The world premiere of Alunsina’s Love brings to the forefront forgotten migration stories from Canada’s history. Written by award winning Filipino playwright and filmmaker Christopher Gozum, the show is presented by the University of Winnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film.
The first in-person audience production at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film since the winter of 2020, the show will run from Tuesday, November 29 to Saturday, December 3, 2022.
Commissioned by UWinnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film, Alunsina’s Love was inspired by Vanier Scholar and assistant professor Dr. Dennis Gupa, who is also the director of the play. Gozum and Gupa are longtime artistic collaborators who specialize in intercultural theatre work.
“We share a migrant experience, and we wanted a script that would bridge Western and Philippine culture,” explains Gupa. “It is also about introducing a new generation of theatre-makers to another culture of the world by working with those who are rooted in that culture, allowing for a deeper and informed understanding.”
Gupa’s intention is to create a theatrical project that connects institutions and communities through intercultural dialogues.
The result is a critical dialogue about respectfully bridging cultures that weaves together the Philippine creation story of Alunsina with the 1970s Winnipeg garment industries, where many Filipinas found work as sewers.
Led by Gupa’s vision, the cast of eight underwent a week-long process learning about Philippine mythology, migration, race and justice, and ancient tattooing from esteemed artists.
In addition, scholars from across disciplines and borders contributed to the process including Dr. Carlos Tatel Jr. of the University of the Philippines’ Department of Anthropology, PhD student Darlyne Bautista of the University of Toronto’s Department of History, Dr. Jenny Heijun Willis of The University of Winnipeg’s Department of English, well-known tattoo artist Mayo Landicho, and Filipino community members in Winnipeg.
“Infusing or translating our stories on stage is my ethical act of recentering our marginalized communities,” said Gupa. “This play is about our beauty and how we encounter the world through our stories.”
The ensemble cast, made up of students in the University’s Acting IV: Honours class, includes Woo Jun Lim and Isabella Lischka, who play Tungkung Langit and Alunsina respectively. Multiple production students support bringing the production to the stage.
Adam Parboosingh, Associate Professor of Design, has powerfully represented the two worlds in his scenography; recent graduate Kate George is costume designer; current 4th year production student Lovissa Wiens is projection designer; and Filipina Canadian Hazel Venzon, Winnipeg-based theatre actor and director, extends her expertise as a historical and cultural consultant.
Alunsina’s Love opens November 29th and runs through to December 3, with shows starting at 7:30 p.m. each evening at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended. For more information, please visit UWinnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film or call the 24-hour Reservation Line at 204.786.9152.