By WALTER ANG
Jan. 5, 2016
"Writing Fragments Home" will have a free-admission staged reading on January 24 at Lohman Theatre, Foothill College in Los Altos, California.
"Dealing Dreams" will be staged from February 12 to 28 by Thanks for the Memories Theatre at Meese Auditorium, Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon.
"Writing Fragments Home" is presented as part of the Asian American New Play Series at Foothill College. A talkback session with the playwright and cast will follow after the reading.
A comedy, the play follows the story of a young playwright, Jay, whose life is not going well: Jay's girlfriend has left him, he's lost his job at Barnes and Noble and he's just moved in with his Filipino immigrant mother. She's fine with it, as long as he listens to her opinions.
"Jay has to come face to face with his past, his family and his heritage in order to overcome writer's block and discover his voice," says Lo.
Cast includes Weslei Gabrillo (as Jay), Gemma Bulos, Lee Robin Salazar and Katie McGee.
Lo notes that "Writing Fragments Home" is "not autobiographical per se, but the relationship between the two main characters are loosely based on my relationship with my mom." Both his parents are from Quezon City, Philippines.
This play had its first reading in 2012. "I've been working to really find the play's voice and to create a more rich and complex story. Earlier drafts of the play were definitely more straightforward."
Lo has also been tweaking components of magical realism in the play. "I had to create a set of rules for that magic in order to make the world still feel believable. If anything could happen whenever I felt like it, it would have taken away from the authenticity of the story."
Lo became interested in theater after being assigned a drama project in high school where he had to write and direct his own play.
"That was the moment I felt the power and importance of telling one's own story and I decided that I would pursue theater as my career," he says.
Currently artistic director of The 06 Ensemble theater group, Lo also has directing credits with The Palo Alto Players, The Pear Avenue Theatre, Los Altos Stage Company and San Francisco-based Fil-Am theater group Bindlestiff Studio.
"A resolution of mine in 2016 is to really focus on myself as a playwright," he says. "I've been fortunate to be given so many opportunities as a director and arts administrator but my heart has always wanted to spend more time on my writing."
Lo's recent playwriting credits include "A Kind of Sad Love Story," which had its East Coast premiere in 2014.
Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Lo was inspired to write "Dealing Dreams" - how go-getters Zoe and Trey strive to keep afloat in today's economy, graduating from elite schools only to face unemployment and chances at low-paying "McJobs."
They're under-qualified for jobs they want, over-qualified for jobs they don't want. Then Trey comes up with a striking new concept for a social networking website that, if developed right, might make them rich and change their lives forever.
"It just made sense for me to set the play in that world because it's a high stakes arena that surrounds me every day," Lo says.
"I watched a lot of my peers struggle to find their identity within the social and economic atmosphere of the post-college 'adult world.' I saw this wave of uber qualified individuals not find the work they thought was waiting for them and struggle to navigate their lives because of it."
"Writing Fragments Home" staged reading, 7 pm, Jan. 24, Lohman Theater, Foothill College, El Monte Rd., Los Altos, California. Free admission. Contact +1-650-949-7360.
"Dealing Dreams/" Feb. 12 to 28, Meese Auditorium, Southern Oregon University, Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland, Oregon. Contact Thanks for the Memories Theatre Company at +1-541-499-3288.
Contact Jeffrey Lo at JeffreyWritesAPlay.com.