What’s love got to do with it?
San Francisco’s Filipino-American and Pilipino theatre company Bindlestiff Studio has entered that part of the year where they try to figure it out. It’s not a new question mind you, but a question they’ve been trying to answer for many years now, always right around Valentine’s day. There’s not only the love between two people, but love for a sports team, love for a friend, love for family and even love for pearl tea.
The thing about love is that every individual has a vision of what it looks like, what it feels like and what it makes a person do.
“The Love Edition,” which has become Bindlestiff’s play festival tradition in February since 2006, fittingly kicked off on Valentine’s Day this year, running through the first weekend of March. This year’s production theme, entitled “Falling Hard,” is an exciting project for its creators and a continuation of lengthy traditions in San Francisco’s Filipino theatre history. The show includes six plays, seven playwrights, seven directors and 16 actors.
While the company is known as an identity specific space that focuses on Filipino content in the heart of the SOMA Pilipinas Cultural Heritage District, what thrills the producers is that the show is an opportunity to showcase the diversity that exists within the culture.
“This is our space and we can tell any story, not just a Filipino story,” said producer and director Aura San Miguel, a 37-year-old native of Hayward and San Leandro resident.
For San Bruno native and producer Laura Paule, who is participating in her third iteration of the piece, the show is a way to reclaim a narrative.
“It’s really more of a sense of ownership of us being who we are instead of trying to live up to expectations,” said Paule, 29.
The show was originally founded by Bindlestiff artists Chuck Lacson and Rafael “Raf” Lim and has been produced regularly since 2013. It accepts submissions, ultimately deciding on a set number of pieces that give a varied view on love and other dynamics.
Those nuances of love are what Paule believes to be the strength of this year’s show.
“The one through line we see through each of these plays that is illustrated so well is the intense emotion of love and relationships,” said Paule. “It makes us so vulnerable and makes us do things, think things and feel things. We feel them so intensely and it takes you for a ride.”
San Miguel has found her own visions of love in the relationships she keeps, whether it’s her personal friendships or even in finding the love of watching the Golden State Warriors with her parents.
“Love comes in different forms, and it’s not necessarily romantic,” said San Miguel. “You can find love for a snack like boba, it could be anything. You just kind of invest in it and it takes work. You put yourself out there for whatever comes, and we take that leap and take that chance.”
An important aspect of “The Love Edition” is that, even though it’s being produced by an identity-specific company, there is no need to dive into what other people feel is Filipino. Both Paule and San Miguel acknowledge the expectation from some, but certainly do not endorse those expectations.
“Even though (Bindlestiff) is a Filipino-focused space, the plays actually have nothing to do with being Filipino. They just happen to be played by Filipino actors,” said Paule. “There is more of a sense of ownership of us being who we are instead of trying to live up to expectations.”
San Miguel couldn’t agree more.
“This is our space and we can get together and tell anyone’s story,” said San Miguel. “For the most part, Bindlestiff is a place where we don’t have to follow a certain Filipino-ness.”
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
Bindlestiff Studio presents “The Love Edition: Falling Hard”
Directed by Joe Cascasan, Jud Ferrer, Lauren Garcia, Lorenz Gonzales, Lindsay Ordesta, Ely Orquiza, Aura San Miguel
Written by Benita Benavides, Marissa Martinez, Abigail Pañares, Conrad A. Panganiban, Chris ‘Burd’ Quines, Pacita Rudder, George Smart
Feb. 14th – March 2nd
185 Sixth St., San Francisco, CA 94103
Tickets range from $15 – $30
For tickets, call (415) 255-0440 or visit www.bindlestiff.org