ST. PAUL, Minnesota — A Filipino American theater director has been named to the board of directors of a big organization that promotes the development of professional, community and university theaters.
Stage director and actor Randy Reyes will be a board member of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), founded in 1961 with a grant from the Ford Foundation, and has over 700 member theaters and organizations and more than 12,000 individual members nationwide.
“TCG is a dynamic institution with a diverse group of constituents,” says Reyes, who has been artistic director of Mu Performing Arts (Mu) since 2013 and is board president of the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists.
“I’m excited to add my voice as an artist of color, a Filipino American who runs a theater of color, an Asian American theater, in the Midwest. I am excited to learn from my esteemed colleagues.”
This is not Reyes’ first encounter with the organization. In 2006 he was a recipient of its New Generations Future Leaders Mentorship grant.
Born in Manila, Reyes and his family moved to California when he was a child. He grew up in a household where he was encouraged by his mother to perform, sing and dance whenever they had guests.
Reyes went on to study acting at University of Utah in Salt Lake City, then at Juilliard School in New York.
Frustrated at the lack of opportunities for Asian American actors in New York, he relocated to Minnesota after a stint with the Guthrie Theater where he did acting and education work.
He eventually started working with and learning under Rick Shiomi, who had founded Theater Mu (later renamed Mu Performing Arts) in 1992.
“It was an amazing two-year grant that allowed me to learn the inner workings of being the artistic director of Mu Performing Arts with Rick,” says Reyes of the mentorship grant.
WATCH: Interview in 2013 with Randy Reyes on his appointment as artistic director of Mu Performing Arts.
Reyes has had leading roles in “M. Butterfly,” “Yellow Face” and “Flower Drum Song.” He has played the lead in Lonnie Carter’s “The Romance of Magno Rubio,” based on a short story by Carlos Bulosan.
Aside from acting for Mu and other groups in the area, Reyes was given an opportunity to direct a production by Shiomi. This opened the door for Reyes to continue in that path, and he has continued to act and direct since.
As Mu’s artistic director, Reyes oversees season line-up selection, budgeting and fundraising, marketing and administration, hiring and human resources, curriculum development and outreach programming.
A colleague in the profession who had been on the TCG board nominated Reyes to be a new member. When asked if he’d be interested, Reyes said yes.
“Seven years after that mentorship grant, I became the Artistic Director of Mu. And now four years after, I’ve been appointed to the TCG Board. It’s truly been a full circle type of experience. When I stop to think about it, it feels very surreal. It’s great to be invited to the adult table.”
“I have the highest respect for executive director Teresa Eyring’s leadership and look forward to working with her to make TCG the best organization it can be,” he says.
Another Filipino American at TCG is Emilya Cachapero, director of its Artistic and International Programs where she oversees TCG’s grant programs, international programs and selected special projects which include Beyond Orientalism, a national initiative to address the use of yellow face, brown face and whitewashing. Randy Gener was a senior editor of TCG’s American Theatre Magazine from 2002 to 2012.
Meanwhile, Reyes is busy preparing for Mu Performing Arts’ 2017-18 season. The line up will kick off with Leah Nanako Winkler’s “Two Mile Hollow,” a parody containing a dysfunctional family. Damon Chua’s “The Princess Nightingale” follows, a new adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Nightingale” set in eighteenth century China.
In 2018, Sun Mee Chomet’s “The Sex Show” is scheduled for June, an exploration of intimacy, sexual stereotypes, and sexuality in the Asian American community. May Lee-Yang’s “A Korean Drama Addict’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity,” follows in August, a romantic comedy where a K-drama addict with a secret meets a Korean heir.
READ previous coverage of Mu Performing Arts here.