GENseng highlights Filipino culture in first student-directed play “Eye of the Coconut”

“Eye of the Coconut,” the first full-stage GENseng production directed by a student, is about a Filipino family trying to establish a place for its heritage, each in their individual lives.

The father (Senior Dominick Ciruzzi) is assumed to be an “authentic Hawaiian” and thus asked to play Hawaiian music, whereas the three daughters are uninterested in keeping with the family’s culture and traditional practices.

“I wanted to instill an appreciation of Philippine culture through a more educational piece. The play to me means pride in one’s culture,” said Director sophomore Kimberly Olsen.

Olsen said she definitely faced hardships during the show’s development.

“There was a lot of figuring it out as I went. This was also my first time directing a full production, so not only did I have to immerse myself in a different culture, I had to learn about directing,” said Olsen.

Olsen said, however, that she didn’t have difficulty managing a cast of her peers.

“Despite being friends with the cast and crew, I was able to set the boundaries between working and socializing,” said Olsen.

She also said that professor of theatre Randy Kaplan played a huge part in her growth as a director, calling her a “guiding light.”

“I can’t express how thankful I am for the opportunity that she gave me. Dr. Kaplan has been a wonderful mentor,” said Olsen.

The show itself was interesting to watch. The scene design in the Black Box Theatre is uniquely comprised of two mini stages in one. The family’s kitchen is on one side and the Polish American Grill and Restaurant on the other.

Not all the actors matched the high energy of the show, but the ones that did put on a good performance. Horace Gromski (junior Sam White), owner of the club, was funny whenever he was onstage and White made it clear that he was having a good time.

The three sisters Suzie (freshman Amy Bishop), Pammie (senior Hui Min Chia) and Edie (junior Ronni Chow) had an intriguing dynamic. It was clear that the characters shared an important bond despite representing three different kinds of rebellion against their culture.

There were some questionable acting choices throughout the performance. Some lines that seemed to be jokes were delivered in monotone, which made it unclear if they were meant to be funny. A few minor details were emphasized whereas big facts or statements were sometimes swept aside.

In spite of this, “Eye of the Coconut” is certainly worth seeing. The show displays a different look at racism though the presentation is lighthearted. It challenges people to reconsider their own heritage and the amount of pride they show in it.

“Eye of the Coconut” will run April 26 – 27 at 7 p.m. and April 28 at 2 p.m.