With a one-woman show coming to Bumbershoot, the local theater personality runs down her Seattle favorites.
When she graduated from Cornish College of the Arts, performer, artist and activist Sara Porkalob didn’t like what she saw in Seattle’s theater world for Asian women.
“The roles I would be after would always be background roles and be based on Asian stereotypes,” she said. “I didn’t like it. It made me very uncomfortable. It made me very angry.”
She decided to do something about it. Now 26, the Bremerton-bred artist, who claims Filipino, Chinese and Hawaiian heritage, spent the past few years performing and creating works that upend stereotypes, appearing in shows at 5th Avenue Theatre, Taproot Theatre and the Annex Theatre, among others.
‘Dragon Lady’ show at Bumbershoot
5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 5 and 6, at the Theatre Puget Sound Stage at Center Theatre. For more information, visit bumbershoot.com
In her forthcoming Bumbershoot performance, a reprisal of her one-woman show, “Dragon Lady,” Porkalob plays 12 different characters — most of them women from her family— with action that spans decades.
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The title pokes at the cliché of the “dragon lady”— “traditionally a woman who is cunning, sexual but also evil and wicked,” says Porkalob. The title is a means to reclaim the phrase, “which used to be a derogatory, racial slur,” says Porkalob, and “make it a term of empowerment.”
Though the work explores heavy themes, it’s not all serious. The dizzying turn of characters and time frames — with a little karaoke thrown in — makes sure of that.
“It’s crazy, people walk away from this, always, asking me, ‘How much of that is true?’ is their first question,” she says. “And then their second statement is they don’t care how much of it was true because it was such a ride, and they could have watched another hour.”
Where do you live?
Lower Queen Anne.
The International District.
Camping. The last place I went to was just off Highway 2. We camp up in the Pass. It’s really close but it’s still far away. We went to this place called Lake Valhalla.
Most scenic drive?
The drive from here to Bellingham via Chuckanut Drive.
Kushi Bar in Belltown. It’s like Korean/Japanese fusion. All of their grilled appetizers are fantastic. And their noodle dishes are also fantastic.
Where do you meet up for drinks?
Chuck’s Hop Shop. There are two locations — in the Central District and out in Greenwood. The one in Greenwood’s pretty good. I’m a cider person. I like the Seattle Cider’s Citrus.
Where’s the best view in Seattle?
There’s this place up in Queen Anne called Kerry Park about three blocks from where I live. That has a fantastic view.
Neighborhood pet peeve?
Favorite karaoke joint and jam?
Rock Box on Capitol Hill is pretty good for private stuff. My favorite jam, the one I always sing is “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley.
On the Boards in Lower Queen Anne. I like the variety. They pull in a lot of work from outside of the state and outside of the country. And the local work that they do is all new work which I admire.
How often do you go to the theater?
Pretty often. This last month in August I saw five productions. I’m trying to be better about seeing more theater.
For grocery shopping I go out of my way and go to HMart in either Federal Way or Lynnwood. Or, Viet-Wah in the International District. Being Asian, I have much more selection there. Especially produce. And the prices are incredibly cheap.
For clothing, I try as much as possible to buy things secondhand — I really like the Goodwill and Crossroads on Capitol Hill. Also, I only wear black, white, gray and off-white. I just really wanted to simplify my life in terms of belongings. So I got rid of 70 percent of my belongings and got a completely new wardrobe that I wanted to be durable and last for a long time and would look good with anything else in my closet.
How do you take your coffee?
I like espresso con panna — espresso topped with a little whipped cream.
Do you make it at home or pick it up?
Pick it up. Not Starbucks. I like going to Uptown Espresso which is really close to where I live.
What’s your most Northwest moment?
When I went to Washington, D.C., and I was literally stunned that they didn’t have composting bins. Just being like, “They have recycling, but not compost!” I was definitely hit in the face with my Northwest privilege.
What’s your No. 1 recommendation to out-of-towners?
Get outside and go to the water. Go paddleboarding down in South Lake Union. Rent a canoe or a kayak. Get outside, don’t do the Duck tour, dammit!
If you go
Eat & drink
Kushi Bar, 2319 Second Ave., 206-448-2488 or kushibar.com
Chuck’s Hop Shop, 656 N.W. 85th St., 206-297-6212 or chucks85th.com
uptown espresso, 525 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206-285-3757 or velvetfoam.com
Rock Box, 1603 Nagle Place, 206-302-7625 or rockboxseattle.com
On the Boards, 100 W. Roy St., 206- 217-9886 or ontheboards.org
Discovery Park, 3801 Discovery Park Blvd., 206-386-4236 or seattle.gov/parks/environment/discovery.htm
Lake Valhalla, Central Cascades, Stevens Pass, wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lake-valhalla
Kerry Park, 211 W. Highland Drive, 206-684-4075
HMart, 3301 184th St. S.W., Lynnwood, 425-776-0858 or hmart.com
Viet-Wah, 1032 S. Jackson St., 206-329-1399 or vietwah.com
Goodwill Capitol Hill, 115 Belmont Ave. E., 206-812-7583 or seattlegoodwill.org
crossroads, 325 Broadway Ave. E., 206-328-5867 or crossroadstrading.com