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ARTIST INTERVIEW: James Harvey Estrada [English Translation]
Published December 4, 2020

Translation by: Kirby Vicente

The following text is the english translation of James Harvey Estrada‘s Artist Interview which originally premiered on the website on December 4, 2020, 8:30 PM. The interview focuses on James Harvey Estrada’s experiences as a contemporary performance maker with works capturing prayer and healing, confrontations of truth, and lastly inclusivity and togetherness. 

“フレ フレ Ostrich!! Hayupang Die-Bow-Ken!” is a work comprising a performance and party that takes place at two locations: the Social Asia Theater (online) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, Theatre West. The piece was derived from James Harvey Estrada original play “Ang mga Nawalang Panaginip sa Pagsilang ng Guyang Isa lang ang Mata”, written in 2016. Each location highlights a specific experience for the audiences. The piece was originally staged in two separate venues namely the Social Asia Theater and the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater, maneuvering the relationships of both projected and physical bodies in both online and on-ground stages through the mediums of virtual reality and alternative realities. 

This piece was originally performed for the APAF Exhibition 2020 together with collaborators Aokid, Taishi Nakuda, Bunny Kadag, Robi Rusdiana, and Mei Yamanaka.

I’m here at Binangonan Rizal. November 7, 7:13 PM. I am James Harvey Estrada, Performance-Maker.

Question: Where are you coming from?

Where I come from. I am James Harvey Estrada from Binangonan Rizal, the place where I grew up which is a few minutes away from the arts capital of the Philippines the home for visual artists. But here, performance art is not that rich, at least for me. I’m here in Binangonan right now. I started creating l art on my own because my parents are teachers and most of my ancestors are farmers. So when I came to Manila, I was eager to learn and to perform. But because you wanted to earn, you have to go and study broadcast instead of picking arts of performing arts. I think that’s where I’m coming from because my family is not that rich to pursue the arts, they say being an artist is a privilege. I’m one of the living proof that it’s not that easy to create art and you have to earn money on the side when you want to do your art. I live near the lake of Laguna de Bay and I spend some time there and that’s where the concepts I wanted to create came from. Eventually at this point in my life, those things I dreamed of doing when I was younger, when I go back to the lake where I spent some time dreaming and thinking of things I want to create, it all goes back to me. I hope I’m able to bring back to the small town of Binangonan what I’m doing outside or at Quezon City. Right now I’m at Binangonan Rizal and I’m trying to revive my childhood memories, how I was deprived of art making, and how I can give back to the grassroots. That’s what the pandemic taught me, to go back to your home and to your place and maybe find someone like you who wants to create but doesn’t have any space or avenues to create. I started performing inside the church. It all started from Born Again Christian gathering wherein you’ll create a Salvation Story, and they’ll make a Dance Drama or Interpretative Dance out of it, you go to different towns and start preaching the gospel. I started dancing in 2nd grade, where we had a solo dance in the gym and you’re a small kid and everyone is enjoying while watching you perform even the elders from the religious groups. The story of the dance is for example you’re a Sinner and Satan will come but Jesus Christ will come to the rescue and you’ll be saved. From that process, I was able to bring the strength of religious making and I had a realization that perhaps dance is life-changing, that performance is life-changing. I also got my first Talent Fee worth 500 pesos way back in high school from creating religious dances and performances. So I realized that I can take rackets, earn money and that art can be financially reciprocated in a way. That’s where I started as a young creator. Eventually this nurtured when I went to college and became part of the PUP Sininglahi Polyrepertory, although it’s not religious at some point it’s where I was exposed to other forms of theatre.

Click here to read the full transcript.