Play about Filipino drag queens earn raves in London

By Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Mar 11 2013 10:05 AM | Updated as of Mar 12 2013 02:33 AM

LONDON - A new play inspired by the award-winning documentary of Tomer Heymann about Filipino drag queens is earning raves in London.

Paper Dolls had its world premiere at the Tricycle Theatre in North London on February 28, with positive reviews and accolades from thespians, media people and ordinary spectators.

The play, written by Philip Himberg for it stage adaptation, is based on a true story of five Filipino immigrants in Tel Aviv, Israel who lived double lives as care assistants or carers for elderly Orthodox Jewish men in the morning and drag queens at night.


The Pinoy transsexuals formed a drag queen stage act dubbed as “Paper Dolls” where they found solace while in the pursuit of finding home and acceptance in a foreign land.

Himberg spoke to ABS-CBN Europe to share the challenges he encountered in writing the play, how he was inspired to do write the stage adaptation, and the clash of different cultures in the characters in the story.

Breathing life to the characters on stage are actors Benjamin Wong, who plays Cheska, and Jon Norman Schneider, who plays Giorgio. They told ABS-CBN Europe about the characters they portray and what motivated them to audition for the role.


Schneider, a Filipino-American, also articulated on what it’s like to play a Filipino character.

Four of the five Paper Dolls now live and work in London. One of the Paper Dolls called Sally, worked in the UAE as a hairdresser in 2007 and met a tragic death.

The stage adaptation of Paper Dolls is directed by the theatre’s artistic director, Indhu Rubasingham, choreographed by Allistair David and music by Nigel Liley and Ben and Max Ringham. The play will run until April 13.