Inside the Solo Fest provides behind-the-scenes interviews with each of our featured artists in the 2nd annual PlayGround Solo Performance Festival, running through February 10 at Potrero Stage. In this issue, we introduce Emil Guillermo, who offers the final performance of his one-person show, EMIL AMOK: SEX & AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, this Thursday, February 7 at 8pm.

Emil Amok Guillermo is an award-winning journalist at, SF native, and former host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.” His “Amok Monologues” are adapted from a column collection that won an American Book Award. A Filipino American, he graduated from Harvard, and performs his solo plays around the country.

What’s your show about?

It’s about me going amok.

My father was a colonized Filipino who came to the U.S. in 1928. He faced what I call Filipinophobia. And it was about sex as much as it was about race. And then I link it to my life, and the present day. This was not 1930s Europe. This was 1930s America. In California. I also talk about privilege, Harvard, growing up in San Francisco, and working at NPR.  There’s a lot to go amok about.

How would you describe your performance style?

I’m a storyteller in the Spalding Gray school. But I don’t hide behind a desk. And I have a gong. So I like to say it’s “Spalding Gray meets Ferdinand Marcos.” A comedian friend told me “Imelda Marcos” would be funnier. But that would require a costume change. And more shoes.

What can audiences expect with your show?

It can be funny like standup, but with flecks of tragedy. They’ll learn a true story from American history. And see a new perspective on the ongoing race conversation. It’s not just black and white.

Why solo performance? What’s special about this art form and how does it serve the work you do?

I interviewed Spalding Gray when I worked at KRON in the ‘80s, and have always been fascinated by the personal. It’s you against the world baring your soul.

If you weren’t doing solo performance, you’d be…

Writing a novel. Solo is like doing the novel live in public in real time. But just an hour.

Catch Emil Guillermo in EMIL AMOK: SEX & AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, February 7 at 8pm. For more information and tickets, visit