Giovanni Ortega (AEA, SAG-AFTRA, SDC) has been working professionally for over a decade. He believes in creating an accepting and inclusive relationship with artists and communities alike regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and class.
This past summer, Giovanni teamed up with several organizations around the world to observe how the arts are used to inform different populations about how we can decimate discrimination and enhance acceptance. As a core member of Theatre Without Borders, they had the distinct opportunity to work with communities and artists from across the globe to engage, investigate and create stories that usually go untold but are relevant and important to share with everyone.
In the last three years, he has been traveling to Australia to work with theatre and community organziations. What started out as a resident scholar position in Playwriting Australia’s National Play Festival has expanded to an artist-in-residence opportunity with Philippine-Australian Arts, Culture and Innovation Central. They have continued to create gatherings for elders to share stories and oral histories to pass on to the next generation. Telling Kwentos (stories) is a common Philippine tradition that allows the younger generation to continuously find confidence and pride in their identity. The Kwentos presented were funny, powerful and heartbreaking. In fact, at the end of the program, the organizer, Michele Baltazar, spoke about the importance of sharing our stories and then broke down in tears when she said:
We, as Filipino-Australians never get to see our stories portrayed.
Last month, his creative research that commenced in 2016 with women of Singapore resumed to artistically investigate and explore further misconceptions of race, gender and bi- racial identity. Their work at the Haque Centre of Acting and Creativity (HCAC) is entitled The Body Series. The devised theatrical plays include Creation of My Body, Words of My Body and culminated in Thoughts of My Body. This phenomenal group of women (which now includes 3 men) created content that interrogates misogynistic perceptions, racial and the class division within the country, as well as the unspoken taboo of mental illness. This 10 day devised theatre workshop culminated in thought provoking presentations held at HCAC in Singapore. In addition, the National Poetry Festival Singapore commissioned Ranice Tay, a Sinagporean artist and Giovanni to write and perform a piece with this year’s theme of ‘In Spirit.’ Benches is a coming-of-age, two-person poetic play on love, loss, and what it means for some stories to stay with us forever.
While working on these two new projects, Center Theatre Groups and Artists at Play in Los Angeles presented an updated version of ALLOS, The Story of Carlos Bulosan. Performed in several libraries in East Los Angeles, the story follows a Filipino migrant farmer, union organizer and writer who was navigating the United States during the Great Depression all the way through the Second World War. ALLOS has been performed nationally and globally since he was commissioned to write it in 2012.
In 2016, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell presented a Proclamation from the City of Los Angeles for his work as an artist and a community organizer; and the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County honored him during their Eighth Annual Secrets of Success event. As a speaker, he was the closing keynote speaker for the Consortium on Higher Achievement and Success Black and Latino Male Conference where he presented Burdens and Shields: An Interactive Transformative Workshop on Male Role Models. He has performed and spoken at over 300 organizations, universities and prisons in North America with various one-person shows including Playfair, a program that incorporates Motivational Speaking, Diversity Engagement and Improvisation. He is currently an Assistant Professor at The Pomona College Department of Theatre for the Claremont Colleges.
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