Some shows this weekend of Sept 30 Friday to Oct 2 Sunday 2011

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Some shows this weekend of Sept 30 Friday to Oct 2 Sunday 2011

This weekend only

Philippine Opera Company's "Ang Bagong Harana" Sept 29-Oct 1, 2011

Airdance's "Adarna" Sept 30-Oct 1, 2011

Closing this weekend
Dulaang UP’s “Titus Andronicus” (until Oct 2, 2011)

FREE ADMISSION "Unlimited Text" Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, 2011 (well, okay, closing next week)

Opening this weekend
Rep Philippines and Stages’ “Peter Pan: a musical adventure” Sept 29-Oct 30

Tanghalang Pilipino' "Tatlong Tabing: Three Plays by Tony Perez" Sept 30-Oct 23, 2011

Gantimpala Theater's "Sino Ka Ba Jose Rizal?" (until Oct 15, 2011)

Repertory Philippines’ “Seussical” (until Dec 18, 2011)

Upstart Productions' "Much Ado About Nothing"(until March 2011)

Opening soon
Atlantis Productions' "Next to Normal" re-run Oct 7-16, 2011

Resorts World Manila's "Sound of Music" Oct 15-Dec 11, 2011
Please watch out for Theaterbator blog by Walter Ang's post on this show.

What show/s will you watch? Share your comments.

Atlantis Productions' "Next to Normal" re-run Oct 7-16, 2011

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Announcement from Atlantis Productions

Atlantis Productions'
"Next to Normal"
returns for a limited engagement
Oct 7-16, 2011
Carlos Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza Bldg., Makati City

A rock musical by Tom Kitt about a suburban family whose matriarch Diana Goodman deals with a serious case of bi-polar disorder.

Directed by Bobby Garcia, cast includes Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Diana Goodman, Jett Pangan, Felix Rivera, Jake Macapagal, Pilipinas Got Talent’s Markki Stroem, and Bea Garcia.

Contact 892-7078 or Ticketworld at 891-9999 or

What do you think of this production?  Share your comments.

From stage to page: re/viewing the views of reviewers

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Yay! A paper I prepared for the Tanghalan: Preparatory Consultation and Research on Regional Theater Aesthetics project (held from late 2009 till early 2010) will be used/presented in this year's Tanghalin ang Tanghalan: National Conference on Theater Aesthetics on Sept. 28-29, 2011.

The paper I prepared was part of the the National Capital Region group's research output.  The group's output will be presented by Jerry Respeto during the conference. (There are also groups representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.)

Here is a shortened version of the paper.

To acquire the full version, for republishing permission and/or citation clarifications,
please contact:
Glecy Atienza
Conference Director
Tanghalin ang Tanghalan: National Conference on Theater Aesthetics (Philippines)

From stage to page: re/viewing the views of reviewers
By Walter Ang
January 12, 2010

Part of the rationale of the Tanghalan! Preparatory Consultation and Research on Regional Theater Aesthetics project states, "A regular audience would have a feel of the qualities they look for when they watch a theater performance.  However, these qualities have to be processed and integrated into the theater artists' experience so that Philippine theater can be marked and appraised not only from the scholars point of view, but more so, from the theater artists' eye."

From this statement emerged the idea of asking what role audiences actually play in the process of developing or maintaining a particular aesthetic: how they acknowledge, process, accept/reject, and even legitimize a production and the aesthetic it embodies or espouses.

The idea grew to mining the thoughts of theater reviewers who are published in newspapers-the reviewers, in this case, partly representing the points of view of audiences: how they become interested in theater to begin with, what they look for in a production, how they evaluate a production, and what opinions, if any, are formed after watching a production.

Partial view
Charged with the task of reviewing theater productions, theater reviewers hold a unique perspective on the landscape of Philippine theater in that they are able to watch much more productions than the average theater audience (or even the average theater practitioner) and are able to survey the various offerings of different theater groups.

Interview questions were prepared in hopes of having the reviewers themselves reveal their personal workings instead of gleaning it from an analysis of their published works.

Given the conference's objectives and its pioneering efforts, the matters discussed here hope to raise more questions than they answer.  Writers, researchers, academics, and theater practitioners will hopefully be spurred to further develop and refine the ideas that are presented here.

Due to time and resource limitations, only the reviewers of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) were interviewed.  The reviewers included would have either written or are still currently writing reviews on plays and musicals, excluding music and dance productions, with a minimum of ten published reviews in the Arts and Books subsection of the newspaper's Lifestyle section.

The cast
Amadis Maria Guerrero (b. 1941) started contributing to PDI in December 1991.  He eventually started writing "capsule reviews of plays" that became integrated into his quarterly "report cards" on the performing arts.

Cora Llamas (b. 1966) shares how full-length theater reviews began being published more regularly in the newspaper's Arts and Books subsection, "Around 1999, several leaders of the theater community, including Audie Gemora, Luna Inocian, Rody Vera, and Bart Guingona approached PDI's Lifestyle section editor Thelma San Juan to propose having a regular theater section in PDI with themselves as active columnists."

"I got a call from Luna who said Thelma wanted to have an exploratory meeting with me regarding my doing regular reviewing for PDI. I wrote reviews regularly until around 2005."

It was around the time of Llamas' departure as a contributing writer for PDI when Gibbs Cadiz (b. 1970) observed that, "no one was covering theater anymore. I volunteered for it, and from writing advance features of theater productions, graduated to writing reviews about them."

To manage the expectations of those who read newspaper theater reviews, it should be noted that reviewing theater productions for a newspaper has certain parameters.

There are format issues such as limited page space, and thus, limited word counts for each article.  There is also the issue of form.  A review is not an academic critique.  While reviewers sometimes touch on theories (performance, literary, etc.), a newspaper is not the venue for that particular kind of discourse.

Nonetheless, with the exclusion of online blog entries written by non-reviewers, it can be argued that this kind of "popular criticism" is one of the closest documented indicators of how and what audiences feel and think.

There are deadlines vis-à-vis short performance runs.  Productions usually run for only three to four weekends.  "Which often means when the review comes out, the play's gone," says Cadiz.

"Because of this, I consciously don't try to make my review as some sort of 'consumer guide' but something a bit higher-a discussion of more salient points other than whether the production deserved a thumbs-up, thumbs-down rating," he adds.

It should also be noted that, unlike newspapers in other countries such as the USA that have resident or in-house theater reviewers, Guerrero, Llamas and Cadiz are not full-time staff reporters for PDI.  This kind of set-up presumes that writing reviews may not always be the priority (whether by circumstance or by choice) for these writers.

Cadiz shares another limitation, "The Arts and Books subsection comes out only once a week, and theater has to fight for space with visual arts, the classical performing arts, heritage issues, books, etc.  Theater can't always be front and center of every issue."  Therefore, not every production ever staged can feasibly be reviewed, and reviewed extensively, even if we assume the reviewers and editors would want to.

It should also be noted that most of PDI's theater reviewers are based in Metro Manila and cover mostly Manila-based productions.

Their statements on how they evaluate productions reveal common thought processes.  Unlike average audience members who do not usually or can opt not to do any type of research prior to watching a show, these reviewers make it a point to learn about a production before they watch it.  They use whatever information they are able to gather as a basis to gauge their reactions and to inform their opinions.

Llamas says, "[Even though] I knew some of the basics of theater arts because of my college theater experience and appreciated the devotion that the practitioners pour into their craft, as soon as I started to write, as much as possible, I studied the background of the play I was reviewing-the context, the history, the social significance, the various interpretations over the years.

"Basically I need to know the material, what the play is about.  There were times when some theater companies offered me a copy of the script prior to the review, and that helped.  Second, I'd research on the art form that would interpret that material.  Then, of course, based on the theater groups' own pre-opening press releases, I'd get a sense of what the director wants to achieve with that particular piece.

"And that would be my beginning criterion:  how faithful was the director in executing that piece according to his vision (and not someone else's)?  How was the audience reaction? (If it was a children's play, I'd bring actual kids to the production and see how they reacted.)  How did all the elements come into play to fulfill or negate that vision?  Which contributed to its success, for example, the musicality, the art design?  Which brought it down, for example, miscast actors?"

Cadiz says, "Mostly, I look for an inner logic or consistency-how 'plausible' the material is, and not necessarily only on the realistic, naturalistic, slice-of-life level. Even farces, fantasies, expressionistic plays should operate on inner logic-the truth of what it's trying to say.

"I suppose I operate by instinct when it comes to what works for me-how well does the acting square with the material's requirements?, how is the direction able to bring to life the play?, etc. I always go back to my visceral reaction to it as I am watching the show. That becomes the scaffolding for whatever intellectual fleshing out I would do in my review-why did the play affect me the way it did, what elements helped bring about that which affected me or didn't, etc."

Beyond their basic evaluative process, all three reviewers articulate that they are aware of certain elements that influence and inform their ways of thinking and reviewing.

Guerrero points to his age and how it imbues his appreciation of what he sees on stage. "I'm 68 years old and, in some ways, very conservative in taste."

Llamas shares that there was a time when she had thought of attending "some kind of formal class on theater reviewing."  She says, "But what ultimately stopped me was the question of impartiality.  If I were to take up a course on theater criticism from this particular university, and this university happened to have a its own theater company, how much of my learning from their course might influence me later on to give them a more favorable review as opposed to reviewing another theater company whose inclinations may be different?  Or for example, if I took dramatic criticism from a mentor with very intense nationalistic leanings, would not his teachings influence my views when I review a Broadway musical?"

Cadiz has internal safeguards that constantly remind him of the place of local theater in relation to foreign practices and his own state of readiness when watching productions.  He says, "When appraising local works, I am cognizant of several facts: one, we can never approximate the production values of Broadway/West End productions, which means having to consider scaled-down works for what they are, and not in useless comparison with their counterparts in other countries. Two, we don't have extensive tryouts here, unlike abroad where shows are fine-tuned through weeks of out-of-town tryouts and previews before opening night. Here, the economy is much more severe: 2-3 months of rehearsal, 2-3 weekends of performance. Thus, I don't review preview performances, preferring instead to see the production when it has settled into its groove during the run, to give it a better chance. Three, whenever a production strikes me as bad, I make it a point to watch it again-because my negative reaction in the beginning might be attributable to outside factors like fatigue, unpreparedness, etc.

"In short, I am willing to give productions a long leash to prove themselves. I try not to write reviews to feel clever about myself or to bitch and nitpick; I come from a place of friendship, incongruous as that may sound. I am passionate about Philippine theater, and I want it to succeed. Whatever criticism I direct its way is the tough talk of a friend."

From these initial efforts at understanding the material as well as being aware of and analyzing their own reactions, these reviewers note that they extend the reach of their learning and research.  Llamas says, "I touched base with others who had gone ahead of me like Nicanor Tiongson or the late Doreen Fernandez and asked how they did it.  During the interviews with the theater people, I'd try to understand as best as I could how they approached their own craft and how they married their unique vision with that particular piece they were performing."

Cadiz says, "Before my professional stint reviewing theater I had spent about half my lifetime watching plays and musicals from the time I came to Manila City after college. I now view those endless voluntary nights spent theater-going as my preparation for this job. I supplement whatever knowledge I have through assiduous reading, research, familiarizing myself with the material, familiarizing myself with the theater companies behind the productions, doing close observation of the theater scene, etc. In short, never allowing myself to be out of the loop when it comes to this field."

Having seen as many productions as they have (easily at least 150 each) and having been involved in the enterprise of evaluating these productions beyond the level of what a "regular" audience might engage in, how do these reviewers perceive what "Filipino theater" or a "Filipino theater aesthetic" to be?

Guerrero puts it simply, "For me, a play about the Philippines or with Filipino characters, and written by a Filipino, whether in English, Filipino or in a regional language, is Filipino."

Llamas says, "The Filipino style of theater could refer to original material conceptualized and mounted by Filipino theater companies, or Philippine-centric interpretations given to foreign work like the way Rolando Tinio would deconstruct Macbeth, for example.

"That's one view, and chances are, the more Western-centric theater companies would take issue with it because aside from the usual Broadway musicals, there are original musicals in English written by Filipino authors like Trumpets' The Little Mermaid"

Cadiz says, "The 'Filipino' style of theater-I wouldn't know at this point since I haven't had extensive experience watching theater abroad. But I notice that Filipino performances have a very heart-on-sleeve style.  The sentiment is clear and clearly enunciated.  Strong emotions characterize most Pinoy plays I've seen. "

Where do we go from here?
As the Tanghalan! Conference aims to answer the question of what "Filipino theater aesthetic" is (and documenting these answers), these reviewers share their sentiments on the current state of reviewing in the country (in Metro Manila at least) and where they hope it will go.

Guerrero says, "Plays will come and go, a few becoming classics, and critics will come and go, reviewing, analyzing and interpreting each production based on their own perceptions."

Llamas says, "One thing that reviewers can use to augment their discipline is a formal course on dramatic criticism given by an organization that is not affiliated with any theater company in the Philippines.  Another would be scholarships that would give them exposure to the various theater industries in other countries, from Broadway, the West End, to the ASEAN countries.  We have to be able to see what's happening in the greater world to understand and see the place of our own theater community in it.  I'd probably recommend taking courses on dramatic courses outside the country and not just one but probably two-from two alternative schools of thought just to get a balance.

"In the absence of a formal theater course, a theater reviewer would simply have to rely on his own passion, diligence, and professionalism to survive and succeed.  At the same time, though, a theater reviewer's growth would also correlate with that of the community he reviews.  What makes theater exciting to review, at least for me, are the things one learns.  However, if for example, theater company A has been producing the same kind of plays and applying the same kind of interpretation in the past decade, and the only difference being the change in cast members, a theater reviewer would get the sense that he's just writing about the 'same-old' stuff.  And in that scene, the excitement can dissipate, and the growth in terms of learning does not happen."

Cadiz says, "The state of theater reviewing in the Philippines is woefully inadequate and inconsistent, both in terms of quality and regularity of appearance. No tradition of useful criticism so far.  I'd like to see more intelligent, engaged theater criticism to happen in the Philippines, and along with it, increased patronage by a thinking audience responding to such reviews--whether they agree with them or not."

What do you think of this conference? Share your comments.

Retrospective trilogy of Tony Perez plays opens Sept 30, 2011

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Yay! My article on the upcoming production of "Tatlong Tabing," a retrospective trilogy of Tony Perez's works was published by Philippine Daily Inquirer in its September 26, 2011 issue.

Since Tanghalang Pilipino is doing a retrospective of Perez's works, I thought I'd do a mini-retrospective of the articles I've written about him, kekeke!

In 2009, I interviewed Tony Perez when his play "Saan ba tayo ihahatid ng Disyembre" was about to be staged by Philippine Educational Theater Association in Feb of 2009. (I know, it was slightly confusing to watch a play with "Disyembre" in the title during February, kekeke).

I had so many notes from that interview that it resulted in two separate articles: One that talked about the "Disyembre" play (you can read it here) and, later on, an article that talked about his prolific writing, the development of his 40-volume (40!!!!) collected works, and his advice for playwrights (which you can read here).
Retrospective trilogy of Tony Perez plays opens Sept 30
By Walter Ang

Tony Perez
Tanghalang Pilipino will stage "Tatlong Tabing: Three Plays by Tony Perez," which includes "Sierra Lakes;" "Bombita;" and "Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko'y Mahal Kita."

"Perez has spent over two decades eloquently dissecting the Filipino psyche," says TP artistic director Fernando "Nanding" Josef.  "He's an important and prolific playwright in contemporary Philippine drama. His plays deal with adult themes such as intense love, betrayal, separation, compassion, poverty, hunger, marriage, birth, and death."

The plays featured in this trilogy trace the artistic development of Perez as a playwright.

"It was a consensus: three plays from three significant stages in my career as a playwright," says Perez. "'Sierra Lakes' from my early works, 'Bombita' from my first major trilogy of full-length plays dubbed 'Tatlong Paglalakbay;' and 'Nobyembre …' from my second major trilogy of full-length plays dubbed 'Indakan Ng Mga Puso.'"

Cast and collaborators
Cast of "Nobyembre..."
"Sierra Lakes" explores issues among four people caught in a complicated web of love and desire.

"Bombita" is a black comedy which questions the blind obedience and subservience of young rookies in the military.

"Nobyembre …" is a case study of the absence of love in an average, middle-class male in contemporary Philippine society.

"Sierra Lakes" and "Bombita" will be shown in a twinbill.  The twinbill will rotate in showing schedules with "Nobyembre …"

The three plays will feature TP's Actors Company, its pool of actors, both current members and several alumni.  TP subsidizes the training of all AC scholars, apprentices and members in acting, movement, dance, voice, script analysis, improvisation, directing and other related courses.

All three plays share collaborators: Tuxqs Rutaquio as production designer, Dennis Marasigan as lighting designer, and TJ Ramos as sound designer.  However, each play will have its own director: former Actors Company member Tess Jamias (Sierra), former TP artistic director Marasigan (Bombita), and Rutaquio (Nobyembre).

Painter, too
An exhibit of Tony Perez's paintings will also be mounted at the lobby of Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater), titled "Tony Perez: A Playwright Who Paints."

"They are also chronological and retrospective," says Perez.  "It includes chronological photo-portraits of me by Hedwig de Leon, a professional photographer. I will also include eight original manuscripts to be displayed in glass cases."

UST Publishing House has released several titles under the series "The Collected Works of Tony Perez," which compiles Perez's plays, essays, etc. and will reach 40 volumes.  Among those that have been released, volumes 1 to 4, 7 and 9 contain his plays.

Volume 2 includes "Sierra Lakes," volume 4 has the Tagalog version of "Bombita," and volume 9 has the English translation of "Bombita."

"Tatlong Tabing" runs from Sept. 30-Oct 23, 2011.  "Nobyembre …" runs Sept 30-Oct. 2 and Oct 15-2. The "Sierra Lakes/Bombita" twinbill runs Oct. 7-9 and 14-23. Call ahead to confirm at 0917-750-0107, 0918-959-3949, 218-3791, 832-3661, 832-1125 loc. 162. Rows of seats and entire shows can be bought at discount. Visit

Also published online:

Full schedule of the interchanging shows here:

What do you think of this production?

"Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure" opens on Sept. 29, 2011

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Yay! My article on Repertory Philippines' upcoming staging of "Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure" was published by Philippine Daily Inquirer for its Sept. 26, 2011 issue.

Due to space limitations, the editors lopped off several lines. But worry not, for I present to you all, the fully restored original version! (Restored lines in green.)

ERRATUM! My apologies, Gonzales did not design for Ballet Philippines' "Darna." The set designer was Boni Juan.
"Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure" opens on Sept. 29, 2011
By Walter Ang

Sam Concepcion as Peter Pan
The Asian premier of a new musical version of "Peter Pan" will be staged by Repertory Philippines and Stages Production Specialists starting Sept. 29.

Based on J.M. Barrie's book, "Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure" will feature Sam Concepcion in the title role and Michael Williams as Captain Hook.

The story revolves around the boy who refuses to grow up, his visit to the home of the Darling siblings Wendy, Michael and John; and how he takes them to Never Land.  There they have adventures with Tinkerbell the fairy, the Lost Boys, Indian sqaw Tiger Lily and her braves, mermaids, and Captain Hook's pirates.

The musical's book is by Willis Hall; music and lyrics are by award-winning duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe ("Honk!" and the Disney-Cameron Mackintosh "Mary Poppins").

Co-directors Jaime Del Mundo and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo have assembled a design team to bring the show to life.

Set design
Set design sketch by Gino Gonzales
The production will be using Flying by Foy flying systems.  The company is based in the US and its technicians will come to Manila to train the cast and crew on how to use and operate its systems.

Set designer Gino Gonzales knew from the get go that flying would be involved.  Since he's designed past productions that have involved flying, such as Ballet Philippines' "Darna," his first consideration was that he couldn't design pieces that were too high.

"Also, the set has to be many different locations," he says.  "From the nursery in the Darling family's home in London to many different places for Never Land's many inhabitants."

Michael Williams as Captain Hook
"Everything has to happen in one space," he says.  Given these parameters, Gonzales has created a "box made of shutters" for the all the action to happen in. He's also "adjusted" the very long length of the Meralco Theater's stage by adding legs (theater term for curtains or set pieces at the sides of a stage) to focus the action towards the center.

"When I studied the musical's script, I noted that there were very many transitions from one scene to another.  The way the music is written makes all the scene shifts very short.  So this kind of set design allows for suggestive props and scenic elements to convey the different locations.  Color will be conveyed through the costumes.  All the scene changes will also be done in front of the audience.  Part of the fun of watching this show is to allow your imagination to supplement what you see onstage."

Costume design
Raven Ong's sketches for pirate costumes
Populating Gonzales' set are the actors who will be dressed in costumes by Raven Ong.  Ong was recruited by Lauchengco-Yulo earlier this year when he did the costumes for Rep's "Shakespeare in Hollywood."

"Both directors were very specific with the look and approach that they want for the costumes," he says. "They gave me their directorial concept, ideas and adjectives for the feel that they want to achieve.  It's important to absorb and have the same vision as theirs.  I then balance off their considerations with the way how I want to attack it as the designer."

Ong relies heavily on research, using reference books he's acquired abroad.  He also watched existing Peter Pan films, both live action and animated.  "I needed to review what had already been done, to see different takes on these characters.  Part of it is to analyze why the designers came up with their particular designs."

Raven Ong's sketches
for Lost Boys costumes
"That's the challenge, how to re-create a classic. Something that you attempt to break but still needs to be acceptable to the audience.  People are familiar with the story, especially the cartoon version, so the costume designs cannot be too unfamiliar either."

Ong has created color-coded costumes for the characters "to make it easier for the audience to recognize characters."

"We are using seven sets of costume suppliers, each focusing on each character groups. One supplier focuses on the Londoner costumes; another on the Lost Boys costumes; another only on Mrs. Darling's Edwardian evening gown; another only on Captain Hook's full Baroque costume, and so on. I did this because each character group has its own feel."

Musical direction is by Jojo Malferrari; he will also conduct the live music for all performances.  Choreography is by Deana Aquino and lighting design is by John Batalla.

"Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure" runs Sept 29-Oct 30, 2011 at Meralco Theater, Ortigas Ave., Pasig City. Rows of seats or entire shows can be bought at discount. Contact 571-6926, 571-4941 or Tickets are also available at Ticketworld at 891-9999 or Visit, subscribe to, and add "Rep Phils" in Facebook.

Also published online:

What do you think of this production? Share your comments.

UPLB Thespian Circle's "Telon" Sept. 28-29, 2011

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Announcement from UPLB Thespian Circle

UPLB Thespian Circle
Tatlong kwento ng paghabing

“Fourteen” by Alice Gerstenberg
“Forbidden fruit” by George Jay Smith
“Mysteria” by Astrud Bernales

September 28-29, 2011
Seniors' Social Garden
University of the Philippines-Los Banos

Call 0906-455-1303.

What do you think of this production? Share your comments.

Some shows this weekend of Sept 23 Friday to Sept 25 Sunday 2011

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Some shows this weekend of Sept 23 Friday to Sept 25 Sunday 2011

This weekend only

Dulaang Laboratoryo's "Pulses" Sept 22-24, 2011

Ballet Philippines' "Inamorata" Sept 23-25, 2011

Closing this weekend
Ateneo Blue Repertory's "Black Prom" Sept 14-24, 2011

Opening this weekend
FREE ADMISSION "Unlimited Text" Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, 2011 (well, okay, opening next week)

Philippine Educational Theater Association’s “William” (until Sept 25, 2011)

Dulaang UP’s “Titus Andronicus” (until Oct 2, 2011)

Gantimpala Theater's "Sino Ka Ba Jose Rizal?" (until Oct 15, 2011)

Repertory Philippines’ “Seussical” (until Dec 18, 2011)

Upstart Productions' "Much Ado About Nothing"(until March 2011)

Opening soon
Tanghalin ang Tanghalan: Unang Pambansang Kumperensiya sa Estetika ng Dula
(First National Conference on Theater Aesthetics) Sept 28-29, 2011

Philippine Opera Company's "Ang Bagong Harana" Sept 29-Oct 1, 2011

Rep Philippines and Stages’ “Peter Pan: a musical adventure” Sept 29-Oct 30

Airdance's "Adarna" Sept 30-Oct 1, 2011

Tanghalang Pilipino' "Tatlong Tabing: Three Plays by Tony Perez" Sept 30-Oct 23, 2011

Atlantis Productions' "Next to Normal" re-run Oct 7-16, 2011
Please watch out for Theaterbator blog by Walter Ang's post on this show.

Resorts World Manila's "Sound of Music" Oct 15-Dec 11, 2011
Please watch out for Theaterbator blog by Walter Ang's post on this show.

What show/s will you watch? Share your comments.

Novy Bereber choregraphs for Ballet Philippines' "Inamorata" Sept. 23-25, 2011

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Ballet Philippines stages Inamorata
By Walter Ang
September 2011

Novy Bereber choreographs for
Ballet Philippines' "Inamorata"
Former Ballet Philippines choreographer and company member Novy Bereber is returning to choreograph a new piece for the company's production this September.

He will stage "Nanay" for "Inamorata," (Italian for "the beloved") a showcase of "classic and contemporary works about the women we love, presenting the many their facets" with works by different choreographers.

The production is part of BP's 42nd season (2010-2011) dubbed "The Faces of Eve," a celebration of the centennial of International Women's Day.

Other new works are choreographed by BP artistic director Paul Alexander Morales, BP resident choreographer Alden Lugnasin, and former BP artistic director Denisa Reyes.

Also choregraphing are Dance=Pull Dance Company artistic director Dwight Rodrigazo; Hong Kong-based choreographer and 2010 Gawad Buhay winner for Outstanding Choreography ("Shifting Wait") Carlo Pacis; and winner of BP's 2011 Choreographer's Cup, Don Adrian Obviar.

Each one will render a dance sketch of their muse, accompanied by sopranos Rachelle Gerodias and Camille Lopez-Molina, among others.

The show will feature costumes designed by top Filipino fashion designers Rajo Laurel, Lulu Tan Gan, Ito Curata and Jojie Lloren.

Despite the company's name, BP doesn't just focus on classical ballet; its dancers are trained in different forms.  Just last month, it restaged Agnes Locsin's neo-ethnic "Encantada," allowing the old work to be seen by new audiences and to be learned by younger dancers.

This notion of "passing on" is mirrored in Bereber's own revisiting to BP.  With his more than a decade's worth of experience as dancer, choreographer and teacher, he is sharing his exposure with the dancers via a dance style he's developed which he coins "Asian contemporary."

"As with all my pieces, style is dictated by subject matter; style and subject can never be separated. The OFW situation is a contemporary issue; the style of the dance is therefore contemporary. At the same time, this is an Asian issue.  I'm incorporating many gestures and movements from all the Asian genres: from folkloric Filipino traditions to Bollywood, from Thai classical dance to the constantly changing dance genres of Beijing Opera."

"'Nanay' is about all Filipino mothers who leave their children with their families as overseas workers. It's about the many levels of suffering caused by the OFW experience: the suffering of a mother who has to abandon her children; and the pain of the children."

Bereber's own mother was an OFW and left him to the care of his grandmother.  "This piece has so much emotional resonance for me; the passing earlier this year of my dear grandmother, who brought me up, has made it very emotional for me," he says.

"In addition, my piece is also about the 'nanay' of the mothers-they have to bring their grandchildren up, substituting as their mother.  She is burdened with having to explain to the children why their mother, her own daughter, is not there for them."

Around the world
Ironically, Bereber has not been able to pursue his career in dance without having to leave the country himself.

"I think it's incredibly sad that the enormously skilled and talented dancers produced by the Philippines find it difficult to work locally. They have to work in cruise ships or theme parks abroad.  Having lived and worked in Canada and Australia, I never cease to be amazed by how much support, financial and otherwise, is given to dancers by the government."

Born in Capiz, Bereber started out with Dagyaw dance company in his native Visayas region.  He later joined Ballet Philippines and has since worked in countries all over the world.  He performed in the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Vancouver, Canada and recently choreographed "Black Swan Apotheosis!" for the 2011 Sydney Mardi Gras.

Even as he dances his way around the world, he still consistently returns to Manila to create works for all the major dance companies including Ballet Manila and Philippines Ballet Theatre.  He's also done work for Dagyaw and contemporary dance company Airdance.

Other works
The classic pieces included in the show are from different ballets, all restaged by Victor Ursabia.

"The Dying Swan," choreographed by Mikhail Fokine for ballerina Anna Pavlova, set to the music of Camille Saint-Saens' "Le Cygne."

The comedic love pas de deux from "Harlequinade," to show women's wit and whimsy, choreographed by Marius Petipa with music by Riccardo Drigo.

The bravura pas de deux from "Flames of Paris," a ballet set in the French Revolution, choreographed by Vasily Vainonen with music by Boris Asafiev.

"Inamorata" runs for one weekend only, Sept 23-25, 2011, at Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater), Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City. Call 551-1003, 345-6601, 832-3704 or Ticketworld 891-9999. Visit

Bonus! Here's a video from Ballet Philippines about the show:

What do you think of this production? Share your comments.

Tanghalang Pilipino' "Tatlong Tabing: Three Plays by Tony Perez" Sept 30-Oct 23, 2011

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Announcement from Tanghalang Pilipino

Tanghalang Pilipino
"Tatlong Tabing: Three Plays by Tony Perez"
(Sierra Lakes; Bombita; Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko’y Mahal Kita)

Sept 30-Oct 23, 2011
Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater), Cultural Center of the Philippines

Tony Perez is an important playwright in contemporary Philippine drama. A prolific playwright with several volumes of published works, his plays deal with adult themes such as intense love, betrayal, separation, compassion, poverty, hunger, marriage, birth, and death. This trilogy traces his artistic development as a playwright.

Production designer: Tuxqs Rutaquio
Lighting designer: Dennis Marasigan
Sound designer:  TJ Ramos

Sierra Lakes
Sierra Lakes is a tension-filled play that explores issues among four people caught in a complicated web of love and desire.

Director: Tess Jamias
Bodie Cruz
Adrienne Vergara
Rayna Reyes
Dan Jarden de Guzman
Regina de Vera

Bombita is a black comedy which questions the blind obedience and subservience behaviour of young rookies in the military. Funny, but almost in a pathetic way, it reveals the emotional and intellectual shortcomings of our men in uniform.

Director: Dennis Marasigan
Acey Aguilar
Jelson Bay
Riki Benedicto
Martha Comia
Regina de Vera
Anthony Falcon
Russell Legaspi
Gino Ramirez
Jonathan Tadioan
Marco Viana

Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko Mahal Kita
A psychological drama, "Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko Mahal Kita" is the second play in Perez's thought-provoking trilogy about love, friendship and companionship, and their consequences in our lives ("Oktubre, Noong Tayo’y Nagmamahalan Pa’" is the first and "Saan Ba Tayo Ihahatid ng Disyembre?".

Director: Tuxqs Rutaquio
Mayen Estañero
Majorie Lorico
Jonathan Tadioan

September 30, 8:00 PM Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko’y Mahal Kita
October 1, 3:00 PM Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko’y Mahal Kita
October 1, 8:00 PM Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko’y Mahal Kita
October 2, 3:00 PM Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko’y Mahal Kita

October 7, 8:00 PM Sierra Lakes/Bombita
October 8, 3:00 PM Sierra Lakes/Bombita
October 8, 8:00 PM Sierra Lakes/Bombita
October 9, 3:00 PM Sierra Lakes/Bombita

October 14, 8:00 PM Sierra Lakes/Bombita
October 15, 3:00 PM Sierra Lakes/Bombita
October 15, 8:00 PM Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko’y Mahal Kita
October 16, 3:00 PM Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko’y Mahal Kita

October 21, 8:00 PM Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko’y Mahal Kita
October 22, 3:00 PM Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko’y Mahal Kita
October 22, 8:00 PM Sierra Lakes/Bombita
October 23, 3:00 PM Sierra Lakes/Bombita

Contact 0917-750-0107, 0918-959-3949, 218-3791, 832-3661, 832-1125 loc. 162.

What do you think of these productions?  Share your comments.

Airdance's "Adarna" Sept 30-Oct 1, 2011

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Announcement from Airdance

In celebration and thanksgiving for 10 fruitful years in the industry,
Airdance puts together a thrilling production that marries
dance, theater and music into a unique, multi-sensory experience
for both the performers and the audience.

a full-length Contemporary Dance-theater piece
based on the Filipino folk tale “Ibong Adarna”

September 30, 2pm, and October 1, 8pm, 2011
Henry Lee Irwin Theater, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City

Featuring the works of renowned artists Ava Villanueva, Rhosam Prudenciado Jr., Mia Cabalfin and Jed Amihan brought to life by the company members and apprentices of Airdance

Here is a video with excerpts of Airdance's recent performances in artistic shows and corporate events, featuring the choreography by Ava Maureen Villanueva, Avel Bautista, Rhosam Prudenciado Jr., Mia Cabalfin, Alfred Mercado, Nina Hayuma Habulan-Gelladuga, Novy Bereber, and Christine Crame-Santillan.

Contact 921-6842, 0916-356-6693 or

What do you think of this production?  Share your comments.

Theaterbatoring DUP's "Titus Andronicus"

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Earlier this year, I wrote about how 2011 is the year of the Titus Andronici and that Manila would have two stagings this year. I was able to catch the first Manila staging, a production directed by George de Jesus III, and, prior to that, was fortunate to have also caught a non-Manila staging by La Fura Dels Baus in Barcelona.

I was able to interview one of the lead actors for the second Manila staging by Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (a.k.a. Dulaang UP or DUP).  Over this past weekend, I was able to finally catch the show.

(A list of some of the characters and their transformed names for this production is here.)

thoughts on dup's "titus andronicus"
by walter ang
sept. 18, 2011

the bucoy-rutaquio adaptation/staging of "titus andronicus" is brilliant.

in its announcements, the show is described thus: "titus is now a hitman named carding and the play is set 'two weeks before the elections, where political chaos and religious frenzy intertwine in a world where politics, showbiz and a town feast drown the people in murky violence.'" its staging follows through, and then some.

with the production's layers upon layers of meaning, symbol, metaphor and sass, it's able to interweave quintessential pinoy ethos/pathos/bathos into shakespeare's text/plot in a way that works amazingly well. the production creates theater that is, with its staging choices, exciting and rousing, and, ultimately, theater that is, with its recontextualization of the source material and metaphors, astute, poignant and meaningful.

familiar and unfamiliar
bucoy's adaptation choices are clever and thoughtful.  they show a keen eye and accurate finger on the pulse of current filipino society's many ills and a sharp understanding of the inner workings of pinoy humor.

her provocative use of politics and its related shenanigans (dynasties, deception, distraction, delusion, all around debauchery and devolution, etc.) as the milieu and satirical use of showbusiness and local community pageantry resonate forcefully.

feudalism, impunity, corruption, violence, death resulting from several possible iterations (assassinations, murders, executions, etc.): the production forces your brain to loop into itself as it recognizes all this violence that real life desensitizes--the violence is reframed as it unfolds onstage, becoming strikingly (re)familiar.

half of your brain is amazed at how well these "local" and "modern" themes/scenarios fit so well into such an old text/plot; the other half of your brain is appalled at how much of these "fictive" themes/scenarios hew so closely to real life and how, apparently, human nature hasn't/doesn't change at all.

(and when you realize that this play's original setting is set in ancient rome prior to its fall and how this modernized version fits so well into its plot, you wonder what it tells us about our own country.)

merciless cutting
bucoy's imbibed the spirit of the play's numerous dismemberments and mercilessly cut shakepeare's text.

her large risks have paid off handsomely. her bold reshaping of the second act, reconfiguring the nurse's revelation of chua/aaron's affair/baby (semi-combining it with the whistleblowing/public shaming that titus does to saturninus), and finding a new way to get clarissa/lavinia's sons to carding/titus's home, is genius.

(though, i have to point out: her omission of the behanding of carding/titus asks interesting questions on why she chose to remove it.  that incident would have cast colorful symbolic shadows on carding's occupation as a hitman and, of course, it denies the audience that iconic scene of him putting his severed hand in salve/lavinia's tongueless mouth.)

laughter and horror
rutaquio has tasked most of the characters to react to the violence around them with such deadpan casualness that it layers an eerie feeling to the proceedings. onlookers immediately text each other about a shooting, deaths are not met with grief but instant alibis to cover up the guilty parties--violence as part of everyday life, so common that it's a source of entertainment or nuisance, rather than something that should be causing grief and horror.

a consciously deliberate preemptive strike against its own awareness of how excessive violence can turn absurdly ridiculous, the production achieves a delicate balance between delivering violent scenes and evoking dark humor. before your defense mechanisms can kick in with nervous laughter at the horrors onstage, the production cuts you off with its manipulative punchlines.

in one of her adapator's conceits, bucoy expands/transforms shakespeare's clown into a clown of death (instead of an angel of death). this creepy clown who comes, with his funky dance moves, to collect the souls of the victims, innocent or not.

there are also tv variety shows/game shows music interludes as scenes change, transforming these otherwise harmless happy tunes into creepy ominous tones.

this curious mix, these humor devices that build on this gruesome carnival that bucoy and rutaquio have created, makes the scenes that much darker, that much more real, that much more disturbing.

visual attacks
rutaquio also designed the set with a sly visual metaphor: a row of lamps staring at the audience, evoking disembodied breasts (or mute cyclops eyes, or both), that soon transform into string lights that punctuate scenes, a reminder of the carnivalesque world we have been thrown into/are trapped in.

animal-print blouses for tamora/clarissa symbolize, of course, of the wild and brutal animalism running through her veins.

the effects team does effective work with blood spurting and spraying liberally throughout the show, with cooking pots smoking menacingly. john batalla's dark lighting adds dread, though, as is his usual style, is sometimes so dark we can hardly see the actors' faces.

not just decorative, the use of video shorts works well and ties in with the goings on: it's a shrewd way to let us into the absurdities in this microcosm: from the prologue close up shots of meat being butchered, the opening video of a news report of a massacre scene that introduces armando/saturninus in a clown costume, to a climactic clip that's used as a blackmailing tool, and the concluding cautionary speech.

(and placing the screen on top of the audience is an interesting choice that works, obliterating the usual problems with projections getting washed out in a battle with stage lights.)

leeroy new's realistic-looking butchered pigs (you can almost smell the rancid meat) add a wonderful heft and visceralness to a crucial scene. from a symbolic/metaphorical viewpoint, those pigs are, in many ways, the whole point of this staging: kababuyan ng bayan.

intense suspense
the violence is the thing. and staging violence is always tenuous, what with the risk of it devolving into melodrama or camp, or both. there is none of that here.

the killings are cold, unflinching and brutal. and there is a wonderfully gruesome death-by-remote-control scene in the second act (which i think is the best murder scene onstage i have ever seen, at par with another death scene also crafted by bucoy--how does she come up with these ideas? she's like the stephen king/clive barker of filipino playwrights).

bucoy and rutaquio have pulled off a staging coup in their crafting of the mutilation scene of salve/lavinia. the actors' intensity combined with timing, black-outs, and a loud, roaring prop provokes intense menacing suspense and a frightening, thrilling wallop that ends the first act.

the actors navigate this complicated script/plot/adaptation/staging with aplomb. they are not swallowed by the complexity; instead, they give it its nuanced life and hurtle it inexorably to its conclusion.

hilarious are paolo cabanero as potty-mouth villain armando/bassianus and paolo o'hara as an almost endearingly charming chua/aaron.

nicco manalo and cris pasturan bring their usual powerful cackling electricity to their roles. they alternate as clown and nomer/demetrius. in the performance i saw, manalo played the clown and pasturan played nomer/demetrius, both are funny, creepy and intense.

shamaine centenera-buencamino plays clarissa/lavinia with a seriousness that adds a realistic gravitas to the character; you believe that this person exists in real life. [if i get a chance to catch alternate mailes kanapi, i will add my thoughts here.]

pockets of humanity attempt to break out in this relentless parade of gore: watch out for a sincere declaration of love staged together, in sharp contrast, to a marriage of convenience.

another conceit that bucoy adds is a dialogue between carding/titus and his son ryan/lucius where father contemplates the finer points of revenge to his son, using the cooking of dinuguan as metaphor.

it's easy to see the thought behind the construction of this scene: it's a poetic marker and foreshadowing of action, it's a poignant (if amoral) turning point for carding/titus, it's the audience's chance to peek into the insides of carding's/titus' mind.

unfortunately in the show that i caught, bembol roco buckled in his lines and failed to provide the cold intensity needed to make this potentially powerful scene fly.

the mystery
there are no attempts at lyricism in bucoy's translation (in relation to rhyming verses and iambic pentameters), because the poetry lies in her spot-on rhythms of the coarseness in her characters' vocabulary for its adapted setting.

so, i wonder, who decided to drop the originally proposed translated title of "tinarantadong asintado" when it fits so well for this staging and provides an apt introduction to the arching filipino flair that overflows from the work? (and in any case, isn't this the translator's prerogative?) bring it back.

another mystery is, why does one get so hungry after watching this show?  when there is this much onstage display of pigs and talk of dinuguan, what else is there to do after the show but order lechon paksiw for dinner? enjoy digesting this show. kekeke.

What do you think of this production? Share your comments.

Gantimpala Theater' "Ibong Adarna" Sept 18-Oct 8, 2011

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Announcement from Gantimpala Theater

Gantimpala Theater
Ibong Adarna
Gantimpala Theater presents the the tale of the elusive and enchanting “Ibong Adarna,” a play written by Ed Maranan based on the "Corrido* at Buhay na Pinagdaanan nang Tatlong Principeng Magkakapatid na Anak ng Haring Fernando at nang Reina Valeriana sa Kahariang Berbania," directed by Roobak Valle.

Three dons and brothers from the Kingdom of Berbania, Don Pedro, Don Diego and Don Juan, set out to capture Ibong Adarna, as commanded by their mother Reyna Valeriana, whose enchanted songs are the cure to their father's foreboding illness, Haring Fernando.

“Bringing life to Ibong Adarna on stage is always exciting for us. This Filipino folklore is filled with adventure and magic, dance, and lessons about finding oneself and the hero within, ” says GT artistic director Tony Espejo.

Cris Pastor as Maria Blanca
and Kristian Chua as Don Juan
“Playing Don Juan is homegrown Gantimpala actor Kristian Chua," says Espejo. "He was a summer workshopper, then became part of the Actors’ Company, trained and gained expertise in production work and acting. He was initially molded in our Four Classics as koro/taong bayan.  He is proof that we are doing our share in honing and training new theater artists."

“Being part of this production, regardless of the role that you’re playing, is something that you can really be proud of because of its magic and spectacle," says Chua.

Jay Gonzaga plays Don Pedro and Junjun Quintana plays Don Diego.

Choreography by Raul Nepomuceno Jr. based on
dances originally researched and choreographed by
the late National Artist Dance for Dance Ramon Obusan.

Live musical accompaniment by Maui Bayani, Smith Bitoon and JR Oga.
Lighting design by Andy Villareal

Performances are on
September 18, (7pm), at the Open Air Auditorium in Luneta, Manila;
September 23 and 24, September 30 and October 1 (10am/2pm), at the AFP Theater, in Quezon City; October 7 and 8 (11am/2pm), at the Cinema 3, SM Southmall, in Las Piñas City.

Gantimpala Theater’s Ibong Adarna is supported by the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), Jimm’s 7-in-1, The Skin Sanctuary and Everbilena.

Contact 899-5911 or 998-5622.

Visit: or

Philippine metrical romances, awit and korido in Tagalog, as defined by Dr. Damiana L. Eugenio, are long verse narratives on chivalric-heroic, religious, legendary and folkloric themes.

The terms 'awit' and 'corrido' are both related to music. 'Awit' is the Tagalog word for song while the Spanish word 'corrido' means "a metrical story, usually sung to the accompaniment of a guitar, in fandango style.

Korido is the generic name for Philippine romances. In Tagalog literature, an awit is distinguished from the korido basically by the number of syllables in each line. The korido refers to metrical romances in octosyllabic (8 syllables) verse called 'hakira' while the awit is in dodecasyllabic (12 syllables) verse called 'plosa.'

Epifanio de los Santos refers to the awit as "chivalric-heroic" poems while corridos are "legendary and religious poems." Gabriel Bernardo on the other hand finds the distinction more in the music to which the romances are often set and in the amount of time the reader takes in singing or reciting it. "The awit is set to music in andante or slow time; the corrido, in allegro or hurried time." Further, Bernardo believes that "the awit is read mainly for the quality of its thoughts and for its beauty and sweetness of expression; the corrido, mainly for the plot of the story it tells."

Jose Villa Panganiban and Consuelo T. Panganiban suggest a distinction in terms of the source of the story it tells; the corrido is based on an existing tale or legend from European countries while the awit is a story fabricated from the imagination of the writer although the setting and characters are still European.

They are inclined to believe, however, that the two terms refer to one and the same type of narrative poetry, except that the name ‘awit’ was later given to it when it was chanted or sung and ‘corrido’ when it was merely narrated.

Except for the length of the verses, which is only observed in Tagalog romances, Dr. Eugenio finds no other valid distinction between the awit and korido. Both are read for the story they tell as much as for their imaginative devices.

What do you think of this production? Share your comments.

Some shows this weekend of Sept 16 Friday to Sept 18 Sunday 2011

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Some shows this weekend of Sept 16 Friday to Sept 18 Sunday 2011

This weekend only
Young Artist Productions' "Hercules 12" Sept 14-15, 2011

Artistang Artlets' "Tikom" Sept 14-16, 2011

Philippine Ballet Theater’s “Cinderella” Sept 15-18, 2011

Closing this weekend
Atlantis Productions' "In the Heights" (until Sept 18, 2011)

Opening this weekend
Ateneo Blue Repertory's "Black Prom" Sept 14-24, 2011

Dulaang UP’s “Titus Andronicus” Sept 14-Oct 2, 2011

Philippine Educational Theater Association’s “William” (until Sept 25, 2011)

Gantimpala Theater's "Sino Ka Ba Jose Rizal?" (until Oct 15, 2011)

Repertory Philippines’ “Seussical” (until Dec 18, 2011)

Upstart Productions' "Much Ado About Nothing"(until March 2011)

Opening soon
Dulaang Laboratoryo's "Pulses" Sept 22-24, 2011

FREE ADMISSION "Unlimited Text" Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, 2011

Tanghalin ang Tanghalan: Unang Pambansang Kumperensiya sa Estetika ng Dula
(First National Conference on Theater Aesthetics) Sept 28-29, 2011

Philippine Opera Company's "Ang Bagong Harana" Sept 29-Oct 1, 2011

Rep Philippines and Stages’ “Peter Pan: a musical adventure” Sept 29-Oct 30

Airdance's "Adarna" Sept 30-Oct 1, 2011
Please watch out for Theaterbator blog by Walter Ang's post on this show.

Tanghalang Pilipino' "Tatlong Tabing: Three Plays by Tony Perez" Sept 30-Oct 23, 2011
Please watch out for Theaterbator blog by Walter Ang's post on this show.

Atlantis Productions' "Next to Normal" re-run Oct 7-16, 2011
Please watch out for Theaterbator blog by Walter Ang's post on this show.

Resorts World Manila's "Sound of Music" Oct 15-Dec 11, 2011
Please watch out for Theaterbator blog by Walter Ang's post on this show.

What show/s will you watch? Share your comments.

FREE ADMISSION "Unlimited Text" Sept. 26, 2011

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19 actors + 5 scenes + 1 roof
Curated by Ana Abad Santos

"A fun-raising project"
Hat will be passed after the show
for the benefit of Philippine Theater Actors Guild.

Celebrate the actor and the text,
the wealth and diversity of talent in Philippine theater
and the power of adaptation.
All in the spirit of fun.

Sept. 26 and Oct 3, 2011 9pm
Taumbayan Restaurant
40 Gener St. corner K-1st St., Kamuning, Quezon City
(Gener St. is perpendicular to E. Rodriguez Blvd.)

From Anton Chekhov's UNCLE VANYA
Scene: Helena, Sonya and Astrov

On a decaying farm, Uncle Vanya and his niece Sonya suffer a thankless job to sustain an estate in decline. Now, Professor Serebryakov and his wife Helena have returned to visit, bringing with them chaos and disruption. Constant visits from the charismatic Astrov are not helpful. From this tumultuous mess grows three consuming love affairs, each of which is destined to wither in disappointment before it has reached bloom.

Adapted and Directed by: George de Jesus III
Cast: Gwyn Guanzon, Jojit Lorenzo, Red Concepcion, Gabriel Santos

From Aaron Sorkin's THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Aaron Sorkin's THE SOCIAL NETWORK chronicles the rise of Harvard computer-tech MarkZuckerberg as he creates the now globally famous website Facebook. In the opening scene, Mark argues with his soon-to-be-ex girlfriend Erica about his need to be accepted to one of Harvard's exclusive final clubs. After insulting her several times, Erica dumps Mark and walks out of the bar. Just like that he's 0 for 2; he doesn't have a girlfriend and he's not a final clubs member. These are the two main driving forces of Mark's character. His pursuit of creating the site, at all costs, is a way to win the approval of a woman he scorned. Facebook is Mark's own exclusive club and he is the President.

Directed by: JoMari Jose
Cast: Topper Fabregas, Jenny Jamora

John Patrick Shanley's DOUBT: A PARABLE

In a Bronx Catholic school in 1964, a popular priest's ambiguous relationship with a troubled 12-year-old black student is questioned by the school's principal.

Directed by: Jake Macapagal
Cast: Paolo O'Hara, Roselyn Perez


MAY KATWIRAN ANG KATWIRAN, by National Artist for Theater Rolando S. Tinio, looks at the relationship between the Senyor (landowner) and his Kasama (peasant). The play was written in 1972 and described by the playwright as "Dulang may Labingwalong Tagpo at Labindalawang Awit" (Play with Eighteen Scenes and Twelve Songs) . In the prologue, the playwright, in true Brechtian fashion, guides the audience in viewing the play, thus "Huwag amen nang amen sa iaasal ng mga tauhan sa aming dula. Huwag sabihing 'Ganyan ang buhay!' Sa halip, laging itanong-- 'Dapat bang ganyan?' Pakialaman kung makatwiran ang kanilang pangangatwiran. Maging mapanuri sa kanilang karanasan."

Directed by: Joel Saracho
Cast: Peter Serrano, Neil Tolentino

Yasmina Reza's ART

ART was originally written in French by Yasmina Reza and adapted in English by ChristopherHampton. It is a play about three men who have remained friends through the years and how they find their friendship on shaky ground after one of them buys a painting, a white canvas with white lines. The painting triggers arguments about many issues that have not been discussed before, and little by little these men start to reevaluate themselves, their relationships and their trust in one another.

This version was adapted and modernized. Aside from that, the characters' genders were changed into females. It is a contemporary take on friendship, ego, taste, tolerance, conflict and art.

Adapted and Directed by: Bea Garcia
Cast: Delphine Buencamino, Reg de Vera, Clyde Enriquez

What do you think of this production? Share your comments.

Dulaang Laboratoryo's "Pulses" Sept 22-24, 2011

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Announcment from Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas' Dulaang Laboratoryo

Dulaang UP's Dulaang Laboratoryo
a new play for awareness and acceptance of HIV
(inspired by accounts of people living with HIV)

An acting recital/thesis production of
Celine Fernando, Cacai Hernandez and Gry Gimena

Written by Icarus and Iscariot
Direction by Pat Valera

Sept 22 Thurs 7pm
Sept 23 Fri 7pm
Sept 24 Sat 3pm and 7pm

Paul Jake Paule, Jules dela Paz, Nicco Magno, Elora Espano and Al Garcia

Lights Design | Meliton Roxas
Music | Teresa Barrozo
Original Songs | William Elvin Manzano & Fitz Bitana
Choreography | Katte Sabate and Al Garcia
Stage Design | Sigmund Pecho
Video Design | Aaron Misayah

Dulaang Laboratoryo is under Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas.  It stages the thesis productions of the students taking certificate and/or degree programs in Theater Arts under the university's Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts.

Tanghalang Hermogenes Ylagan, Faculty Center
University of the Philippines, Quezon City

Contact 0905-274-4318

What do you think of this production? Share your comments.

Crafting plays about Rizal and Shakespeare

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Yay! My article on Ron Capinding's current works as a playwright was used by Philippine Daily Inquirer for its Sept. 12, 2011 issue.

Due to space limitations, the editors lopped off several lines. But worry not, for I present to you all, the fully restored original version! (Restored lines in green.)
Crafting plays about Rizal and Shakespeare
By Walter Ang

Theatergoers are familiar with Ronan "Ron" Capinding as an actor.  He's been in productions for Tanghalang Ateneo (Iago in "Othello"), Dulaang UP (Mary Stuart) and Virgin Labfest (Suor Clara).

What they may not know is that he's also a playwright.  Capinding has devised two productions that aim to make two different "classic" figures and their work more accessible to younger audiences: Philippine Educational Theater Association's "William" and Tanghalang Ateneo's "Para Los Jovenes: Mga Kuwentong Pangkabataan ng Nakatatandang Rizal."

Rap, hip-hop
Capinding is no stranger to Shakespeare's work as he's played lead characters from Romeo to Shylock.  For Peta's 44th season opener, he uses this experience to craft a play that uses rap, hip-hop and fliptop to introduce the Bard's immortal characters to young audiences.

"William" (referencing Shakespeare's name) is about a group of high school students who are forced to study the Bard and later realize the beauty of his works while discovering themselves through his characters.

"Rap is one of the closest simulation of delivered poetry," he says.  "Fliptop, a fiery debate in rap, is the modern version of Balagtasan (verse duels), and it's very popular with teenagers, as revealed by the hits in You Tube."

"One of the main objectives of the play is to present how these Filipino-speaking youngsters reconcile with Shakespeare's English.  It also touches on themes of adolescence, parents' unconditional love, and friendship. It advocates a love for reading and appreciating literature - Shakespeare or otherwise."

Video games, mixed martial arts
For his "home" theater group, Tanghalang Ateneo, he's written (in a similar vein to Wiliam) about a group of college students who start off complaining about having had to study Rizal's novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo in high school, which they contend are not for young readers.

They then present four of Rizal's children's stories and execute them "in forms that appeal to the young of today like game shows, talk shows, reality shows, mixed martial arts, anime, video games, sexy scenes, violent scenes, musical a la-Glee, etc."

The title Capinding has coined is deliberate in its contradictory stance of using a foreign language to describe "stories (that are supposed to be accessible by and) for the youth" and serves as an overview of how his play questions preconceived notions of Rizal's stories.

"I'll be staging the stories in a way that aims to disturb and provoke teenagers and young adults.  Hopefully, the styles of presentation will most likely rouse audience's appreciation for Rizal. And, also, their guilt of needing to be babied."

Eschewing labels
Because of his long-term involvement with TA (where he is resident director, actor, translator, choreographer and workshop instructor), Capinding has had more experience in translation of classic plays.  He notes that his work in translation has helped him "significantly in understanding how the classic and celebrated plays work."

He's written several one-act plays that have been performed in-campus, though not yet staged commercially/professionally.  He has devised the scripts, in both English and Filipino, of "Recoged Esta Voz (Tipunin Itong Taghoy)," a play that used Miguel Hernandez's poems, and "Sepharad: Voces de Exilio," a play inspired by the novel by Antonio Munoz Molina.

"I've always been a 'deviser'--devised plays being ones that owe most of their lines to other previously existing texts; scripts that need to cite many sources," he says.

"Devising is more in the realm of directing, when a director uses a non-play text to come up with something dramatic and worth watching. The director can use and translate into performance the text of a telephone directory, a cook book or a lab report, and, by his capacity to bring out the irony, organic unity, dramatic arch in the performance of these texts, he produces a play."

"But this doesn't mean that the authors of those non-play texts have accidentally and unwittingly become playwrights or play devisers.  Those who intend to write plays for directors to stage, whether they use existing sources or just their intuition, are playwrights."

"I just write plays.  I bring out things that I've gathered through experiences, conversations, studying, and/or research. With my experience as an actor, I see and hear the characters as I am writing them.  I also know what lines roll well in the tongue.  With my experience as a teacher, I am very conscious of my audience.  I know what line or picture or action will move them, make them laugh, make them think.

"I usually write my thoughts randomly until I feel irritated by the mess and organize them into cohesive scenes.  Then I set a whole day or night to complete a first draft.  Then I'll read it again and again, put improvements here and there, as long as I am allowed to.  I think I can forever improve a play; it's only the deadline that makes me stop.

"I always print hard copies so I can write notes in the margins, underline things, encircle parts, transfer portions with arrows, revise word choices, anytime, anywhere. Then I print the revised version, and the process goes on.  I love 'interacting' with hard copies."

For both these plays, Capinding added a step to his usual writing process: testing it on his own children.  "The stories I used for 'Para Los Jovenes' are stories that my kids loved.  My 11-year old daughter loved 'William' when she read it but my seven year old son still would rather play with his toy cars."

Peta's "William" runs until Sept 25, 2011 at Peta Theater Center, 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City. Contact 725-6244 or 410-0821, 0917-5765400 or 

Tanghalang Ateneo's "Para Los Jovenes" runs Sept 21-24, 2011 at the 3rd floor of Gonzaga Hall, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. Contact 0927-752-2027.

Also published online:

What do you think of the process of devising? What do you think of these two productions? Share your comments.