Photo © 2018 Joseph Legáspi
Photo by Noam Shapiro. Taken while in rehearsal for On This Side of the World, April 2019.
As a musical theatre writer, Paulo tells distinctly Filipino-American, Asian-American, and immigrant stories that explore universal human themes -- and in doing so, he proudly gives his community a voice on the American stage, while speaking to audiences of all backgrounds.
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In On This Side of the World, a woman flies from Manila to New York City with a one-way ticket and a suitcase full of stories collected from immigrants who came before her. Over the 17-hour flight, she shares these stories with fellow immigrants-to-be — and each story comes to life, with a cast of six actors performing over 40 roles, including young lovers, gossipy church ladies, millennial princesses, contract workers and undocumented immigrants. Through a lush, eclectic score that is both intimate and sweeping, On This Side of the World captures multiple snapshots of the immigrant experience, and shows us how stories bring us together and embolden us to face unknown futures.
On This Side of the World had its world premiere production at East West Players in Los Angeles, CA from May to June 2023. Leading up to this world premiere, the show had staged readings at East West Players and residencies at the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and Catwalk Art Institute in 2022; a reading at Musical Theatre West in Long Beach, CA in 2021; was featured in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival of New Musicals and had a sold-out concert staging presented by Prospect Theater Company in 2020; a staged reading and then a workshop production at Access Theater in 2019; and an artistic residency at Access Theater from 2018 to 2019.
Music, Lyrics & Book by Paulo K Tiról
Direction & Book by Noam Shapiro
In his memoir Dear America, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas recounts how his mother put him on a plane in Manila when he was 12, and sent to live in California with his grandparents. For the next four years, he learned to call America home -- until he learned, while applying for a drivers permit at the D.M.V. when he was 16, that his documents were fake. He spent the next 14 years lying, passing and hiding, as he built an incredible career as journalist, writing for the country's largest publications and even winning the Pulitzer Prize.
In 2011, he decided to come out as undocumented in an essay in the New York Times; and in 2016, amid the Trump administration's anti-immigration politics, he started writing his memoir. It begins, "I do not know where I will be when you read this..."
Jose Antonio Vargas granted Paulo K Tiról and director Noam Shapiro the permission to adapt Dear America into a musical in November 2021. Since then, the musical has received development support in the form of artistic residencies at Catwalk Art Institute in upstate NY (2022), Theatre Latté Da in Minneapolis, MN (2023), and the Drama League in New York City (2022 to 2023).
Noam Shapiro, Paulo K Tiról, Executive Director of FilAm Arts Giselle Tongi, and Jose Antonio Vargas at the closing performance of On This Side of the World at East West Players, June 2023.
The Philippines is the call center capital of the world, with over a million Filipino phone agents serving American customers — and pretending to be American! — every day.
Called tells of the story of one such agent: an ambitious overachiever named Carmela, who is five days away from attaining her long-time dream of being transferred to the United States. …That is, if she can deal with her obnoxious fellow agents, the reappearance of an old flame, and most of all, the elderly widower named Nelson calling from North Dakota who, upon realizing Carmela is Filipino, makes an unusual request: for her to be his friend.
Through this frame, Called explores the American dream, post-colonial imperialist thought, and the transactional nature of relationships in today’s world. of moving to the United States.
Paulo developed Called as one of 11 fellows in the 2019-20 class of the Dramatist Guild Foundation Fellows Program; and had a virtual reading in October 2020 (dir. May Adrales). Called was also partially developed through Musical Theatre Factory's 4X15 series in May 2018 (dir. Rebecca Aparicio).
Click here to download the virtual program that accompanied the virtual reading in October 2020.
"American Roulette", from Called, music and lyrics by Paulo K Tiról. Performed at Prospect Theater Company's REIGNITE, October 2021. Featuring Michael Protacio, Orville Mendoza, Kendyl Ito and Jaygee Macapugay.
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