Census and Censibility Program

An evening of AAPI Census stories and musings. Reserve your free seats here!

Director notes:
Census and Censibility is really a community project in every sense.  The idea of doing stories around the Census sprang from KL (Kent) Brisby who during the COVID lockdown joined the many enumerators enlisted to help count the people in our country, a noble and patriotic undertaking. As this count informs our communities of how we are growing, what our needs are, it also determines how we are represented and how funds for schools and services will be distributed. 

This is also the time when the United AAPI Artists, a group of locally based Asian creatives first met each other online on Zoom!  Some will remember the horror and shock as Asian Americans were being targeted for hate crimes around the nation, spurred on by a politically motivated agenda to scapegoat a group of people for the virus, which had shut the nation down.  The Old Globe Theatre following their Social Justice Roadmap decided they might help initiate some action by funding two local artists, Thelma Virata de Castro and Tara Ricasa to round up other AAPI artists and start a coalition.  So that’s how many of us working on this project first met each other–online on Zoom.  

Since then, we’ve been looking for a project that might bring the United AAPI Artists together to collaborate on a project.  We were so happy when the Conrad Prebys Foundation called Kent to let us know that they would fund an Asian Story Theater initiative to collaborate with Teatro Máscara Mágica and San Diego Black Ensemble on bringing stories about the census and our communities to the stage.  

Census and Censibility is the first part of the project underway, a showcase of the AAPI talent we have in this community.  It has been wonderful getting to know these writers and artists who have been meeting weekly to share ideas and stories.  We’ve all learned more about the importance of the census, how it affects our communities, and more importantly how much we need each other.    

We also are so grateful to the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture’s IMPACT,  our Library system –the Malcolm X Library, the Southeastern Live Well Center (both built through census information), and Diversionary Theater who after the pandemic opened their stage offering United AAPI Artists and the FilAm Film Collective a regular “Playspace” in their theater to promote community collaboration and creativity.

It’s a beautiful thing to be supported. -Gingerlily Lowe, Project Director

Census and Censibility
Directed by
Gingerlily Lowe

Stage Manager:
Melanie Taing

Choreographer for Census Softshoe:
Teresa Adams

Project Assistant:
Kalí Kamaria

Rehearsal Assistant:
April Aborrondo

The Plays:

Buddy and Beau Check the Boxes
Written and Co-Directed by Sasha Foo
While the question “What are you?” is often lobbed at people of color, Buddy and Beauregard explore their origins through a very different lens.
Cast:
Beauregard – Winlove Soriano
Buddy – Kenny Ha

When It Counts
Written By Michaela Ceja 
Gabs is on a mission to let her community know that the census is coming – but finds herself in competition with other vendors for the attention of folks passing by.
Cast:
Jordan – Jill Liang
Mike – Kyros Shen
Gabs – Deyllagan Torres
Filipino Man – James Shelledy
Daughter – Kayli Dela Vega
Filipina Mom – Ayana Galace

The Candidate and the Census
Written By Roy Sekigahama
A presidential candidate is ramping up his anti-immigrant rhetoric when he is challenged by a Chinese-American student.
Cast:
Roger Simon – James Shelledy
Leslie Holden – Jill Liang
Thomas Chang – Kenny Ha

Glazed, But Make it Asian   
Written and Co-Directed by Melanie Taing & Lillian Lin
A donut kid and her best friend clash with their survivalist mother.
Cast: 
Jennifer – Deyllagan Torres
Kimmy – Kayli Dela Vega
Mom – Gingerlily Lowe

A Piece of the Pi
Written By Hortense Gerardo
A Filipino World War II veteran talks with his granddaughter about his ambivalence over collecting benefits from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Cast:
Pacifica- Ayana Galace
Lolo – James Shelledy

The Last Day of School
Written by Sasha Foo
Amid some uncomfortable truths about the future of America, a second grade teacher readies her students for the adventure of a lifetime.
Cast:
Mrs. Chan – Sasha Foo

The Interpreter
Written by Gingerlily Lowe
Betty in her 60s, looks back at her first census experience, and reflects on the significance of being counted now.
Cast:
Betty the Kid – Kayli Dela Vega
Adult Betty – Deyllagan Torres
Mom – Jill Liang
Hoover Man – James Shelledy
Encyclopedia Man – Winlove Soriano
Mr. White – Kyros Shen

Blended 
Written By Alicia DeLeon Torres
A remarried couple with 11 children faces challenges when the deceased grandmother insists on providing input on their census count.
Cast:
Rosalie – Dey llagan Torres
Karlo – Winlove Soriano
Lola Ligaya – Kayli Dela Vega
Haunani – Jill Liang
K – Kyros Shen
Hideo- Kenny
Noelani, Maria Rosaria, Mina, Melisenda – Ayana
Noeli, Bob, Milagro, Michael, Matthew- James Shelledy

The Census Softshoe
Written by Gingerlily Lowe, Choreography by Teresa Adams
Counters and the counted sing and softshoe over time.
Cast:
Narrator: Sasha Foo
Enumerator 1910 – Kyros Shen
The Chinese Bachelors – Kenny Ha, James Shelledy
Enumerator 1970 – Kaylie Dela Vega
The New Feminists – Deyllagan Torres
Enumerator 2020 – Winlove Soriano
COVID Survivor – Ayana Galace

Census and Censibility Actors :

Kayli DelaVega Kayli is a Filipina American actor from San Diego and a recent graduate from UC Irvine with a degree in Theatre. Whether on film or on stage, she loves telling stories. Her recent credits include Motions & Emotions: Asian Women Speak Out, Unauthorized Aid (Playwrights Project), & Much Ado (UCI).

Dey Fernandez Dey is a Filipino artist with an MA in Theatre Arts from SDSU. She has several theatre, television, and film credits in the Philippines (2003-2022). Dey has performed in SDSU’s Bloodletting, Blindspot Collective’s Kagitingan and iykyk, Bocón Art’s Hip Hop It Don’t Stop, and Maraya Performing Arts’ Bayanihan 4.0.

Sasha Foo Sasha is an actor, playwright, voice actor, podcast host and veteran broadcast journalist. She was most recently seen in the play, “Every Day Vanilla,” a coming of age story about a queer Filipina which was performed at Moxie Theatre. In writing for the theater, Sasha created “Choice Words,” a collection of original monologues about reproductive rights that was performed at the 2023 San Diego International Fringe Festival. At a time when few Asians were visible in the news media, Sasha was the first Asian American anchor at CNN. Website: sashafoo.com

Ayana Galace Ayana is a Filipina American writer and performer whose work centers on advancing diverse, accurate, and equitable representation for BIPOC and historically underserved communities. She’s completed creative fellowships with The National Women’s Theatre Festival and The Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She looks forward to being counted in 2030!

Kenny Ha Kenny is a Vietnamese-Chinese actor from San Diego. He’s been out of the acting game since COVID happened and this is his first gig coming back after a long break.

Jill Liang Jill is an Asian American actor from San Francisco. Select stage and film credits include Comedy of Errors (UCSD), Women in Rubber (Company 157), and For What It’s Worth (TTV). She is excited to speak Cantonese on stage!

Gingerlily Lowe Gingerlily has been performing with ASIAN STORY THEATER for many years–most recently in Asian Scary Theater, The Coffee Plays, and The Golden Rule; with SD PLAYWRIGHT’S PROJECT Plays by Young Writers Festival, and Everyday Vanilla at Moxie Theater. She was a founding member of San Diego’s first Asian American theater company-PACIFIC ASIAN ACTORS’ ENSEMBLE @ MARQUIS GALLERY THEATER; and The MAGIC MACHINE @OLD TOWN THEATER. 

James Shelledy James is excited to work again with Asian Story Theater. He had worked with them on Halo Halo and Foo Dog Fu. James has studied the Meisner, Chekhov and Adler techniques and has several credits in theater and film. He is also a playwright and screenwriter.

Kyros Shen Kyros is a PhD candidate in Psychology and classically trained in theater at UCSD. A trilingual actor and singer, his notable credits include Ram Sweeney in Heathers: The Musical and Doug in Gruesome Playground Injuries. Kyros has lent his voice to various video games, commercials and projects, and is currently an active voice actor in Japan.

Winlove Soriano

The Writers:

THE WRITERSTITLE OF PLAYABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alicia DeLeon-Torres
Alicia DeLeon-Torres
BLENDEDAlicia DeLeon-Torres has spent most of her career in human services and social justice. Her most recent experience focused on state-sanctioned torture survivors from over 91 countries. She has also worked with Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities in the areas of hate crimes, gang prevention/intervention, suicide prevention/intervention, and problem gambling.DeLeon-Torres serves on the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Community Advisory Board, and San Diego Filipino Cinema Board of Directors. She has served on the Honorary Philippine Consul Advisory Board, California State Attorney General’s Civil Rights Commission on Hate Crimes, State of California Problem Gambling Task Force, City of San Diego Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention, and San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Art Advisory Board.In-between the craziness, she continues to nurture her first loves – creative writing, and freelance journalism.DeLeon-Torres is the Deputy Director at the Alexander and Eva Nemeth Foundation. 
Sasha Foo
Sasha Foo
BUDDY AND BEAU CHECK THE BOXES

and


THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL
Sasha Foo is an actor, playwright, voice actor, podcast host and veteran broadcast journalist. She was most recently seen in the play, “Every Day Vanilla,” a coming of age story about a queer Filipina which was performed at Moxie Theatre. In writing for the theater, Sasha created “Choice Words,” a collection of original monologues about reproductive rights that was performed at the 2023 San Diego International Fringe Festival. She is a regular host for the podcast “Asian Pacific Voices,” and serves on the media advisory board for Asian Culture and Media Alliance, a San Diego non-profit that promotes the interests of AAPI communities through the media arts. She is also a proud member of AJUMMA EXP, a flash mob dance group composed of mostly middle aged Asian women.  As a journalist, Sasha has won numerous Emmys for her television news reporting and writing. At a time when few Asians were visible in the news media, Sasha was the first Asian American anchor at CNN. Website: sashafoo.com
Hortense Gerardo 

Hortense Gerardo
A PIECE OF THE PIEHortense Gerardo is a playwright, anthropologist and Director of the Anthropology, Performance, and Technology (APT) Program at the University of California, San Diego. Her works have been performed nationally and internationally, including: the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston, Nuit Blanche Festival, Toronto, the New Americans Museum, Umbrella Stage, and the Without Walls Festival by La Jolla Playhouse. She is Co-founder of the Asian American Playwright Collective (AAPC), heads the Screenwriting competition on the Board of the Woods Hole Film Festival and teaches in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Program at the Jacobs School of Engineering. For more: www.hortensegerardo.com
Lillian Lin
Lillian Lin
(co-writer) GLAZED, BUT MAKE IT ASIANLillian Lin (she/they)  is a Taiwanese-American creator now living in San Diego. She is an experience designer, cultivated from a background in architecture, film, software design, event design, and acroyoga, a practice of trust and collaboration. Lillian is an artist in movement, visual and physical texture, and multi-sensory media. They moved to California to find an active AAPI community and are thrilled to have found it in San Diego, where they seek to contribute to the collective Asian American narrative. She now leads AAPI community affinity spaces through United AAPI Artists’ Playspace and is an advocate for Asian American mental health.
Gingerlily Lowe
Gingerlily Lowe
THE INTERPRETER



and

CENSUS SOFTSHOE
Gingerlily Lowe– (Actor, Director, Writer, Songwriter, Teaching Artist)   Founding member:  ASIAN STORY THEATER;  San Diego’s first Asian American Theater company- PACIFIC ASIAN ACTORS’ ENSEMBLE @ MARQUIS GALLERY THEATER; the MAGIC MACHINE @OLD TOWN THEATER.  She is proud of producing multi-ethnic theater over many years, celebrating Asian American art and culture, bringing new faces, voices and stories to the community.  A teaching artist with Guitars in the Classroom, Arts for Young Audiences, Institute for Arts Education, Education Director for ASIAN STORY THEATER, Gingerlily is a retired classroom teacher from San Ysidro School District, Museum School Charter, and San Diego Unified. Gingerlily participated in OLD GLOBE’s Powers New Voices Festival, 2023. She co-directed and contributed songs for AST’s musical “NOT WORKING”2022, performed with ASIAN STORY THEATER at SAN DIEGO INTERNATIONAL FRINGE FESTIVAL “THE GOLDEN RULE”2022, “COFFEE PLAYS”2023, ”ASIAN SCARY THEATER”2024, SAN DIEGO PLAYWRIGHTS “PROJECT”2023, “EVERYDAY VANILLA”2023Asian Story Theater http://AsianStoryTheater.org/Gingerlily@asianstorytheater.org
Roy Sekigahama
Roy Sekigahama
THE CANDIDATE AND THE CENSUSRoy Sekigahama first full-length play, Desert Rock Garden was produced at New Village Arts in 2022, winning grants from the California Civil Liberties Program and the National Endowment for the Arts. The production was nominated for four Craig Noel Awards including Outstanding New Production and winning for Best Director. His second full-length play, The Ghosts from the Pali was read at New Village Arts’ Final Draft New Play Festival in 2020. Several of Roy’s short plays (Not Crazy Rich or Asian; Kabuki Theater in Texas; The Purple Swastika; Bullets and Bagels, My Son’s Red Dress, The Garden of Eden Retirement Home, etc.) were winners in various contests. Roy was a 2024 Dramatists Guild Foundation National Fellowship Finalist. He is a member of the Dramatist Guild and sits on the Board of Directors of Playwrights Project and Roustabouts Theatre. Roy is a graduate of UC Berkeley (AB) and Yale University (MBA).
Michaela Subido Ceja
Michaela Subido Ceja
WHEN IT COUNTSMichaela (Subido) Ceja (she/her) is a Filipino-American playwright, born in Baltimore and raised in National City, CA. She wrote and helped direct Recipe for Revolution, Hyphenated, and Almost Home for Pilipino Cultural Night during her time at UC Santa Barbara. After university, Michaela became part of the MaArte Theatre Collective and wrote Mind the Generation Gap, which was produced in their Myths Unspoken: Summer Annual New Play Festival in 2019. More recently, her play To Tessa, From Dad was featured in the Powers New Voices Festival 2023 at the Old Globe. In her work, Michaela is most interested in exploring the complexity of family dynamics and relationships, vacillating between the traditions we carry from our ancestors and the new legacies we leave. 
Melanie Taing
Melanie Taing
(Co-writer)
GLAZED BUT MAKE IT ASIAN
Melanie Taing (she/her) is the daughter of Cambodian genocide survivors, the event from which most of her stories are inspired. Some of these include plays: “Lost in Translation,” “Apsongha,” “Between the Seams,” and “When the Sun Dies,” all of which were either fully or partially developed with the Old Globe. A UCLA alum and graduate of the SDSU MFA in Creative Writing program, her current manuscript revolves around a young girl who strives to make sense of her grief after she loses her brother to suicide and takes a job caring for a writer with dementia. Aside from writing, she runs an Etsy-based business making pet bandanas and circle skirts, loves singing, and spending quality time with her favorite boys: her partner Jeremy, and her dog, Oliver. Her ultimate dream is to open a cafe/community cultural center in City Heights that would combine her passion for wellness, plants, music, art, and tea!