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"Buffalo’ed" at San Jose Stage, CA
by Paul Myrvold on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 3:03pm 

Alexandria Diaz de Fato as Madrid, Nila Le as Market Girl, Gregory Manalo as Merienda, Clarissa Chun as Dancer and Carmichael "CJ" Blankenship as Dancer in San Jose Stage Company's Commission and World Premiere of "Buffalo'ed." Photo by Dave Lepori.

We certainly didn’t learn much about the Philippine Insurrection in high school history class. The ginned up Spanish-American war of 1898 lasted a few months and ended with a peace treaty that included a twenty million dollar payment that eased the Spanish surrender, put a period to that country’s global empire, and added Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to our back pocket as “protectorates.”

But the conflict continued in the Philippines when the indigenous people who had struggled against the Spanish yoke for centuries discovered that the United States of America, rather than liberating the islands, became occupiers instead. The U. S. shoved the Spanish boot off the necks of the Filipinos and replaced it with their own. Eventually seventy thousand American soldiers were deployed to the Philippines to put down the rebellion, thus turning the “freedom fighters,” who opposed Spanish imperialism, into “insurrectos” struggling against American imperialism. Moreover, mid-Twentieth century high school students never learned that thousands of Buffalo Soldiers – African American Indian fighters – were sent to war in the Philippine jungles and that some twenty of them defected to the rebels.

Clinton Derricks-Carroll* as Fagen in San Jose Stage Company's Commission and World Premiere of "Buffalo'ed." Photo by Dave Lepori.

Playwright Jeanie Barroga’s Buffalo’ed, staged in collaboration with Alleluia Panis, is a dynamic olio of style and form that tells the story of the soldiers and the insurrection with drama, music, dance and minstrelsy. With magnificent showmanship and boundless energy, Clinton Derricks-Carroll simply owns the audience from first to last as a kind of protean master of ceremonies who, as scripted by the savvy Barroga, does away with the Aristotelian unities of time, place and action. In the styles of a stereotypical minstrel, cadence-driven preacher and one man Greek chorus, he shines a modern light on century-old events entertaining as well as educating and even blows a pretty good sax. Along the way he subsumes himself into the character of the notorious defector David Fagen and together with Daniel Redmond as the intellectual Woody and Adrian Roberts as the conflicted corporal Linc completes a trio of soldiers who represent the much-abused Negro soldiers of the time. They endure the climate, bad food, separation from loved ones and the scorn of their arrogant white captain (David Arrow) who segregates them and humiliates them with punitive duties. Only their Irish American master sergeant, Connor (Tim Hart), treats them as men.

Jed Parsario (background), Rajiv Shah and Amielynn Abellera in San Jose Stage Company's World Premiere of "Buffalo'ed" by Jeannie Barroga in collaboration with Alleluis Panis. Photo by Dave Lepori

Amielynn Abellera gives a tour de force performance as Doña Luisa, an insurrectionist commander who, assuming the guise of a Manila aristocrat, uses festive soirees to gain useful intelligence by deploying a mixture of charm and alcohol against the Captain. In a dizzying display of linguistic virtuosity, she blitzkriegs the Captain in no less than five tongues while peppering their encounter with coy innuendo. Whenever she is on she commands the stage with power and emotion. Together with the appealing Rajiv Shah as the rebel general Porfirio, she sparks a satisfying and touching moment of doomed, melting passion.

And an enthusiastic bravo goes to Jed Parsario as the young water boy Nading. With beatific eyes and angelic charisma, he charms the soldiers (and the audience) with his wit and honesty even as he, too, gathers intelligence for the rebels.

The theatrical choreography of Alleluia Panis throughout the show adds a counterpoint of emotion to many scenes and the use of elaborate martial arts routines disguised as folk dancing – the rebels honing their fighting skills before the very eyes of the occupiers – was a revelation. 

Directory Anthony J. Haney keeps the action flowing and the emotion true in this entertaining, powerful production. Kudos to San Jose Stage Company for commissioning and producing a fine world premiere.

Buffalo’ed runs through April 29, 2012 at The Stage, First and William in Downtown San Jose.
Congratulations, --to you and your skillful collaborators – choreographer, director, cast, and crew – for a passionately moving experience. “Buffalo’ed” delivers the complex tale of disastrous American imperial ambition as an indelibly clear and personal human story. With great skill, you all have focused on the wrenching moral ambivalence of a brave black cavalry troop employed by their government to conquer, by brutal means, a people of color. . .With great care, you have woven into the tale, the long cultural tradition of the “oppressed” people by making use of the wonderful choreography of the Pilipino martial art of escrima.  . .the eloquent arguments between the troopers and . . .their families at home suffering from “jim crow.” . . .painfully aware of the racist basis for the conflict – the same racist basis for their own subjection at home. Your presentation does not stop there. Through wonderfully intimate scenes, we see that the native people are also besieged by their own ambivalent attitude. . .The battle between the Captain and his master sergeant makes clear that human oppression is endemic to the species.  We leave the theater with a strong sense that we have lived the history of our American heritage. . .we are still suffering from the same mortal errors. Thanks for a great theatrical evening.  
- Bill Broder, novelist
Sean Conwell,
". . .if [BUFFALO'ED] gets even a handful of people discussing. . .American racism and imperialism. . .solidarity across racial and national lines—it will have been a worthwhile endeavor."
David Wong  Apr 8, 2012   Spartan Daily
". . .the humor and choreographed dances serve as enticing interludes. . .a sobering realization that forgotten events . . .are inglorious and maddening; .. ."
GOLDSTAR April 2012  five stars 
". . .deft juggling of different theatrical styles to keep audience interest high..."
                                      four stars
"Fascinating tale that you do not find in your typical history books... Powerful story that leaves you emotionally and intellectually stimulated. . .enriching. . .excellent. . .enlightened. . .moving. . .engrossing. . .captivating. . .powerful. . .impressive. . . great acting and choreography

Emil Guillermo - Journalist,
"It’s well acted with a great cast and staging, but its spark is the movement and dance contributed by Panis. . ."
some beautifully poignant moments. . .

An informative and exciting new work about a subject of which few Americans are aware, but we should be. Very creative elements of dance, song, script, acting and directing choices make this production something that anyone with an interest in new theatre and/or good theatre a "must" see

an engrossing and captivating play. There was great dancing, and a terrific cast! It had a good, fast pace and it makes me what to re-discover this period of history

It's great that the playwright shined a light on one of the many untold stories of the american experience. I enjoyed her deft juggling of different theatrical styles to keep audience interest high. I learned a lot and had a good time while 
doing so.

Great acting & choreography...The actors were convincing & memorable. The entire cast was focused & dedicated to their roles. Go see it!

an enriching experience...
interesting to see the story from another culture's perspective...I would recommend the play to all racial/ethnic groups -- even if you are not a history buff

The actors were perfect, and the dancers were amazing...The story was powerful and the dialogue impressive

Fascinating tale that you do not find in your typical history books... Powerful story that leaves you emotionally and intellectually stimulated. You want to know more about this period of history after having your interest piqued. The choreography and escrima stick fighting scenes were lively and engaging. Dialogue was extremely powerful at times and laced with nuances and details

a very powerful and timely production.  The acting and dancing were excellent... edgy and thought-provoking...My husband and I and two friends of ours were very impressed by this production

BUFFALO'ED did not disappoint! Au contraire, it was moving, thrilling, enriching and entertaining all at once

From the performance to the staging, and overall production...I really liked its multidimensionality and non-formulaic story telling.  Very creative

Worth the won't see this at most theatres....relive and reaquaint yourself with  minstrelsy, manifest destiny, oppression, colonialism.....all that fun stuff that set the foundation for our current state of affairs........and you get to see powerful folks of color onstage---just 10 feet away from the definitely provokes discussion and examination into our shared histories.

Buffalo'ed was terrific..AWESOME! I was deeply moved! Don't miss it. Beautifully done Jeannie..a great drama! A professional production...acting and dance... 

There were many moments of brilliance in the acting (Luisa worked that neck vein) and the overall production

The performers were wonderful. the dancing, fighting, and acting were superb


MInstrelsy, bolos, great costumes, intriguing olio curtain, strong performances, music, deep lines...enjoy your kudos and all the hard work to do your art so that it can become a piece of our integrated cultural conscience

a beautiful and epic piece...important. . .a passionately moving experience. . .complex indelibly clear and personal human story...wonderful choreography of the Pilipino martial art of escrima...wonderfully intimate scenes. . .a great theatrical evening.. . .wonderful outcome (performance, direction and production)...

San Jose METRO:
"Plucks these men from the dust bin of history and drops them centerstage, where they belong." 
Thank you to Consul Emil Fernandez and the RP Embassy team in DC for advocating for Jeannie and Allelluia's latest masterpiece! - Francis Tanglao-Aguas, William & Mary College

moving, thrilling, enriching and entertaining - SF and I are so much the richer for it - Madley Katarungan

terrific..AWESOME...deeply moved... Beautifully done..a great drama!...A professional production...acting and dance - Vangie Buell

FOLKS, YOU GOTTA WATCH BUFFALO'ED - Watched it last night and was inspired by the beautiful storytelling, versatile set, dance/movement pieces, powerful imagery and historical inserts, talented acting ...Thank you Jeannie Barroga for another brilliant screenplay

AMAZING! The script, acting, dance, and of course, attention to this historical moment - Aimee Suzara

Powerful story retold with grace and power - Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor
". . .we need this play in Los Angeles, please!Prosy DelaCruz
Ken Yoder Reed 
YELP April 21, 2012
"We know we're in for a rousing performance right from the start. . ."
". . .terrific play. . .great writing, great directing, great acting. . ."
". . .simultaneous stories work. . .Abellera's passionate per-
formance is one of the great strengths of this performance.. ."
"Ms. Barroga. . .with the success of 'BUFFALO'ED'. . .created one great story here that should. . .see more cities."