Melodrama of Migration: Suffering, Performance, and Stardom in Ricardo Lee’s DH: Domestic Helper

Oscar Tantoco Serquiña, Jr.

Abstract

This essay revisits DH: Domestic Helper, a 1992 play from the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) that explores how Philippine labor out-migration ensnares female migrant subjects in states of perennial leave-takings and tentative resettlements abroad. The discussion comprehends the suffering that overseas Filipina workers experience, as well as the agency that they demonstrate through performance in everyday life outside their source country. This essay concludes with an inter-subjective analysis of the very star and ultimate persuasion of PETA’s phenomenal theater production, Nora Aunor, the melodramatic mode of theater making, and the topic of labor out-migration. By putting these issues side by side, this essay discursively intertwines stardom, theater, the domestic, and the diasporic.

Keywords

Philippine plays; feminized labor; Nora Aunor; Ricardo Lee; Brechtian structure; plays-withina-play; Superstar; nationalist theater; people's theater

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2020.03512