challenging time navigating what’s ahead.”
It was heartbreak that brought Alabastro into theater work.
Born and raised in American Samoa (“I’m quite fond of where I grew up!”), he moved to San Francisco after from graduating high school to pursue a degree in microbiology.
A failed relationship prompted a respite in Hawaii. “It was there that I decided to take an acting class and the rest, as they say, is history.”
It’s fortunate for SF Bay Area theatergoers that Alabastro returned and has since established a profession on the stage and in film.
He’s worked with theater groups such as Bindlestiff Studio, 06 Ensemble, Santa Clara Players, and City Lights Theatre Company, among others.
He also works with inmates in state prisons as part of Arts-in-Corrections, a program that re-engage participants with their creativity and imagination.
Alabastro is currently rehearsing for Dragon Theatre’s staging of Richard Greenberg“Three Days of Rain.”
He will play a prodigal son who returns home to join his sibling to discuss their late father’s will. Both soon discover a series of family secrets.
“I remember the day I finished reading the script. I thought, ‘Damn, that’s one hell of a story.’ It took me another read-through to finally digest some of the more complex ideas and themes. The writing is so rich and there’s so much for an actor to wrangle and play with.”
“Dragon Theatre is a place I’ve worked in several times in as an actor and a few other times as a graphic designer.”
He previously played lead character Orestes in the group’s production of a modernized take of the Greek tragedy “The Libation Bearers” and was part of the cast of mystery thriller “The Woman in Black.”
“I’m excited to help bring this story to life with director Meredith Hagedorn and this team. This play is Meredith’s swan song. It’s her last play before she retires as the artistic director.”
“Rehearsals have been an immensely engaging experience. Some of my initial reactions have persisted through rehearsal, the sense of wonderment at the script and how much there is to comb through, the elation that I’m being challenged as an actor, and the determination to make sure I help tell the story to its fullest potential.”
“Three Days of Rain” runs May 25–June 17 at Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway, Redwood City. Visit Dragonproductions.net.