Showing now from April the 13th to the 25th at the Rumpus Theatre (and a live stream available on the 24th), Ezra Juanta presents his one-man one-hour show about the middle space between two cultures - Filipino and Australian.
He explores, comically and lyrically, the push and pull of being born biologically into one culture but growing up in another. The show tells the story of Joseph 'Joppy' Galura, an up and coming boxing star who just can't seem to work out where he fits and how to label his identity. In Australia, people's first guess is that he is Filipino even though he has never been, but when he finally gets the chance to go as a boxing competitor and meet his relatives, he is told he has an accent. So it begs the next question then, how Filipino is he?
Juanta is a lover of good music himself, and so weaves song into his storytelling, using it to direct the audience. He sings as Joppy as well as the single mother who raised him, using the lyrics to evoke different feelings for those watching. There are moments to laugh at his comedic display of a young Filipino boy attending after-hours Filipino school and learning a traditional dance, and when he draws on an unsuspecting member of the audience to spar with him in the boxing ring.
We are also offered a raw look at the heartache of trying to matter somewhere when your somewhere is more than one place. Juanta draws on personal experience and elements of his own struggle with identity to give his audience a taste of what it's like to want to fit in when you don't truly know how.
The use of space and prop is unique, the whole show being presented from within a boxing ring. Audience members choose a seat one of the four sides and he picks his props from each corner, while his karaoke mic drops from above (bring a mask or be prepared to wear one provided though as covid restrictions are still in place for live theatre).
The result is a fun, lively way to immerse yourself for just a little while in another culture, pick up a few words in Tagalog (the tables are turned here as the Tagalog parts are not translated) and laugh with your mates at a pair of those ridiculous Aussie flag flipflops.