Company in Residence 2022

Bahay Perlas

Bahay Perlas (House of Pearls) features two Filipinx queens: Lady Fortuna (Christian Alcera) and Special K (Kiel Galera). They were birthed through the PTE Drag Performance Class of 2018 and 2019. Since then, they have been featured in drag cabarets, parades and films, breaking through the drag community with lightning speed due to their incredible story-telling skills, musicality and dance talent.

Bahay Perlas is the first of its kind in Winnipeg, a collective that welcomes drag and non-drag artists who are dedicated to breaking stigmas against drag culture. Joining Lady Fortuna and Special K, are choreographer Joseph Sevillo (dance teacher and choreographer for Shelley Shearer School of Dance) and director Hazel Venzon (artistic director and producer for U ‘N I Together Productions) who are passionate about drag performance, and supporters of BP’s artistic growth and innovative expression.

Bahay Perlas was created to cultivate and build skills for Filipinx drag queens, creating welcomed spaces and possible futures for younger generations.

The project:

Debut: Queer-ifying a traditional Filipino celebration made for everyone, starring Winnipeg's first Filipino Drag House: Bahay Perlas.  Debut will act as a pathway for all audiences to participate inside this hybrid event that will showcase traditional elements of performance, story-telling, celebration and participation that lies within every cultural tradition. 

Debut is inspired by the Debut of traditional Filipino culture, an event that has celebrated a young person’s coming of age since the 1400s. As queer drag artists, BP aims to reclaim the event - creating a debut for themselves - bringing awareness to the Filipino community, insisting that they, too, are here and deserve to be celebrated. Debut is an exciting collision between traditional Filipino celebrations and dance forms - and -  the contemporary drag show and spectacle. Debut is a love letter to - both - their Filipino and Drag families, a coming-out celebration, variety show and public marking of a milestone. It is an evening of storytelling about finding family and how discomfort was turned into passion told through dance, music and song.  Debut brings together Filipino tradition and two of Winnipeg’s most exciting Filipinx drag artists to create an exciting contemporary hybrid event like no other. 

Winnipeg has a small yet fierce drag community that welcomed BP without hesitation and with full support of BP’s passion to entertain and express their artistic voice, which had been hidden deep throughout their lives. Showcasing fellow IBPOC drag queens throughout the night, Debut is a party-extravaganza-spectacle featuring the drag community and provides a space to be nurtured and supported, a place of safety for everyone to grow further into themselves as drag artists. Debut will share some of the hidden truths under the layers of make-up that are released when the corset comes undone; it will break traditions and entertain the fear out of anyone who’s afraid to be free. 

Typically, a Debut marks the debutant’s 18th birthday where themes are based on the number eighteen. 18 Roses, for example, is a presentation which involves the participation of the debutants’ closest males who dances one-to-one with the debutant in a marry-go-round fashion. Debut will hybridize the old with the new by “queering” the activity, centering LGBTQ+ attendees - primarily the drag community - revising tradition. Every mini-act, like 18 Roses, will express love for gathering beyond gender barriers to create new relationships between drag artistry and Filipino tradition.

UNIT Productions is guiding the development of Debut

Combining the producing, directing, writing, dramaturgy and visual design talents of duo Hazel Venzon and David Oro, U N I Together Productions (UNIT), produces culturally bending content that brings new stories to the forefront and are passionate about amplifying POC stories and voices and are especially interested in narratives that illuminate Filipino-Canadian experience and diaspora.

UNIT is a multi-media producing company for theatre, film, television and the web - all for the hopes of a better future and a sustainable ecology for Filipino-Canadian stories and story-tellers. UNIT’s core activities include: mentorship, consultancy, dramaturgy, directing, commissioning, producing and presenting support on an ongoing basis while respecting the organic growth and pace at which both UNIT and the Filipino community moves.