The Romance of Magno Rubio

Posted by Lia Chang

Jojo Gonzalez, Arthur Acua, Bernardo Bernardo, Paolo Montalban and Ramon de Ocampo star in Lonnie Carter's The Romance of Magno Rubio , the Ma-Yi Theater Company's OBIE Award-winning Off Broadway production based on a short-story by the McCarthy-era blacklisted novelist Carlos Bulosan.

The men of MAGNO RUBIO are back for a limited Off-Broadway run through June 17th.

I had the good fortune of experiencing the magic of Lonnie Carter's THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO , based on a short-story by the McCarthy-era blacklisted novelist Carlos Bulosan when it was presented by the Ma-Yi Theater Company in 2002. The theatrical experience for me was a lyrical feast for the soul, and Ma-Yi racked up 8 OBIE Awards for the creators, original cast and director Loy Arcenas in 2003. Since then, the show has delighted audiences in Chicago (Jeff Award Best Play nomination), New Haven, Laguna Beach (OC Award Best Play and Best Ensemble nominations), and Manila (ALIW Award winner for Best Play).

Jojo Gonzalez, Arthur Acua, Bernardo Bernardo, Paolo Montalban and Ramon de Ocampo star in this Off Broadway production of THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO, directed by Loy Arcenas. Previews begin May 19, prior to an official press opening May 27 at The Culture Project (55 Mercer Street) in Manhattan.

THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO is a rite of passage for Filipino Americans and a relevant account of the migrant farm worker's immigrant experience in the present day. Set in the central valleys of California in the 1930's, the play focuses on Magno Rubio, an illiterate Filipino farm worker and his pen-pal courtship with Clarabelle, a white woman from Arkansas who advertises in the back pages of a "lonely hearts" magazine. Believing he has found the woman of his dreams, the young man fantasizes about their life together, only to soon realize that reality and dreams do not always align.

THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO has set design by Loy Arcenas; lighting design by James Vermeulen; original music and sound design by Fabian Obispo; costume design by Clint Ramos; and movement by Kristin Jackson.

Performances of THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO run May 19-June 17 at The Culture Project-SoHo (55 Mercer Street), Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8pm; Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm, with the following exception: Opening Night, Sunday, May 27 at 5pm. Tickets are $40 during previews; $50 after May 27; students $25/$30; seniors $38/$46. Group discounts are available. For tickets, call TheaterMania.com at 212-352-3101 or online at www.ma-yitheatre.org. For more information, visit www.ma-yitheatre.org.

Ma-Yi's production of THE ROMANCE OF MAGNO RUBIO is part of the first National Asian American Theater Festival (NAATF), which brings together 25 Asian American performing arts companies and solo artists to New York for two-weeks of performances throughout New York City from June 11 to 24.

Lonnie Carter's selected works include THE GULLIVER PLAYS: LEMUEL, GULLIVER & GULLIVER REDUX; CHINA CALLS; THE SOVEREIGN STATE OF BOOGEDY BOOGEDY; BABY GLO; WHEATLEY; and IS SHE IZZY OR IZ HE AIN'TZY OR IZ THEY BOTH.

Carlos Bulosan (1911-1956) was one of the most influential of Asian American writers of his time. A Filipino immigrant, he worked in the fish canneries of Alaska and on farms in Washington and California. He eventually became an activist in the labor movement. The horrendous working conditions of Filipino laborers were fictionalized in his best-known work "America Is in the Heart" (1946). President Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned Bulosan to write the essay "Four Freedoms" in 1945. Because of his radical activism, Bulosan was blacklisted by Senator Joseph McCarthy during the anti-Communist movement of the 1950s. His books include "Poetry from America," "Chorus from America," "The Voice of Bataan," "The Cry and the Dedication," and "The Sound of Falling Light."

National Asian American Theater Festival (NAATF)