Writer, Solo Performance Artist
photo by Ivy Yung
"This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art."
César Cadabes is a Queer Filipino-American writer, actor and solo performance artist who has presented his work for the Resilience Archives’ Performing Visible Resilience; Coming to America in May 2017 and Anal Sex in May 2018. He introduced his solo work-in-progress #Resist, directed by Kat Evasco, at Bindlestiff Studio’s 2018 production of Queer as Fuck. #Resist was selected to be performed at the 2018 APAture Performing Arts Showcase, an annual multidisciplinary arts festival celebrating emerging Asian and Pacific Islander artists in San Francisco.
In the summer of 2019, César was selected as a fellow for the Interdisciplinary Writers Lab (IWL), a 3-month, multi-genre master class for local writers of color, a collaboration between Kearney Street Workshop and the Asian Art Museum.
In June 2021, César presented his first full length solo show Not My First Pandemic, in a workshop performance a the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco. In November 2021, Not My First Pandemic was an official selection at the United Solo Festival at Theater Row in New York City where it received the Best One-Man Show Award and the All About Solo Critics' Award.
César was a 2021 and 2022 artist-in-residence at the Queer Cultural Center. He is also a recipient of an Individual Artist Commission grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission for FY 20/22 and FY 22/23. In addition to his solo performance work, he is the Artistic Director of GAPA Theatre, an intergenerational collective of Queer Asian and Pacific Islander writers, performers and storytellers. César also serves on the Advisory Board of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District.
photo by Ivy Yung
“I came to the show fully prepared to experience the weight of the two pandemics stacked together, but instead, César took us on a deeply personal, intimate, and hilarious journey, after which part of that weight felt lifted. I appreciated how the layered storytelling led us to find joy and resilience in dark and unlikely places.”
-Yilong Liu, Playwright
“In Not My First Pandemic, César Cadabes generously shares his history as an Asian Pacific Islander HIV positive gay man, of coming out and coming of age at the height of the AIDS epidemic and continuing to live through it. It is a deeply touching, deeply political history of family, love, loss, fear and joy, that invites us to look honestly at the interconnections between police brutality and struggles for racial, gender, sexual and health justice.
-Karen Stenberg, Founder, The Possibility Practice
"Not my First Pandemic was a riveting and touching performance, regarding the ways in which our personal histories and our collective social movements become intertwined. I was inspired and moved to see the pictures and memories of our HIV activist colleagues showcased in Cesar's story. By comparing HIV to the current pandemic, Cesar shines a light on the similarities and differences of pandemics caused by an unknown, lethal and stigmatized virus. Cesar exemplifies the epitome of community-based, social justice activism by reminding us that the personal is always political."
~Sameena Azhar, Assistant Professor, Fordham University