The English-language world premiere of playwright Rody Vera’s Mga Gerilya sa Powell Street (The Guerrillas of Powell Street) opens July 12 (through August 2) at Bindlestiff Studio. Based on the award-winning novel of the same title by former San Francisco Chronicle reporter Benjamin Pimentel, the play dramatizes the lives of a group of elderly Filipino World War II veterans as they wait for the full military benefits promised to them for fighting alongside US troops. The veterans pass the time near the Powell Street cable car station, reminiscing about women they’ve loved, family members they’ve left behind in the Philippines, and memories of war. As real-life fixtures in SoMa’s large Filipino-American community, the men upon whom the novel is based have gradually passed away before receiving full recognition for their service. This production is a tribute to their bravery in the face of war and tenacity in the face of indifference, and Bindlestiff Studio, located in the heart of 6th Street, is tremendously honored to stage this long-awaited production.
The Guerrillas of Powell Street
July 12 -August 2
Friday-Saturday @8pm, Sunday @ 3pm with a post-show talkback with author Benjamin Pimentel and members of the creative
Support the Artist: $20
Purchase tickets online: http://guerrillas.bpt.me/
185 6th St @ Howard, San Francisco, CA 94103
For tickets and more information, call 415-255-0440 or go online http://guerrillas.bpt.me/
Author, Benjamin Pimentel:
My main hope is for the stories of these old men, many of whom have passed on, not to fade away and be forgotten. I hope that we continue to honor what they did: they fought a war in the 1940s as young men defending their homeland. Fifty years later, they took on another mission by coming to America as old men for the sake of their families. This is an important chapter in the Filipino American story, sad, tragic but inspiring…It’s great to see the story of the beteranos come home, to see it retold in the SoMa and at Bindlestiff, which has played such an important role in our community.
Director, Pablo Bautista:
In the early 2000s, my mom introduced me to several Filipino WWII veterans and their wives. I had just finished film school and was looking for work and I thought why not try to make a documentary to tell their stories. I interviewed several of them who lived in SOMA; I even tagged along to a casino with them on a bus. Unfortunately, due to lack of resources, I wasn’t able to complete the documentary. A decade later, we at Bindlestiff now have a chance to tell their stories to our community and beyond.
As an immigrant, I could relate to their experience of displacement, of a sense of homelessness, of a sense neither belonging in the US nor in the Philippines. And coincidentally, I found that the play really captured the struggles of being in-between worlds. And as an American, I noticed other issues emerging from the plight of our Filipino veterans: gentrification of SOMA, isolation among seniors, health issues affecting our veterans and US government’s treatment of them.
I am extremely excited to be part of this production. This is actually the world premier of the English version of the play. It is fitting that we will mount the play in SOMA, where most of the veterans used to live. Our stories come full circle, never to be forgotten, as long as we continue to tell them.
Producer, Lorna Velasco:
Walking up Powell Street Bart, coming home from school I would see these extraordinary men – who were called upon twice in their lifetime to sacrifice for the sake of their country and family, first as young, battle-worn men during World War II, and the second, as unassuming migrants in the twilight of their years – populate the station with their bravado and laughter, playing chess and swapping stories. But this is a very American tale, one we tend to forget as part of America’s history. It’s about time to finally tell the stories of their resilience and tenacity on the stage of Bindlestiff. It would be a disservice not to.