Laugh, cry, grow with this ‘unconventionally traditional’ family

The Flores family and how they can be our family too

The Flores family and how they can be our family too. Photo courtesy of Renee Rises

Explore the Flores home and meet a Filipino American family in the Bay Area living in a small, cluttered and comfy house and dealing with the world of a “fairy dust” addict.

Written in prose, poetry and spoken word, “Nanay, Tatay, Anak” recreates an episode in the young life of producer-director Renee Rises. The story is an attempt by the family to understand the secrets that live within themselves, the cultural and generational gaps that divide them and how this unconventionally traditional family navigates through each other’s differences.

Renee first produced the play in September of 2013 at the Mojo Theatre in San Francisco, California and is currently co-producing and co-directing the show in New York.

The play explores issues concerning mental health, unhealthy eating habits, drug abuse, relationship infidelity, undocumented workers rights, and generational and cultural conflicts. She learned that many Filipinos, particularly in the San Francisco and East Bay Area, were impacted by drug abuse, which is one of the major conflicts in the play.

Moving to New York, Renee taught middle school students with special needs for five years in the Bronx before she transitioned into a full-time artist. Though she took a break from education, what she learned in the classroom has and will remain with her as an artist.

In May of 2013, Renee wrote, co-directed and co-produced her first show, “Sidewalk Sisters.” In the play, she wrote “The Apology,” which is a monologue that explores her contentious relationship with her father. This performance helped her realize she needs to explore this particular issue. Renee decided that she would write a play that highlighted her search for forgiveness.

Originally, Renee advertised the show as a “tale” in order to respect her family’s anonymity. While in the San Francisco Bay Area, Renee wanted her parents to see the show, then decide how to move forward in naming this story as a re-imagined memoir. On closing night, both her ‘nanay’ and ‘tatay’ came to see the show. Renee was uncertain of whether or not her father was going to attend. Her best friends gave her word backstage that he was there. Frightened of his reaction, she began to panic and quickly called in the cast to make last minute changes to the show, as she was terrified that the reality she presented was not one her parents could handle.

At the end of the show, she approached her father and he hugged her and said, “I love you, anak,” for the first time in a very long time. Her mother hugged her as well, sharing with her how proud she was. To her surprise, they both laughed, cried and healed through watching their realities on stage. After this, Renee decided that she would claim the story as her own instead of shying away from her reality as a piece of fiction.

In October 2013, after participating in the Filipino American show, Tagalogue Vol. 3, Renee met a crew of talented Filipino American artists. She saw their strengths and talents as huge benefits to re-envisioning the show for a New York City audience. The director of Tagalogue Vol. 3, Andre Dimapilis, became a very good colleague and mentor of Renee. Under his direction she was able to see how his imagination could amplify words on a page as well as bring community to a group of strangers.

“Andre is both a source of creativity and strength to the production process,” said Renee.

In addition, Renee was astounded at the work ethics of Precious Sipin, the assistant director and producer of Tagalogue Vol. 3.

“I was shocked to know that Precious was younger than me, as her talent, ethics and spirit give off the essence of one with many years,” she said. “I’m proud to call them both my family.”

Renee plans to continue building with large Filipino American communities to share her story, as it is one that many people can relate to. In her first run in the SF Bay Area, Renee collected informal data about the issues in the play that affected her most.

Though many people’s family members and friends were addicted to the same drug that impacted Renee’s household, little to no research existed on it.

“Nanay, Tatay, Anak” isn’t just about Renee’s family, it’s about the countless people who can connect to the topics explored in the story.

“It’s about secrecy, and how that can change a family’s openness to one another. It’s about change. It’s about moving forward. And most importantly, this is a story is about love and forgiveness.”

“Nanay, Tatay, Anak” isn’t just a story about a real family, it’s the beginning of community dialogue. It will be staged at the Roy Arias Studios 300 W 43rd street on the following days:

December 12th, 13th and 14th
December 12th at 7:30 pm (Artist night) $25
December 13th at 8:00 pm (Benefit for STP*) $40
December 14th at 2:00 pm (Benefit for STP*), 5:00 pm (Benefit for NAFCON*), and 8:00 pm (Benefit for NAFCON*) $40

For Tickets:

Renee Rises as Maria Flores (Nanay)
Lee Cortez as Christian Flores (Tatay)
Jana Lynne Umipig as Josephine Flores (Anak)
Melanie Dulfo as Joy
Gabriel Tungol as Henry and Kano
Chauncey Velasco as Henry and Kano
Karen Pangantihon as Divine

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