Flipside, Pintig Cultural Group, at the Preston Bradley Center for the Arts. The war of assimilation still rages for many Filipino-Americans, but the emphasis has shifted since the post-World War II era, when immigrants struggled to find acceptance. Today’s youth faces an even more insidious enemy–the loss of cultural identity. And that loss is at the core of the two one-acts in “Flipside,” an evening that documents the Filipino-American experience during the social and political upheavals of the Vietnam war.
Ermena Vinluan’s Dang Dang Kids examines the ravaging effects of the war through the eyes of three first-generation Filipino-American and Afro-Filipino-American children. Siblings Gemma and Alex adopt different forms of social protest while childhood friend Buddy relives the horrors of battle in a drug-induced, nearly catatonic state. But the play begins to unravel toward the end, when Vinluan’s characters are pinned under the weight of the script’s didactic messages.
The evening’s second offering, written by four people, takes a much subtler approach. Alien Citizen is a mosaic of intercut monologues and individual anecdotes collected from real-life interviews with Filipino immigrants–it’s a play about characters, not about making statements. A detailed look at the process of naturalization that never loses its sharp focus, this one-act benefits greatly from its diverse voices. And it never attempts to give its open-ended struggles some sort of false resolution: rendering its stories in vivid colors, Alien Citizen is an absolutely riveting piece of theater. –Nick Green