I ♥ the Stiff

Looks like I’ll be participating in Bindlestiff Studio’s Stories High Stage Readings this year! It’s a small part but I’m happy to do it. Stories High is a program that Bindlestiff Studio has every year where they hold writing workshops, acting workshops and directing workshops for new or seasoned students. After the workshops are over, the writers’ stories are handed to the directors, the directors get the actors, and they culminate into a show for all to see. This reading is a bit of a preview for people to hear the stories that might be produced for the show. It gives the writers a chance to hear their plays and to do any rewrites they wish if needed. Bindlestiff Studio (affectionately called The ‘Stiff) is the only permanent, community-based Filipino-American theater in the nation. The history of this theater is such a great story of love for theater.

Just to give you the gist of it, the theater was originally a space within a run-down hotel that the SF Redevelopment Agency (SFRA) decided to tear down and rebuild. That meant the theater had to go but there was no promise that they would get the space back after rebuilding. Protests in front of city hall began and the pro-Bindlestiff Studio heads fought to get the space back after the new building goes up. The SFRA said that Bindlestiff would have to raise around $100,000(?) to prove there was a need for the theater to exist. Really, how is a theater that charges people $10 – $15 to see a show going to raise that kind of money? Consequently, Bindlestiff got displaced and moved into a temporary space across the street in Natoma Alley, which was really the basement of an apartment building. That space was horrible; small, inconvenient, and the tenants always complained about our sound. After much dispute, public outcry, protests, negotitations and whatnot, Bindlestiff finally proved itself worthy and they got their home back. I can still remember circling the steps of City Hall, chanting & fighting for the theater. You can read about Bindlestiff here. There is a Groundbreaking Ceremony happening tomorrow night and I’m excited to go! I’ll be working as a volunteer at the pledge table.

I’ve been volunteering for this theater since 2005 and through them, I’ve been given the chance to act, direct, stage manage, do stand-up comedy, shadow puppetry, film, write, and music. Being a part of this world has changed my life for the better and I’m grateful to be able to give back.

Currently, there is an urgency campaign called the Adopt-A-Theater Capital Campaign and the goal is to raise $100,000 to cover the costs of lighting, sound equipment, seats, office equipment, etc. To get updates on Bindlestiff Studio you can find them on Facebook or Twitter.

See ya at the Stiff!

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