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New play looks at coming-of-age from a queer, Filipino American perspective

 December 14, 2023 at 1:13 PM PST

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. Today we are talking about the arts and culture shaping San Diego. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired , and make you think. A new coming of age play through a Philippine-American lens.

S2: That short story had the same name , and it was all about coming home from college and feeling disconnected from not just your family , but your hometown.

S1: Plus , Beth Accomando tells us about Slow Horses , a new TV series about British spies , then Scrabble with hip hop wordsmiths and more , and Julia Dixon Evans weekend preview that's ahead on Midday Edition. A queer coming of age play every Day. Vanilla is set to premiere tonight at Moxie Theater. It follows 17 year old Filipina American Frankie Robles , an aspiring writer with dreams of leaving southeast San Diego. The play takes us over the next ten years of her life as Frankie navigates love , family and friendship and re-examines her relationship with her hometown. Every Day Vanilla is a self-produced play written by San Diego playwright Lonny Bellezza and directed by Earl Paulus. Lani joins me now. Welcome , Lani. Hi.

S2: Hi. Thank you so much for having me. Glad you're. Here.

S1: Here. And , Earl , welcome to you too.

S3: Thank you so much. Glad to be here.

S1: Glad to have you both. So I'd love to start with the inspiration behind the play. Lonny , you wrote a short story that set the wheels in motion for everyday vanilla , right ? Yes.

S2: That's right , I had a short story published in 2015 , in a local anthology called Sunshine Noir two , and you could still find it. And that short story had the same name , and it was all about coming home from college and feeling disconnected from not just your family , but your hometown , and kind of like exploring that lens through a young woman's perspective , a young Filipino woman's perspective.


S2: I personally grew up with theater. I was a very introverted child and my mother was a single mother. So she introduced me through performing arts , through our church , and then at school. I think honestly , to give me something to do , but it also kind of helped me explore ways to communicate. And I began to really love doing that. And I think I , I think it did help me open up a little bit more. And so it's always just been this part of my life. But after college , I took more of a writing route , kind of getting back to the internal self. And a few years ago I revisited theater and just acting in general as a favor to a friend. And then I came back to this story , and I , one of my mentors , when they read the short story , she said that she really saw it unfolding in a more dynamic way off the pages and really challenged me to explore that. And at the time , I was like that , you know , that sounds like a great idea , but I didn't , you know , I don't I didn't think I had the capacity to do that , but it always stuck with me. So last year I got with my writing group. I started a writing group a few years ago and started writing just for fun. And I really enjoyed connecting , writing and theater , which I hadn't done outside of an academic space. And the result of that was this play based on the short story. So I think it came about very organically , fortunately. Yeah.

S4: Yeah.

S1: And so growing up , not being able to relate to many characters in the stories you were reading that shaped your writing and the way you presented Frankie story.

S2: I think outside of this project , I write a lot of fiction. And so for this project , I really had to tap into real life events , things that happened. And , you know , frankly , things that I've avoided exploring fully. And that was a very difficult process. But I think it was I think it was crucial to telling Frankie's story , this character's story , in a way that felt honest and it didn't feel filtered , or I didn't want it to feel filtered at all. And the way that I've learned to approach things is just to , you know , write what I know. And I wouldn't say that it's 100% autobiographical , but I think if you see the play , something to know is that everything you see has happened either to myself or someone close to me , and was , of course , used with permission.

S1: All right , Earl , this is actually your directorial stage debut , and you're an actor yourself and were very active in theater up in the Bay area.

S3: When I moved back to San Diego , I reconnected with Lonny at a scene workshop that was held at Paramount , and that was when we started to connect more creatively. And then even now , you know , recognizing. How much similarities we had growing up , going to O'Farrell as well as Morse High School here and being into theatre , um , and then going to college for theatre , all of that. Right. Laid into the reconnection with Lonnie in the past few years. And this particular story when , when Lonnie presented it to me as a short story first and then as a play , I already really connected to the coming of age energy in this story. I love anything coming of age and that liminal space of of a process of somebody growing up that has always interested me. Yeah.

S4: Yeah.

S1: And you just mentioned , you know , Southeast San Diego is home for both you and Lonnie.

S3: I , I really relate to San Diego having been vanilla. I graduated high school in 2007 , so within that early 2000 bracket , I did feel San Diego was too vanilla for me. I was very much an outcast , very much a strange kid , very like punk rock , goth , alternative type of kid growing up. And so I didn't feel a place here in San Diego. So I can relate to that , to especially being in the Filipino community. That was also something that's very unique to this play as well. Yeah.

S4: Yeah.

S1: And like you said , you know , you felt a very punk and alternative vibe , which is clear in the play. So could you talk more about the period that the play is set in or where it starts ? Yes.

S3: And from 2006 to 2015 , I believe , and at that time is at least for for the high schoolers here in in San Diego , there was very much this phase of emo pop punk , and everybody was in bands and everybody was doing music , and that was just such a way for us to build community and to stay connected and not get into too much trouble , you know , um , and I think that we really start the play in that , in that kind of energy. And then we start to definitely go into this post-grad life , which I feel like is the kind of it's the kind of thing that college students go through , regardless of what year , um , or decade we're in. It's very much the same of this existential crisis coming back home , losing your , like , identity , and then navigating how to find your feet again as an adult. Yeah.

S4: Yeah.

S1: And Lani , Filipino-American dynamics are also a big focus of this play. We see the complicated but loving relationship between mother and daughter , older sisters and younger sisters.

S2: I wrote and rewrote and edited many times the script before bringing it to my family. I think they were the most intimidating group to bring it to , because I think they are some of the harshest critics I know. But I knew that , and I wanted to come to them with an open mind. And I would say that that that really helped with the incorporating some of the family dynamics into the play. So as I was editing , I was , uh , taking feedback live. I kind of incorporated some of the things that my family said while giving feedback to the play into the play. So just to kind of recap , it was it was very emotional and it was very collaborative. And I hope and I , I feel personally that it's brought me closer to my mother. I've learned a lot about her. You know , she directly inspires the character of Francesca , who's Frankie's mother. My name , my full name is Leilani. My mom named me after her. Her name is Lila. So they're just little things like that that I was really delighted to incorporate. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. Frankie is also the oldest daughter in an immigrant family , and that comes with a lot of family and sisterly duties that she really wants to break away from. Can you tell me more about that ? Yes.

S2: This is I feel like not enough people talk about being , you know , an older sister or even an older sibling in not just a Filipino American family , but I. Thinking. Even in Asian American family , I can speak directly to my own experience and kind of what inspired , you know , the dynamics in the play. I am personally a middle child , so Frankie and I haven't mentioned this to many people , is actually based on my older brother who , as I mentioned , my mom is a single mother , so he took on so much of the weight. I think emotionally and even financially , growing up to take care of not just me and my brother , but to make sure that my mom was okay. And I've learned , you know , as a young adult , that that was really common for a lot of older siblings , not just the oldest , but , you know , middle children as well , where they're they're taking care of their families. And it's kind of this unsaid thing. It's not an ask. It's almost an expectation. You know , if there is a need in the family , you just fill it. But it could be things as like , you know , setting up the family bills , you know , automating that. Or it could be just like , you know , being there emotionally in ways that , you know , maybe my mother couldn't. And yeah , there's just a lot of , I think , challenges that older siblings and older sisters , I have a lot of friends who are older sisters in the Filipino community. They just bear a lot of that weight. And it's it's so beautiful. And it's also very sad in a way. I think it's it's sad because we don't talk about it enough. And that's for me. I wanted to open up a dialogue through this piece. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. This play is also completely self-produced and presented separately from Moxie Theatre's programming.

S2: I met with different creatives in the community , you know , folks who have written plays , directed plays and , um , just theater lovers and kind of gathered all the information , um , process and I put together. I would hope that some of my entrepreneurial skills helped out , but I really think that this play came together through the advice of professionals in the industry. Even though it is self-produced. I feel like we had a lot of support from , um , people who have done this before many , many times. So I'm really grateful for that.

S1: Um , and most of the cast and crew is Filipino American. There aren't many stories about the Filipino American experience in mainstream media and on stage. So this question is for both of you. What does it mean to present this particular story on the stage with Filipino creatives at the helm.

S2: To be very honest , I feel a lot of pressure , but I need to let go of that. I think the pressure is I want to be able to represent everyone just because we don't get a lot of spotlight. But I also feel very I think I've said this before , I feel so privileged to be able to do this because it is a rare opportunity. You know , we didn't find it , we had to create it and we're still working through that. I , I wouldn't have changed anything about , you know , having self-produced and doing it this way. And I think I'm going to learn a lot for next , you know , future projects.

S1: And Earl , how about you ? Yeah.

S3: As you stated earlier , I did spend a lot of time in the Bay area and getting to know intimately the Filipino Bay area community. And it's so interesting because here in California , the diaspora of Filipinos is so unique. We have San Francisco , we have LA , we have San Diego. And I think this particular show , written by San Diego , born and raised Filipina , who's also queer , is a very unique story to Southern California Filipinos and then even more specific , Southeast San Diego Filipino experience. So I really am like honored to be a part of this , because it's a very specific type of experience that I haven't seen unfold on stage. So.

S1: I mean , and not only does this story have representation of the Filipino community , it's also a coming of age story.

S3: I mean , I feel like definitely the youth today and young adults are having very similar experiences always. Right. And particularly queer stories that are laced in a cultural. Land is also something that's that's very important to tell , because these nuances of how a mom talks to you or how or how you , you interact with your siblings are really heavily influenced by our culture as well. So it's a coming of age story that we could all relate to , but it's also a cultural story that you can share with people that are even outside of that culture and can still relate to it.

S1: I've been speaking with Lonnie Go Bellezza , playwright behind Everyday Vanilla , and director Earl Power's performances of Everyday Vanilla will begin at the Moxie Theater tonight and run through December 29th. You can get tickets at Everyday Lonnie and Earl , thank you so much for joining us.

S3: Thank you for having us.

S2: Thank you is absolute pleasure.

S1: Still ahead , Beth Accomando tells us about the new season of the Apple TV series Slow Horses.

S5: When I pay my money , I want my James Bond to drive around in an Aston Martin. I don't want to see him sitting on the toilet , but that's that's the thing with that's the thing with Mick , you know what I mean ? He's made them real people.

S1: Hear about the British spies and more when we return. Welcome back. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. McLaren Slow Horses is a series of darkly funny espionage novels. The books have been adapted by Apple TV+ , with the show recently kicking off its third season. It features Gary Oldman as Jack Lam , the head of a dysfunctional team of British intelligence agents known as the Slow Horses. Jack Lowden plays River Cartwright , one of the slow horses trying to prove himself. Kpbs arts reporter Beth Accomando spoke with the actors. But first , this teaser from season three.

S5: I make this.

S6: Quick ? I've got underlings to bully. I'm busy. No one's house is busy. Come on , get on with it.

S7: A team from MI5 has gone rogue and Standish has been taken.


S6: We're looking for ex-military.

S9: There will be a reckoning.

S7: You can wipe your slate clean. Okay.

S8: Okay. There's another game being played that will probably leave me worse off. I just can't see what this one is yet.

S10: First of all , this is your third season with these characters. So I'm just wondering , where do you feel that these characters have now come ? What where are they at at this point ? That's different from seasons one and two. And Gary , if you want to start. Lambe.

S5: Lambe.

S11: Is just.

S5: It's flat lined. I don't normally do these kind of speeches , but this feels like a big moment. I know it's not easy being banished from MI5 to my department , but that's on you. Only screw ups get sent to Slough House. And I've got to be honest , working with you has been the lowest point and a disappointing career. He's just on his frequency. He doesn't actually mean he reacts to the different scenarios that are presented , but there isn't. You know the die is set. Lamb is is um , I'm not knocking on the door or the scriptwriter saying I need some more character development. I'm like , I'm I'm set. So lamb is he's he hasn't changed very much and he isn't. And he isn't going to change. Um , I thought Jack , actually earlier you had an analogy which I thought was rather good.

S8: I was saying that I think the actors are you can feel us , particularly when we came back and did this third one is that we put the characters on and they feel like a jacket that's just sort of gradually getting more and more comfy. And I think Gary's right. Is that with Jack's and Lamb ? You know , I think that's always been the case. He's the most comfortable person in every room. Like , he he he really is the most comfortable. There doesn't seem a situation where he seems on the back foot or anxious. I love imagining that Jack's and Lamb has dealt with a lot of anxiety or anxiety inducing situations in his life , and that he's just sort of decided to sort of not care anymore. And it makes him operate a lot better than the rest of us who are still trying , still think there's promise that the dangling of the carrot of promise is still in front of all of us. And he's it's nowhere. The carrots. Miles. He didn't care. Like he's eating them all. You know what I mean ? He doesn't care anymore. That's what's quite wonderful. And that's what makes in not not in a negative way either. But whenever you you're in a scene with lamb , you kind of know that it's always going to end in a certain way , which is , is is a sort of roundabout way of going. Well , you figure it out because I really couldn't care less.


S8: I think , um , and that that that's one of the major reasons that I can't , I can't wait to make more of it , is because I think he is begrudgingly realising and beginning to realise that he is quite a brilliant man. Uh , lamb and the. I like my own personal admiration for people that that have hit a stage where they sort of really don't care , they don't sweat the small stuff. And you know that whole line when people say , you know , what other people think of you is none of your business. You know , Lamb's got that tattooed on his chest. There's a lot that someone like River who really cares what people think of him. He really cares. He is an egomaniac , insecure , nutter in many ways , and I think he's beginning to learn. You know , he really is beginning to learn from lamb , not about espionage , but just how to be a man , I think.

S5: Yeah , there's something to be said. You're not so earnest , you know , as you get older. Lamb has had a career and has quite rightly experienced the sharp end of it and is is just older , wiser , cynical , sadly. But that's the life that they're in and that's the world that , that , that they inhabit. But you do. I feel that as it just does , Gary. You know , I would sweat the small stuff when I was younger and with age , you , uh , you mellow in that respect. I still want the work to be good. I still I still care , but I , I don't have the same fire in the belly that I necessarily had when I was , you know , 27 , 25 , you know , um , at the beginning of a career , I don't maybe I subconsciously use it as in , in , in my makeup , my portrayal of lamb.

S10: There are eight books currently , at least in the Slow Horses series , as. Actors.

S5: Yeah , there's clues in the books there , but , um , I don't , I haven't read. The whole series yet ? No.

S8: I exactly the same. I'm reading them as I go. Yeah , there's something quite exciting about it. Kind of scary as well , but it's , uh. Yeah , I'm doing the same.

S10: And how do you think this season compares to the previous two ? Just in terms of tone and kind of where Mick Herron is taking the story and like with the addition of Shaun Donovan's character.

S5: This one involves one of our own. And also there's. That's a whistle blower , essentially. Who's going to expose some wrongdoing inside MI5 ? Um , which potentially could harm not only MI5 , but us , the the Slough House. So there's sort of a plot in a way , under , under foot to to move us to one side. Um , but we have someone in our own team that is in jeopardy , and that makes it , um , a Jack was saying earlier that that this one is more , I guess , more personal. Um , to to us.

S10: And Jack talk a little bit about how Cartwright's character or his relationship with his grandfather is changing in this one.

S8: Yeah , his his grandfather is beginning to show signs of getting old , so to speak. And so. The responsibility of that to to Cartwright is is really coming to the fore , which is just a magnificent thing to be able to play. It's a real gift to be sort of running around like a maniac trying , you know , shooting things and not being or not being shot by things. And then in the next minute , sort of taking care of , of an elderly relative , basically. Um , so that's been wonderful. And with Jonathan Pryce playing that role , it's twice as easy , of course. But I think he's what he's who he's always wanted to emulate. Um , and to see him begin show , show rough scenes in this season of of of of of of disintegrating , so to speak , for want of a better word , um , which is a painful thing for anybody. And , you know , a man that he's held up as his hero and can feel it sort of slipping away through his fingers is quite it's quite sad. So that's , that's the beginning of , of something there in this season of something that I don't know , could , could , could end up getting worse or not , I don't know , but , um. Yeah. That's where he is.

S10: And Gary , you've played spies in other movies , especially some John le Carré stories.

S5: There's a lot more humor in Mick's take on this world , but that's what he's done. He's taken a genre that we all sort of. That we all know. I mean , John le Carré took it to a level that was just , you know , but we're very used to man from Uncle James Bond. The Bourne Identity , Mission Impossible. You know , we've there's a slew of these these of , of the , the world of espionage and make us sort of turned it on its head and gives you characters that are like you , that are relatable. You know , in season one , we have Louisa in the launderette doing a laundry , and we have men who is separated from his wife and is , you know , trying to really connect , you know , make his one phone call a week to the kids. You don't you would never see Moneypenny in a launderette or James Bond in a kebab or even talking , you know , with flatulence. You know , I , James Bond doesn't fart. And not that we want him to I don't I want my James Bond when I pay my money , I want my James Bond to drive around in an Aston Martin. I don't want to see him sitting on the toilet. But that's that's the thing with. That's the thing we met. You know what I mean ? He he's made them real people in a way that we can , that we can relate to. And in fact , we spoke to a guy that was I think Jackie was in MI6. Is that right ? Yeah. And and I also spoke with le Carré when we were doing Tinker Tailor and he was a spy , and he , he , he , he , he would talk about how incredibly boring it was with moments of adrenaline. And I remember he said to me , I said , what was the thing ? He said , the thing. The most terrifying thing about being a spy was when he was in Berlin , or when he said , was your cover being blown ? He said. The thing you always worried about at night were the footsteps on the stairs. And you go. They got me , you know. He said , but it was mind numbingly boring. You know , big moments in between. And so it isn't jets and jetpacks and Aston Martins and , you know , speedboats and all of that. It's it's very dull at times , very dull. Work. And I think that that's that's what. That's the world. That's what makes it. I'd like to think also it's why it's it's been thus far as successful. I think people can really watch it and relate to it. Yeah.

S10: Well , our last interview ended after you brought up flatulence. So this is a good place to end this one as well. Thank you so much.

S5: Yes , thank you very much.

S1: That was Beth Accomando speaking with actors Gary Oldman and Jack Lowden. Slow horses is currently streaming on Apple TV+ and just started its third season. Coming up , the live music you can hear over the weekend in San Diego , plus Scrabble with local hip hop icons and a classic production of A Christmas Carol.

S12: For me , I feel like it's universal. It's not just a Christmas Story , it is about second chances , second opportunities and participating in your community.

S1: That's ahead on your weekend preview. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You never. Welcome back to Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. For our weekend preview , we have Scrooge , Scrabble , and more arts and culture events around town this weekend. Joining me with all the details is Kpbs Arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , welcome.

S13: Hey , Jade. Thanks for having me.

S1: Always glad to have you here. So let's start with A Christmas Carol. This is a story most of us probably have seen in movie or play form or even read the book. So tell us about this production.

S13: Yeah , this is at Cygnet Theater , and for about nine years now they've been doing a really nice , like , sound and music informed production of A Christmas Carol. It's actually an otherwise pretty traditional adaptation of the Dickens book. Cygnet is a theater in Old Town , and if you haven't been , it's it's a pretty great place to catch a show. The space is really intimate , but still feels like a full theater , so every seat kind of feels like you're right there up close. And I talked to Sean Murray , who is Signet's co-founder , and also for the last couple of years , he's played Scrooge , Ebenezer Scrooge , and he is a fantastic Scrooge. I mean , you could just be grumpy and pull it off , but Murray has really great timing. I think there's a lot of comedy in this performance and and also a lot of mystery , you know , from the get go that there's something kind of repressed in this character and that gives you a little hope.

S1: And you mentioned that you spoke with Sean Murray. You actually caught up with him this week between shows. Let's take a listen to that.

S13: So this is known as one of the world's greatest ghost stories. And which means you're now playing one of the world's most haunted characters , Ebenezer Scrooge. And he's also synonymous with grumpy and mean. Here's a little clip from Signet's production this year. What shall we.

S14: Put you down for ? Nothing.

S15: Oh.

S14: Always to Scrooge. Bless you. You wish to be anonymous.

S16: I wish to be left alone. Since you asked me what I wish. That is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas. I can't afford to make idle people merry. Oh , so my taxes support those establishments. I have mentioned those who are badly off must go down.

S14: Oh , but many , many would rather die.

S16: If they'd rather die , they'd better do it. Decrease the service.

S13: And there's also , of course , so much more to Scrooge than the bah humbug.

S12: People focus on his anti Christmas stands and his , um , you know , resistance to being included in society and culture. He really has isolated himself. And when we get to explore the different events in his life that helped shape that view , you learn that he's actually he's hiding a lot of pain in himself by putting up a very thick facade of of resisting. And and so the attitudes that he shows in that scene are I mean , unfortunately , I think they are not unusual even today where people feel like I've paid my taxes , I'm helping the poor. I really can't afford to do much more than that. I have to rely on the system to work and so leave me alone. So when he goes through this series kind of kicking and screaming at first , he's like , he makes he just has so much fun sort of giving these ghosts a lot of grief. But the ghost eventually break him down and show him three different , very important lessons. One is how Christmas and various experiences he had with Christmas really shaped his contemporary viewpoint , and he learns from that Christmas present experience and watching the ratchets that you don't need a lot of money. You don't need a lot of material things to still feel warm and connected with your community , and that there's strength in your community. And Scrooge realizes that he's not a part of that. So for me , there's this track of. I mean , all of us have a certain degree , perhaps of of those feelings and especially when times are tough. And I think everyone is rooting for Scrooge. And kind of the meaner he is , the more we're looking forward to any changes. So for me , I feel like it's universal. It's not just a Christmas story. It is about second chances , second opportunities and participating in your community.

S13: I love that , and I want to talk a little bit about your process of adapting this play for Cygnet Theatre , especially.

S12: It goes to some very dark places , and I think for it to also at simultaneously be sort of a Christmas celebration , you need to find a way to tell the story that draws the audience in and helps them become participants in in the telling of the story , the creating of the story. And so humor is a great way to disarm people. They get to enjoy some of the sort of crude things he says , Scrooge says. And there's a lot of humor in the book , too , and our adaptation is really , really strictly adhering to the book and the tone of the book. There's so many ways to interpret this book onto the stage or even onto film , that it really does open it up to interpretation. Not so much the story , but how to tell the story. And so I think I just feel like the inclusion of humor helps make it feel like a Christmas celebration and not just a moral story , but it is both of those things.

S13: I also wanted to ask about some of the other elements , like the special effects and the the puppets. These are all really integral to the Cygnet production.

S12: We adapted it as a 1940s radio telling. So we were standing in front of period microphones and and performing it as if we were doing , say , the Lionel Barrymore famous Lionel Barrymore radio version. And so all of the sound effects were done by a Foley artist on stage , like a radio old radio show would do. Um , when that idea evolved into removing the microphones and setting it in the 1840s and , and really fully staging it. There was something inherently fun about how those Foley effects enhanced the storytelling. I know that you can never put that book on stage fully , and you can never put it on film fully , that so much of what that book triggers in a , in a reader is in your imagination. You feel you fill out all the details and the the sounds and all. It's so rich. And so what ? Billy Thompson and I , we adapted it together. The thing that we felt was important was that the audience was given just enough tools to fill in all of those gaps in their imagination. So we don't want to show everything. We want to imply things so that the audience can fill in flying ghosts and chains and all the different special effects. So we do just enough special effects so that we engage the audience in filling in the other part of it. And that includes the children , the puppets. They all play the children in the show. And there's something inherently magical about a life sized puppet on stage that the way they actually take on full life. And so we just felt like the puppets can be so much more fun , a fun way of telling a story.

S13: There are countless stage adaptations and musicals , dozens and dozens of movies and cartoons. And these are these have all influenced your own career as well.

S12: We don't have all that time. Um , I think there's several reasons why there's something universal about watching someone given the opportunity to redeem themselves. I think that's important because I think people either know people who could or should take a look at their life and say , maybe I can change for the better , or even look within and say , there are aspects of my own life that I am shut off to. And , uh , how much more will I be able to engage in the world if I let go of those things that hold me back ? There's something very personal , I think , about Scrooge's story. We all want to see those people redeemed and brought back into society as happy , contributing people. And so that's why I think it lasts. I think that's what the enduring quality of that story is , is that you can relate to it , if not hope for it.

UU: It's just gonna feel that energy , feel the culture , all those people's coming , old people's. Oh , hell.

S1: And that was Sean Murray , co-founder and artistic director of Cygnet Theatre. Their production of A Christmas Carol will be on stage through December 30th. I'm here with Kpbs arts producer Julia Dixon Evans , and we're talking about art and culture events this weekend. So next up is a hip hop themed Scrabble night , which sounds really fun.

S13: He's going to be taking on rapper Mickey Vail and what they're calling a philanthropic Scrabble battle. So they want to start having these conversations with younger people in the hip hop community about philanthropy. So they're going to lead by example. They're going to put their own money on the line. And the winner of the Scrabble match donates the prize money to a local cause of their choice. There'll be hip hop performances from Rick Scales , Micki Vail herself , and DJ root , and also a photography exhibit on view. This is at the Mental bar , The Cafe in Encanto. It's going to be a really artistic and fun afternoon , and just watching two really great wordsmiths play Scrabble should be fun in and of itself. It's Sunday from 11 to 3 at the mental bar and it's all free. Wonderful.

S1: Wonderful. Also in San Isidro there is an international group show at the front Gallery.

S13: In this exhibit , there's augmented reality. They have bioluminescent bacteria lamps and then other installations that are all kind of this mesh of art with technology and science and imagining these possible futures. One of the works is a set of live camera feeds from these nature preserves all over the world. This is Margaret Noble's work , so you can see giraffes or alligators. And she also has a set of postcards. They're set up on this rack , like in a newsstand , that you can actually spin and pick , pick up and browse through. Those are called convenience atrocities. And the postcards kind of call out your own tiny climate shames. And it's on view through late January. And the gallery is open and free Tuesday through Saturday , 11 to 6. But there's also a virtual artist talk tonight at 6 p.m..

S1: All right. And finally , some music.

S13: A bunch of really great local acts on my radar are all playing at the same time at Soda Bar on Sunday. There's a band called Rust Boulevard. They're a great indie band. They're named after the actual street in San Diego. This is Los Primos from their new EP is just out this fall.

UU: You never. It's okay. You are hiding.

S13: And also playing a Cheyenne Benton. She was nominated for a San Diego Music Award earlier this year , and her album , Beautiful Chaos just came out this spring. It's a really great listen , kind of this sparkling indie pop sound , and I'll leave you with the title track , Beautiful Chaos Wave Goodbye.

S1: You can find details on these and more arts events , and sign up for Julia's weekly art newsletter at Kpbs , Mortgage Arts. I've been speaking with Kpbs Arts producer Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , thanks so much.

S13: Thank you. Jade.

S1: That's our show today. Don't forget to watch Evening Edition tonight at five for in-depth reporting on San Diego issues. The roundtable is here tomorrow at noon , and if you ever miss a show , you can find the Midday Edition podcast on all platforms. Before I go , I want to thank the Midday Edition team producers Giuliana Domingo , Andrew Bracken , Brooke Ruth , Ariana Clay and Laura McCaffrey , art segment contributors Beth Accomando and Julia Dixon Evans , technical producers Ben Redlener and Rebecca Chacon. Our theme music is provided by San Diego's own Surefire Soul Ensemble. I'm your host , Jade Hindman. Thanks for listening.

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The cast and crew of "Every Day Vanilla" are shown in this undated photo.
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The cast and crew of the play, "Every Day Vanilla" are shown in this undated photo.

A new play, “Every Day Vanilla,” navigates coming-of-age, queerness and post-grad existential crises from a Filipino American perspective. It follows seventeen year-old Frankie Robles, an aspiring writer with dreams of leaving Southeast San Diego. The story chronicles the next 10 years of her life, as Frankie re-examines her relationship with her hometown.

Plus, KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando sat down with actors Gary Oldman and Jack Lowden to talk about the third season of “Slow Horses,” which recently premiered on Apple TV+.

And finally, Cygnet Theater is back with its production of “A Christmas Carol.” KPBS/arts producer Julia Dixon Evans sat down with Cygnet’s co-founder, who also stars in the Scrooge role, and shares her other picks for weekend arts events.


  • Lani Gobaleza, playwright and actress in “Every Day Vanilla”
  • Earl Paus, director of “Every Day Vanilla”
  • Gary Oldman, actor
  • Jack Lowden, actor
  • Sean Murray, co-founder and artistic director of Cygnet Theatre