The Dragon Cycle is a trilogy of plays by Sara Porkalob honoring her family; three generations of Filipino Americans descended from gangsters and karaoke fighting to survive, thrive, and love.
Dragon Lady, Part 1
Dragon Lady is a two act cabaret musical with a three-person band and a cameo appearance by the real Maria Porkalob Sr, the matriarch of the clan. On the eve of her 60th birthday, faced with her crumbling legacy and apathetic children, Grandma Maria decides to share the dark secrets of her fantastical life with one lucky grandchild and discovers that it is never too late to atone for the pain we inflict on the ones we love most and to forgive ourselves for past regrets. Intergenerational trauma and healing, lots of karaoke, and a couple of murders: this is Dragon Lady.
(Premiered at Intiman Theatre, 2017)
Dragon Mama, part 2
Dragon Mama is a two act solo-show with music about Maria Porkalob Jr,. the eldest of the second generation. Born to an immigrant mother with lost dreams, an absent father, and a society that fails immigrant families, Maria Porkalob Jr. is forced to grow up too soon, acting as surrogate mother to her 4 siblings while trying to balance her intersectional identity--poor, queer, brown, an immigrant. She yearns for a gayer, more POC-filled life than Bremerton, WA can offer her. When the opportunity to earn a lot of money in a short time presents itself, Maria must make an important decision. Leave her debt-ridden mother, four young siblings, and newborn daughter for the wild unknown of Alaska, or stay close to home, family, and intergenerational ghosts? Dragon Mama traverses 25 years of her mother’s life filled with queer love in a barren land, a dope 90’s R&B soundtrack, Filipino gangsters, and ghosts.
(Premiered at American Repertory Theatre, 2019)
Dragon Baby, Part 3
Dragon Baby is a two act musical with 4 principals and 4-6 ensemble. The first of her family to attend college, Sara Porkalob has one more project to complete before she begins her glamorous life as a professional actress: her senior thesis. Faced with her parent’s ugly breakup and midlife crisis, Sara decides to devote all of her time and energy into writing the next Great American Musical but no matter how much she writes, it all seems...wrong. What story did she have to tell? What could she create that hadn’t been already invented?
Picking up where Dragon Mama left off, we follow Sara’s journey from the queer communal house of her childhood in Anchorgage, AK to her teens in conservative hometown of Bremerton, WA to the hallowed halls of a Seattle liberal arts college as she deconstructs her white supremacist education, juggles 5 jobs including but not limited to a phone sex operator, a drug dealer, and a pizza call center aide, and ultimately realizes her purpose in the universe.
(Commissioned by American Repertory THEATER)
Dragon Lady REVIEWS
“…A fierce, vibrant memoir.” -Seattle Times
“Porkalob succeeded by shattering the need of a strictly Aristotelian plot structure, and creating a space for a Filipino story so unique it envelopes every audience member regardless of ethnicity.” -Howlround
“…Sara Porkalob channels multiple generations of family history with charisma and brute force.” -Seattle Met Magazine
“Experiencing her remarkable show Dragon Lady is akin to taking a master class.” -Theatre Mirror
“Dragon Lady’s power lies partly in its existential authenticity, the power of the personal.” -Artsfuse
Dragon Mama REVIEWS
“A family’s turbulent life and times, brilliantly told…” -Boston Globe
“Deftly fusing comedy and tragedy, Porkalob intensely depicts a young woman’s odyssey to recover her lost adolescence amidst the sonic panorama of the late ’80s.” -The Harvard Crimson
“If Porkalob’s stories weren't so funny, they'd be completely tragic.” -The Artery
“It is rare to encounter female storytelling with such autonomy. Porkalob goes about her work with passion, directness and authenticity. There is no self-conscious bravado, no angry fist raised as these three Porkalob women battle against gender discrimination, sexual misuse, immigrant bigotry, abject poverty, parental abuse, denial of an individual identity. There is something so fresh and unfettered about the way she brings us into her world.” - Slow Muse
Directed by: Andrew Russell
Original Music by: Pete Irving
Produced by : Intiman Theatre
60 YEARS. 3 GENERATIONS. 1 FILIPINO GANGSTER FAMILY. It is the year of the Water Dragon and the eve of Grandma Maria’s 60th birthday. By the light of the karaoke machine, fueled by pork dumplings and Diet Pepsi, she shares a dark secret from her Filipino gangster past with one lucky grandchild. Traversing 50 years of faulty family memories, Sara Porkalob portrays 32 characters from 3 generations in this hysterical, moving and new musical about what it means to be brown, poor, and newly American.
Directed by: Andrew Russell
Produced by : American Repertory Theatre
How does a Dragon earn her wings? Maria Porkalob, Jr., yearns for a gayer, more POC-filled life than Bremerton, WA, can offer. When presented with an opportunity to make a quick fortune, Maria must make an important decision: leave her debt-ridden mother, four young siblings, and newborn daughter Sara for the wild unknown of Alaska, or stay close to home, family, and intergenerational trauma? Traversing 25 years filled with queer love in a barren land, Dragon Mama features ghosts, Filipino gangsters, and a dope 80s and 90s soundtrack.