Livin’ La Vida Imelda takes a look at the inimitable life of Imelda Marcos in a solo show created and performed by the late Carlos Celdran (1972-2019), one of the Philippines best-known storytellers and provocateurs and an insider with intimate knowledge of Manila’s elite. The show details the life of the world’s most extravagant personality, Imelda Marcos, the wildly controversial former First Lady of the Philippines.

Recorded Off-Broadway in 2014.


Carlos P. Celdran’s “Livin La Vida Imelda” is available to stream for free from June 17 through June 30, 2020 (The Streaming Period) – OR – until it reaches a total of 6,986 views (The Streaming Limit), which ever event comes first. When either The Streaming Period or The Streaming Limit is reached, the play will no longer be available. This is mandated by our agreement with Actors’ Equity Association.


Carlos wore many hats: artist, activist, provocateur, tireless advocate for his beloved city, Manila. He wore them interchangeably, often blurring their distinctions as when he used performance art to advocate for Reproductive Rights inside Manila Cathedral in 2003. That act landed him in jail, charged with an archaic law for “offending religious feelings.” By August 2018, his case made it to the Philippine Supreme Court, which upheld the conviction. On February of 2019, rather than face the grim and very dangerous prospect of a year in Manila’s notorious prisons, he flew to Madrid, Spain, where he died on October 8, 2019 — in exile.

Ma-Yi Theater Company would like to thank Carlos’s wife, Tesa Celdran, for giving us permission to share his work. We are also deeply grateful to Carlos’s parents Doc Mike and Backie Celdran.

Carlos’ friends and family are still grieving this tremendous loss. We hope this recorded performance of his one-person play Livin’ La Vida Imelda serves as a reminder of his blazing talents.

We will miss you always, Carlos.

Your Ma-Yi Theater Family

Official Trailer

About the Playwright & Performer

Carlos Celdran (1972-2019) | Playwright, Performer

Carlos Celdran was a Filipino cultural activist, performing artist, and tour guide. Growing up in Dasmarinas Village, Makati, Philippines, he began his art career at age 14 as a cartoonist for a local Manila newspaper. He enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1991, where he studied and practiced performance art. He continued his career in the performing arts, working as a set designer and/or director. By 2000, Celdran was working as an assistant director of the Heritage Conservation Society, a non-profit organization working towards preserving historical architecture. There he gained experience in directing historical tours, which set the stage for the launch of his own tour company Walk This Way in 2002.  In 2005 he became the owner/director of an art exhibition space called The Living Room. Celdran wa an activist for HIV/AIDS awareness and reproductive health, organizing and appearing at events in the Philippines. In 2010, after staging a performance/protest in support of a Reproductive Rights Bill, he was arrested and convicted of an archaic crime for “offending religious feelings,” a first in Philippine jurisprudence. He would lose every legal appeal until 2018, when the Supreme Court upheld his conviction. Rather than spend a year in jail and face the very real threat of a “hit job,” Carlos fled to Spain with a heavy heart. After moving to Madrid, he started the Jose Rizal Walking Tour of Madrid, which took tourists to places where Filipino writer and revolutionary hero José Rizal had frequently visited during his study in the Spanish capital, and provided insights on how Rizal’s experience is linked to the Philippine Revolution. Carlos died in Madrin on October 8, 2019, while on exile.

About the Director

Ralph B. Peña | Director

Recent Off-Broadway: Felix Starro, The Chinese Lady, Among The Dead, House/Rules, and Wong Kids in The Secret of the Space Chupacabra, Go! Ralph has been Ma-Yi Theater’s Artistic Director since 1996, and has been instrumental in establishing Ma-Yi Theater Company as the country’s leading incubator of new works by Asian American playwrights, reaping numerous Obie and Drama Desk Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical (KPOP), and most recently, the 2018 Ross Wetzsteon Obie Award. Apart from Ma-Yi Theater, his work has been seen on the stages of Ensemble Studio Theater, the Public Theater, Long Wharf Theater, Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Children’s Theater Company, and La Mama ETC, to name a few. This is for Damien, always and forever.


Design Team

  • Nick Francone | Scenic Design
  • Becky Bodurtha | Costume Design
  • Yi Zhao | Lighting Design
  • Fabian Obispo | Sound Design
  • Hannah Wasileski | Projection Design
  • Jennifer Delac | Production Stage Manager
  • Sarah Devon Ford | Assistant Stage Manager
  • Suzette Porte & Jorge Z. Ortoll | Producers

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