Captures Filipino Experience
"Dogeaters" is a pejorative term made up by American
military forces occupying the Philippines to deride Filipinos
who once served up culinary canine concoctions.
When Jessica Hagedorn,
a New York-based writer who grew up in the Philippines, wrote
a groundbreaking novel -- later adapted for the stage -- that
analyzes Filipino identity and relations between the Asian
country and the U.S., she chose Dogeaters as its
A production of the
play Dogeaters will open at Smith on Friday, Dec.
1, in the first of six performances directed by Krystal Banzon
’07. The play will run Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 6-9, at 8 p.m.
in the Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre, Mendenhall Center for
the Performing Arts. The audience is invited to a reception
with the cast and crew following the opening night performance
Hagedorn will visit
Smith on Wednesday, Dec. 6, to lead a discussion, at noon
in the Green Room at Mendenhall Center, about the themes and
issues in Dogeaters. She will attend the play in
session, moderated by Banzon, will take place on Monday, Dec.
11, at 4:10 p.m., also in the Mendenhall Center Green Room.
the experience of the late-20th-century Filipino as formed
by centuries of Spanish colonization, then decades of U.S.
occupation, all reflected in a staged conglomeration of media
and information amid the turmoil of Ferdinand Marcos’
corrupted regime. Set in Manila in 1981, Hagedorn’s
play combines Philippine history with entertaining fiction,
juxtaposing stark realism with theatrical spectacle to depict
a multiplicity of characters, who fill the stage babbling
in English, Spanish and Tagalog, the main Philippine language.
The novel Dogeaters,
which was published in 1990, won an American Book Award that
year and was nominated for the National Book Award.
was a long time coming,” said Hagedorn recently from
her home in New York City. “I had always wanted to write
a novel about U.S.-Philippines relations.”
With its “cast
of thousands” and its broad scope, Hagedorn first envisioned
the novel as a film. “The novel is very cinematic,”
she said. “I always thought it would make a good movie.”
Instead, stage director
Michael Greif suggested that Hagedorn adapt the novel as a
play. He directed the play’s first production at La
Jolla Playhouse in 1998.
excited, I look forward to seeing what she does with it,”
said Hagedorn of Banzon’s direction of the Smith production.
“It’s a very ambitious piece for her to do: ethnic-specific,
huge cast, takes place outside the United States in 1981.
A young director like Krystal should do it her way.”
Banzon, who has appeared
as an actor in many Smith productions and as a member of the
improvisational comedy troupe SIKOS, recently directed Silviana
Wood’s And Where was Pancho Villa When You REALLY
Needed Him? As a Kahn Institute Fellow, Banzon is currently
conducting research on multicultural casting.
an all-female cast of students from the five area colleges.
get something out of this play,” says Hagedorn of Dogeaters.
“As with any work of fiction or art, at some level,
it has to stand on its own and tell human stories. I just
hope they have a good time with it.”
are $7 for the general public, $5 for students/seniors. Call