Los Angeles's East West Players final play of the 1996-97 season marks a milestone in the company's 32-year history. The world premiere of A Woman from the Other Side Of the World by Linda Faigao-Hall -- June 15 through July 13 -- is the final production before their fall move to expanded quarters in downtown Los Angeles.
Faigao-Hall's works have been presented by New York's Pan Asian Rep and Philippines Performing Company and San Francisco's Asian American Theatre Company.
Other Side tells the dramatic story of a single Filipina-American mother and the ungo, or witch, she engages as nanny for her 8-year-old son, who is beginning to search for his cultural roots. Besides the ungo, there are mythical figures from Filipino folklore. Heading the cast are Allison Sie, best known for her hosting duties on the Encore movie channel; Tony Johns, a 10-year-old who instructs martial arts (he holds a black belt); and Marilyn Tokuda, a TV actress and co-founder of the Asian-American improv group Cold Tofu, as the woman in the title.
Director Alberto Isaac, who has worked in literally every capacity at EWP since its founding in 1965, is enhancing his staging using poetry, music, dance, and the folk arts troupe Kayamanan Ng Lahi (with choreography by Joel Jacinto). Isaac said there is some comic relief in the play. Isaac's past work has been honored by Drama-Logue and Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle awards.
Other Side is the fifth play of EWP'S season and the last at its 99-seat Silver Lake space. This fall, Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures launches a new 236-seat theatre in the Union Center for the Arts, the former Union Church (built in 1922) at 120 North San Pedro Street. The capital campaign for the remodeling of the interior raised $1.5 million from loyal patrons and grants, such as EWP's partnership with AT&T in the New Voices Project. "This is an exciting new venture for us," said managing director Luisa Cariaga, "and the new space will do much to excite the Asian community about us. Among the many benefits, in addition to more than doubling our seating, are better accessibility, a safer neighborhood, free parking, appealing physical amenities, and the close proximity to Little Tokyo with its restaurants and shops."
EWP artistic director Tim Tang said the larger space provides more dressing room and rehearsal space. "In fact," he noted, "the rehearsal space is large enough for us to use it as an alternative black box for experimental works."
East West Players current location is 4424 Santa Monica Boulevard, Silver Lake. For tickets and information, call (213) 660-0366, or refer to the East West Players regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
-- By Ellis Nassour