Graphic Design by Amanda Oleson
The Custom Made Theatre Co and CounterPulse Present
by Aimee Suzara
directed by Nikki Meñez
October 19-29, 2023
Performances at CounterPulse (80 Turk Street, San Francisco)
Sugarpie and Trixie live as scavengers at the edge of a landfill in the Philippines called Paradise Mountain. After losing their families in a disaster, the young women have learned to survive on their own, until a young Filipino-American arrives and makes Sugarpie question whether there is more to life than just surviving. This play explores the nature of resilience, adventure, chosen family, and the importance of following your dreams.
A lyrical adventure-drama about two young women who live as scavengers at the edge of a landfill in the Philippines.
About the Play
Aimee Suzara - Playwright
“I have been interested in sharing the stories of people living near landfills since the time I visited the real-life Payatas landfill in 1999, shortly before the tragic landslide that killed at least 218 people. Scavenger communities represent 24% of the world’s population and serve an important role by saving recyclable materials from landfills–they are also often the most vulnerable to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change. In telling this story, I wanted to uplift the resilience and humanity of those who are literally cleaning up the waste of the world, living unseen in society. I also wanted to recognize the deep bonds and structures of love that are formed in the face of tragedy and survival. I hope this story helps us better face the problems we share as humans occupying this planet.”
Nikki Meñez- Director
“Aimee’s voice in this play paints a vivid picture of the lives of people of the Payatas landfill, but also an inner world within the brutal reality of these scavenging communities that is filled with poetry, magic, and color. Though the characters Sugarpie and Trixie have very different world views and coping mechanisms, the way that they treasure their dreams and their relationship with one another catch the light like a prism – at once both blinding and beckoning the audience to see the world through their experiences.”
- Rae Yuen (SUGARPIE)
- Mikee Loria (JOE)
- Nikki Meñez (Director)
- Rachel Grace Reyes Mogan (Stage Manager)
- Dom Refuerzo (TRIXIE)
- Em Dwyer (Costume and Props Design)
- Evan Wardell (Sound Design)
- Carlos Aceves (Scenic Design)
- David Ragaza (Lighting Design)
- Aimee Suzara (Playwright)
- Caro Asercion (Dramaturg)
- Jeunée Simon (Intimacy Director)
Rae (she/they) is an actor, vocalist, and illustrator from the San Francisco Bay Area. She began practicing realistic portraiture from the age of 5, and burgeoned into a live performer as a young adult. As a complement to her years of musical theatre, a role as lead vocalist for the R&B, Soul, and Jazz Band, dubbed the Souled Out Underground, subsequently thrusted her into the world of professional East Bay musicianship. Since, she has performed in spaces such as Bindlestiff, Zellerbach Hall, ZSpace, Oakland’s Flight Deck, and more.
Mikee Loria (he/him) is excited to work with Custom Made on Tiny Fires. He originally played Joe for the zoom reading and is overjoyed to reprise the role in-person. Recent highlights include Wolf from Wolf Play with Shotgun Players and writing “Get Good” for Bindlestiff Studios: Stories High. When not acting / writing, Mikee is gaming, reading horror novels, or eating bowls of ramen. Mikee thanks the cast + crew, family, partner, and friends for their support. IG: @michaeleloria
Nikki Meñez (they/she/siya) is a director, movement artist, and arts administrator based in the San Francisco Bay Area who is moved to challenge what performing arts look like and how stories are told. A graduate from the University of California at Santa Cruz, Nikki received degrees in Environmental Studies and Theatre Arts and is an alum of Rainbow Theater. Nikki is the Curatorial Director at Z Space where they curate and cultivate the rental partnerships that populate the venue side of the organization and coordinate Z Space’s various residency programs in order to make the venue more accessible to the local arts ecosystem. When not at Z Space or directing, Nikki works in casting and artist outreach, theater education, and arts advocacy for a more equitable, sustainable, and humane creative ecosystem. Bay Area creative affiliations include Queer Cat Productions, Awesome Theatre, Custom Made Theatre. Faultline Theatre, Epic Party Theater, & PianoFight.
Rachel Grace Reyes Mogan
Rachel Mogan is a Bay Area native Stage Manager as well as Resident Artist with Crowded Fire Theatre. Recent CFT credits include Church directed by Mina Morita, Transfers with Ken Savage as well as Inked Baby directed by Lisa Marie Rollins. Other Bay Area credits include Stage Managing and Assistant Stage Managing with Cutting Ball Theater (Ondine, A Dreamplay, Hedda Gabler), Campo Santo Theater (Ethos De Masquerade, Candlestick), and Custom Made Theatre Co (Hooded, Or Being Black For Dummies).
Dom Refuerzo (they/he) is a forever work-in-progress and loose adaptation of the word “artist.” They have premiered their music compositions in Austria and across the so-called United States. He has also sung with New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus, and most recently, he starred in Awesome Theatre’s production of Lizard Women. They are elated to make their debut at Custom Made and continue being queer off and on the stage. He is grateful to his family, friends, and partner for supporting his artistic journey in all of its chaos.
Costume and Props Design
Em (They/Them) is a costume designer and performer from San Francisco. Em has designed, styled and wardrobe supervised for many theater companies across the SF Bay Area, including Shotgun Players, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Custom Made Theater, Quantum Dragon Theater, Youth Musical Theater Company, and the San Francisco Playwrights’ Center.
Carlos Aceves (he/him) is a Bay Area based designer and theatre maker whose practice centers on new works and social justice theatre. Selected scenic and projection design credits include: The Displaced, Crowded Fire Theatre; Walls, San Francisco Mime Troupe; PrEP Play, or Blue Parachute, New Conservatory Theatre Center; Long Day’s Journey into Night, Eugene O’Neill Festival of Theatre in New Ross Ireland; Justice, Marin Theatre Company; Dream Hou$e, Shotgun Players; and Cyrano, Aurora Theatre.
Dave (he/him) has been designing lights for music, dance, and plays at Bindlestiff Studio-a small black box theater in the heart of the SOMA Pilipinas- since 2012. He is a recipient of the API Futures Fund Award from the Chinese Culture Center of SF for lighting design and a teaching artist with the Mission Academy for the Performing Arts at Brava Theater. Love Always to Aureen and Kidlat for their support.
Aimee Suzara is a Filipino-American poet, playwright, and performer whose mission is to create poetic and theatrical work about race, gender, and the body to provoke dialogue and social change. Suzara has graced stages nationally with her dynamic spoken word and has collaborated with dance theater companies and musical groups, including Deep Waters Dance Theater, Ramon Alayo Dance Theater, Kronos Quartet, as well as produced her own multidisciplinary projects. Her poetry book, SOUVENIR (WordTech Editions 2014) was a Willa Award Finalist and her poems appear in numerous collections. Her performance and plays have been supported by the Kenneth Rainin New Works Fund, YBCAway Award, National Endowment for the Arts, and more. She is the founder of a writing and consulting business, Wild Tongues, and has taught poetry, spoken word, creative writing, ethnic studies, literature and composition for the past twenty years, to youth and adults. She’s currently teaching at San Francisco State University. www.aimeesuzara.net
Caro Asercion (they/them) is a dramaturg, producer, stage manager, and interdisciplinary artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. An advocate for new works and emerging artists, they have supported the development of new plays in various functions at A.C.T., Magic Theatre, Crowded Fire, Town Hall, Custom Made, and many other companies around the bay area and beyond. Caro is the Leader of Artistic Producing at Crowded Fire Theater. They’re thrilled to return to this project with the ‘Tiny Fires’ team once more!
Jeunée Simon (she/her) is an actor, director, and intimacy director in the Bay Area. She is dedicated to creating braver spaces where artists can be vulnerable and play. Recent intimacy direction credits include: Lear (California Shakespeare Theater), The Code (A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory), Coming Soon (Z Space), Boys Go to Jupiter (Word for Word), Circle Mirror Transformation (Custom Made Theatre Co.), Little Shop of Horrors (Berkeley Playhouse), and more.