Stefan on stage

Stefan in Vernon God Little singing with Cassady Maddox (left) and Dereck Cameron (right)

The youngest Filipino stage actor to perform in mainstream plays has joined Mars Cavestany’s latest production, “In My Father’s House” by Elsa Cosculuella.

Manila-born Stefan Jordana Gimenez, 22, of Abbottsford NSW will play the character Franco Sta Maria in the play based on World War II during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines and  focuses on the Sta Maria Family and how their sons were forcefully called to war.

Director Cavestany’s FILIPINAS-PETALS* ‘Kalinangan Actors Ensemble’ (KAE) is where Filipino-Australian artists join together to perform Filipino plays in English.

“Growing up in the Philippines, I have a very strong connection and love for the culture so I was immediately interested when an uncle told me about it and working with Mars so far has been a delight,” says Stefan

“I feel I am going to learn a lot from him as an actor, and as a person. When I joined the ensemble for the first reading of “In My Father’s House”, I felt right at home.”

Stefan started acting at a young age and his interest in the craft heightened at age 14 when their class traveled to New Delhi, India where he performed in a drama piece for the International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) Drama and Performing Arts Festival.

“I received positive responses from my teachers and parents who encouraged me to pursue acting. At that time I was still trying to figure out what to do.  When my family moved to Sydney I decided to pursue it more seriously and have not looked back since,” he says.

In 2011 he attended Sydney Theatre School where he performed in a contemporary piece called “Imaginary Creatures” by Malcolm Frawley and Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

“Malcolm Frawley inspired me a lot as a director and a person. He is a wonderful leader and his understanding of human emotion is exemplary.

Stefan is the fifth generation descendant of the late Brigadier General Rafael Cramé, the first Filipino Chief of the Philippine Constabulary, whose monument stands at Camp Crame today.

Theatre and art run deep in his family. A great grandfather was a playwright.  A grandmother was an actress who used to tour around Spain to perform with a group of fellow actors. Stefan’s grandfather himself was a talented painter and sculptor.

Stefan attended the McDonald College of Performing Arts, North Strathfield where he performed in at least three plays a year whilst finishing his high school education. Sometimes he did theatre productions outside of college as well.

“My parents migrated to Australia in 1973 to avoid martial law. My mother Marilou Jordana came in January then my father Bernardo Gimenez in March that same year.

“My mother was close to my father’s first cousin, that’s how they met,” narrates young Stefan.

Stefan’s father Bernardo, grew up in Manila with Spanish parents.  Bernardo, like his parents, raised five children.

“In 1990, my father was transferred to Manila through his work and I was born there in 1991 and stayed there for 14 years before we moved back to Australia.”

Stefan’s most recent performance was at the New Theatre where he did a show called “Vernon God Little”.  He played the apparition of Jesus in a play that centered on a 15-year-old boy who shot his high school classmates with his father’s rifle before turning the gun on himself.

“My character’s best-friend Vernon is being accused as an accomplice to the shootings so in my ghostly form I follow and guide Vernon throughout the play in his quest to prove his innocence and avoid the death penalty,” he relates.

“It was a challenging but fun production to express your character’s thoughts without using word–not to mention the singing and dancing!”

His advice to young ones interested in acting:  “I say go for it. Doing drama is a great opportunity to meet a wide range of people.

“The craft attracts people from different ages, backgrounds, experiences and you can learn so many different things from each individual.

“I’m naturally shy and introverted, but through acting I have gained many good friends and confidence in the process,” Stefan says.

***Photos by Marilie Eftekharhashtroudi***


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