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SD Fringe Artist Highlight: Ciarlene Coleman, ‘Your Best American Girl’

Show from MaArte Theatre Collective looks to Fil-Am experience

MaArte Theatre Collective was founded to create space for the Filipino-American experience in the diverse and dynamic culture of San Diego. Its San Diego International Fringe show features Ciarlene Coleman in the one-woman show, "Your Best American Girl."

In 2018, six Pilipinx-American theater artists in San Diego felt a lack of Filipino representation in theater, music and other storytelling mediums. After forming a bond over the desire to see more of their own stories in the wider world, they realized that they couldn't wait for someone else to invite them to tell their story, they would have to do it themselves.

The MaArte Founders include co-artistic directors Ciarlene Coleman and Christine Nathanson, plus producers Reanne Acasio, Patrick Mayuyu, Shaun Tuazon and Claudette Santiago.

The term “Maarte,” translates literally from Tagalog as “artistic” or “creative.” But according to MaArte's website, "the word has become commonly used to instead to refer to a young woman as 'high-maintenance,' 'picky,' or 'pretentious.' In other words, 'maarte' means 'a diva.' We have chosen to reclaim and redefine this word. To us, it means bold. It means audacious. It means filled with the power of creativity. We are selective and we know exactly what we want — the fair and honest representation of the fullness of the Filipino-American experience — and we’re out to get it."

"'Your Best American Girl' is a one-woman show I wrote," Coleman said. "It includes a lot of my personal experiences... I talk about the media influences in my life like the movies I watched as a kid, TV shows, music, musicals, theater. How they influenced me figuring out my identity as a mixed-race American, and I found a lot actually through writing the show because I've always had an idea of how my favorite medium TV and stuff has influenced me but through writing the show I've come to understand how much specifically my favorite movies and TV shows have really shaped who I've become as a person and as a performer."

"Your Best American Girl" has shows Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park where you can also grab delicious food. Additional shows are June 13 at 6 p.m., June 15, at 7:30 p.m. and final show June 16 at 4 p.m.

The Fringe website now has a helpful program grid to help you map out the second half of the festival.

Check out all the video previews of shows on the KPBS Fringe page.

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