ST. PAUL, Minn. (March 11, 2015) — History Theatre in partnership with Mu Performing Arts will produce the world premiere of a fun new comedy by local artist Eric “Pogi” Sumangil and directed by Randy Reyes. The Debutante’s Ball offers an inside look into the pageantry, customs, and teenage angst that are all part of the Valentine’s Ball and Presentation of Debutantes and Escorts.
It’s high drama for Ana (Stephanie Bertumen) and her friends as they prepare for the Debutante’s Ball. It’s all happening around Valentine’s Day and you’ve got to have the right dress, the right shoes, and “OMG! Who will be my escort?” The pressure mounts for the young women and their escorts as Tita Belinda, the legendary dance instructor, demands perfection in the execution of the waltz. It’s a bright new intergenerational comedy about reclaiming our cultural identity and discovering how we fit in to this ever-changing American puzzle.
“I’ve always loved backstage dramas. With The Debutante’s Ball, you’ll see the pomp and circumstance of the Ball and get a glimpse into the sacrifices made by parents and how hopes and dreams affect the next generation,” shares Sumangil, a former Debutante’s Ball escort, about this coming-of-age story set within Minnesota’s thriving Filipino community.
This charming new play is about more than just the Valentine’s Ball, an annual event hosted within Minnesota’s Filipino-American community. It’s about finding the balance between tradition and assimilation, parental pressure and personal independence. Since 1978, Minnesota’s Filipino-American community has gathered for this annual rite of passage which celebrates the vibrant Filipino heritage and the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
“I am thrilled that the History Theatre committed to telling the story of the amazing Filipino community here in Minnesota,” said Reyes, Mu Performing Arts Artistic Director. “ The fact that the Filipino experience doesn’t get told very often, there was an added pressure on Eric to write the quintessential Filipino American story including every Filipino experience. This is a real and impossible pressure. It’s a hardworking community with great pride and a humility that can sometimes add to their invisibility. This production puts them front and center and I couldn’t be more excited.”
“This is a play about assimilation and the American experience. With smart and intelligent strokes, playwright Eric “Pogi” Sumangil tells his story of how his community touches the lives of many of his friends as they struggle to define their role in American society,” describes History Theatre Artistic Director Ron Peluso. The Debutante’s Ball was part of last year’s Raw Stages: New Works Festival.
“History Theatre has always been interested in the immigrant experience. This story is something that both new immigrants and anyone with an interest in family immigration experiences will find interesting and entertaining. This new play is smart, funny and emotionally charged.”
The Debutante’s Ball will premiere Saturday, March 21, 2015 as part of the 2014-15 season.
The Debutante’s Ball
OPENS: Saturday, March 21, 2015
CLOSES: Sunday, April 12, 2015
PLAYING: Thurs, Fri, Sat. @ 8 p.m. | Sun. @ 2 p.m. | Thurs. @ 10 a.m. (March 26, April 2 and 9)
Complete performance schedule is included on page 4
TICKETS: Tier 1 $38; Tier 2 $34; Tier 3 $30
Seniors (60+ years old) get $2 off | Students (5 to 18 years old): $15
Discount rates are available for groups of 12 or more.
Audio Described and ASL interpreted performance on April 5, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.
Tagalog-translated performances: April 11-12, 2015.
Performing at History Theatre, 30 East Tenth Street | St. Paul, MN 55101
History Theatre Box Office at 651.292.4323 or www.historytheatre.com/tickets/
About the Play
It’s high drama for Ana and her friends as they prep for the Debutante’s Ball. It’s all happening around Valentine’s Day and you’ve got to have the right dress, the right shoes, and “OMG! Who will be my escort?” The pressure mounts for the young women and their escorts as Tita Belinda, the legendary dance instructor, demands perfection in the execution of the waltz. Join us for an inside look at this coming-of-age story set within Minnesota’s thriving Filipino community, written by former Debutante’s Ball escort Eric “Pogi” Sumangil. It’s a bright, new intergenerational comedy about reclaiming our cultural identity and discovering how we fit in to this every-changing American puzzle.
About the Artists
Eric “Pogi” Sumangil
Eric “Pogi” Sumangil has been one of the most often-mispronounced names in the Twin Cities theater community for the last 15 years. His full-length plays include The Duties and Responsibilities of Being a Sidekick and Kicking The Gong Around. His work has been seen in New York & Minneapolis. He is a native Minneapolitan & a co-founder of The Unit Collective, a Playwrights’ Center Affiliated Writer, a member of the Dramatists Guild & Actors Equity Association. He is a recipient of the Fil-Minnesotan Association’s Excellence in the Arts award, and a two-time recipient of the Many Voices Fellowship at the Playwrights’ Center.
Randy Reyes is Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts where his previous directing credits include FOB and Kung Fu Zombies Vs. Cannibals. DIRECTOR: Ten Thousand Things: A Streetcar Named Desire; Theatre in the Round: Summer and Smoke; Bloomington Center for the Arts: Thoroughly Modern Millie; The Strange Capers: As You Like It; Pillsbury House Theatre: King of Shadows; Randy trained at The Juilliard School and the University of Utah.
Stephanie is a University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program 2014 graduate. She was in Spelling Bee (Theatre L’Homme Dieu) and DISENCHANTED! (Illusion Theater). She will play the role of Viola in Mu Performing Arts’ upcoming production of Twelfth Night at Mixed Blood.
Opening Night Post-Show Reception
Meet the Playwright
March 28, 6:30-7:30pm Rehearsal Hall ($5 suggested donation)
Sundays at 4:15 p.m. FREE to ticketed patrons
Patrons are invited to stay for a lively post-show discussion following every Sunday matinee featuring aritsts and special guests talking about topics related to the production
3/22: From Page to Stage
Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, Playwright
Randy Reyes, Director, The Debutante’s Ball
3/29: Point of View
Past Debutante’s Ball escorts Eric “Pogi” Sumangil and Allen Malicsi
4/5: Behind the Scenes
Cast of The Debutante’s Ball
4/12: Creating the Dance
Past choreographers of the real Debutante’s Ball
Complete performance schedule is included on page 4
About History Theatre
Since 1978, the History Theatre Experience has created:
Inspiration. The History Theater Experience brings real stories about real people to the stage in an immediate experience that touches our lives.
116 world premiere performances, more than any other theater in the Twin Cities. The History Theatre is one of the country’s most impressive new play development homes – bringing to full production new work by Jeffrey Hatcher, Melanie Marnich, Craig Wright, Kim Hines, Dorie Baizley, John Olive, Kira Obolensky, and more.
Brave, entertaining explorations of all the histories that make up our diverse community. From Farm Boys to Snapshots: Life in the City, from the celebratory Wellstone! to the dark, complex Piece of the Rope about Minnesota’s first public execution, HT has moved Minnesotans to rediscover, relive, and respect every piece of their history. More than 200,000 students have connected with history through performances at HT.
History Theatre is equipped with an FM hearing enhancement system. We offer ASL interpreted and Audio Described performances. We have complimentary wheelchairs for those patrons who need extra assistance into the building. The handicap-accessible entrance is on Cedar St. Just inside the entrance is an elevator that will take patrons to the theatre level. Patrons are asked to indicate any special needs that when ordering tickets.
About Mu Performing Arts. Mu was first founded in 1992 as Theater Mu, a theater company dedicated to bringing Asian American voices to the stage in the Twin Cities at a time when Asian American theater did not exist in the area and the Asian American community was rarely recognized. After forming Mu Daiko, a taiko drumming ensemble, the company rebranded itself as Mu Performing Arts, reflecting our broad artistic base of theater, taiko, and artist development.
The Debutante’s Ball
Performance Schedule, 2015
March 21-April 12, 2015
AD/ASL = Audio Description & American Sign Language interpreted performance