Fil-Am actor-director Sara Porkalob sweeps ‘18 Gregory Awards
SEATTLE — Filipino American actress, director and playwright Sara Porkalob has won three 2018 Gregory Awards for her musical “Dragon Lady.”
She won Outstanding Actress in a Musical for the production which she wrote and acted in. The show, which has music composed by Pete Irving, also won Outstanding Musical Production.
Winning Outstanding Sound/Music Design for the musical were Irving, Erin Bednarz and Matt Starritt.
Named after Gregory Falls, founding artistic director of A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) and a former chair of University of Washington’s School of Drama, the awards are administered and produced by Theatre Puget Sound (TPS).
In a Facebook post, Porkalob wrote, “I’m thankful for TPS and for all of the individuals in our community who pull off with aplomb this humongous event that many of our community look forward to every year.”
“Dragon Lady” is about the story of Porkalob’s Filipino gangster grandmother. She wrote the play to “honor and celebrate where we came from and who we are.”
The musical was staged in 2017 for Intiman Theatre and was directed by Andrew Russell, the company’s artistic director. That same year, Porkalob was co-curator for the company.
A native of Bremerton, Washington, Porkalob moved to Seattle to take up theatre at Cornish College of the Arts. It was during her senior year when “Dragon Lady” began to germinate, incarnating initially as a seven-minute piece.
Through the years, the piece had gone through different titles and formats such as a cabaret and a dinner-theater piece before emerging as a musical.
Porkalob’s recent credits for acting include “String” (Village Threatre) and “Howl’s Moving Castle” (Book-it Repertory Theatre); directing credits include “Inside Out and Back Again” (Book-it Repertory Theatre) and “Persimmon Nights” (Café Nordo).
Excerpts from her acceptance speech include, “Thank you to every single person in this city who has supported my original work and to the matriarch of my family, Maria Elena Porkalob Sr.
“We have an administration that is weighing a move to define gender as strictly biological, denying the very basis of transgender identity. Families are still being torn apart at the border. Survivors speak their truth and their abusers walk free into influential positions of power. Innocent black people die every day at the hands of police brutality.
“Our regional theaters wonder how to make ‘equity and justice’ more than a chapter title in their HR [human resources] manual, and still consider ‘diverse’ audiences ‘outreach’ rather than just their audience. Regional theaters wonder how to make their donor base more diverse and yet they’re not willing to lose some, if not all, of their white donors in order to do so.
“I say this because all art is political—and you can fight me on that. For it to be anything else is a privilege. We must support and share queer, trans, POC [people of color], disabled, bilingual, indigenous, intergenerational, immigrant, black stories because our city and our nation is wealthy with them. They’ve existed for hundreds of years. And they’re the future.”
Filipino American actor Ray Tagavilla was nominated this year for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “King of the Yees” for ACT.
Hosting the awards ceremony at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall was Fil-Am actor Don Darryl Rivera—he originated and has been playing Iago in Disney’s “Aladdin” on Broadway since the show opened in 2014.
Rivera won Best Supporting Actor last year for playing Sancho Panza in 5th Avenue Theatre’s “Man of La Mancha.” (Porkalob hosted last year with Fil-Am composer and actor Justin Huertas).
In 2019, American Repertory Theater in Boston will produce “Dragon Lady” and “Dragon Mama,” Porkalob’s play about her mother and the second in her planned trilogy about her “mixed, Filipino, immigrant, poor, black, queer family.”
READ about Sara Porkalob and her gangster Filipino grandmother here.
READ about Ray Tagavilla in “Persimmon Nights” here.
READ about Justin Huertas composing the music for ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ here.
READ about Don Darryl Rivera, the Filipino American winner at last year’s Gregory Awards, here.