SAN FRANCISCO – A mixed media production highlighting stories inspired by the first wave of Filipino workers who immigrated to the United States will run from Friday through Sunday, Dec. 3-5 at 7:30 p.m. at ODC Theater in San Francisco
Panis told INQUIRER.net that she drew inspiration from stories of the manong generation of Filipino Americans from the 1910s to 1940s for the production.
The show consists of a live dance performance and film premiere that feature a total of seven numbers, three of which will be performed live. Audiences can expect to learn through the show about the fear Filipino Americans felt as people of color in the early 20th century, Panis said.
“[email protected] Is Deity” also explores how manongs found respite — yet also faced danger — in taxi dance halls; how they worked in farms, factories and first-class hotels, and how they created labor unions.
Much of the stories told in the “[email protected] is Deity” — which is fiction — are based on interviews with five of Panis’ friends who are descendants of Filipino workers that arrived in the United States in the early 1900s.
WATCH: [email protected] Is Deity Trailer
Panis said that a driving force behind the work she creates is increasing the visibility of the Filipino Americans, not only to the general population, but within the community itself. She added that her work as an artist focuses on the creation of characters, and humanizing the histories and experiences of the community.
“I think our culture, at least here in the United States, has always been, ‘Don’t rock the boat.’ ‘Don’t do anything that’s going to get you a lot of attention’,” she said. And it’s something she believes contributes to the erasure of Filipino American history.
Some of her previous productions have covered more taboo topics including mental health and incest in Filipino American families, seeing spirits and incarceration.
“I started to think about writing stories that we ourselves in our community never want to talk about; all the shameful don’t-air-the-dirty-laundry kind of issues,” she said.
Panis said she hopes audiences who watch “[email protected] is Deity” will be inspired to learn more about Filipino American history. Each of the shows this weekend will be followed by panels that will cover three different topics: the process of creating productions and the importance of funding, how to create music for film and stage, and art and community organizing.
“My feeling is that we generate so much energy after seeing a show,” she said. “So this will be a way for the audience to actually direct that energy towards action so that they can sign up and help out, volunteer, write letters, etc.”