Jay Españo Does Movement for 'At The Flash'

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Yay! My article on the production of "At The Flash" presented by Pride Films and Plays was published in www.broadwayworld.com on Dec. 6, 2012.

Jay Españo Does Movement for 'At The Flash'
By Walter Ang

Jay Españo
Chicago, December 6, 2012 — Former Tanghalang Pilipino actor Jay Españo has taken assistant director and movement coordinator responsibilities in the recently opened "At the Flash," a one-actor, five-character play that condenses LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) history from the 1960s to the 2000s.

Written by Sean Chandler and David Leeper, this comedy features a closeted man in the 1960s, a black drag queen in the 1970s, a club kid in the 1980s, a budding lesbian activist in the 1990s, and a family man/entrepreneur in the 2000s as they relate their stories in the gay club The Flash.

For its world premiere, presented by Pride Films and Plays (PFP), co-playwright Leeper stars under the direction of David Zak, PFP's executive director.

Leeper's acting credits include roles in David Mamet's "Oleanna" and Lanford Wilson's "Fifth of July."

Españo collaborated with the Leeper and Zak to create distinct physical silhouettes, mannerisms, and behavior for each of the five characters. Españo received his yoga teaching certification in Singapore and has a graduate certificate in Laban Movement Analysis from Columbia College, Chicago.

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'Nutcracker' ballet gets modern treatment

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Yay! My article on the upcoming production of "Nutcracker Swit" by Myra Beltran's Dance Forum was published in www.abs-cbnnews.com on November 22, 2012.

'Nutcracker' ballet gets modern treatment
By Walter Ang

Ballet audiences are familiar with "The Nutcracker" as it is usually staged during the year-end holidays.

Set to Peter Tchaikovsky's music and originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, the ballet's libretto is based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King."

The story is about a girl who receives a nutcracker carved in the shape of a soldier on Christmas Eve. After she goes to bed, the Nutcracker comes to life and battles the evil Mouse King. The Nutcracker transforms into a handsome prince and takes the girl to the Land of Sweets where she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy and different sweets from around the world.

Tchaikovsky's score has been given other ballet choreographies, such as by George Balanchine in the US and Noordin Jumalon (after Petipa and Ivanov) in the Philippines. Local companies sometimes set the production design in a Filipino setting.

The story has been remade into other mediums such as film, including excerpts in Disney's "Fantasia" and even a Barbie movie.

A new Filipino contemporary dance version of "The Nutcracker" presented by Myra Beltran’s Dance Forum takes off from a similar point: paper dolls of American icons.

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UP performing groups win at int’l fests

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Yay! My article on the international performances of several performing groups from University of the Philippines was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer's November 5, 2012 issue.

University of the Philippines performing groups win at int’l fests
By Walter Ang

UP Concert Chorus
University of the Philippines Concert Chorus has won three awards on the international scene: 1st Prize in the Folk category of the Festival Internacional de Musica de Cantonigros in Vic, Spain; and the gold diploma and the Audience Prize (People’s Choice Award) at the 9th Cantemus International Choir Festival at Nyíregyháza, Hungary.

In Spain, the group sang “Kruhay” (Beny Castilon); “Pasigin” (arranged by Eudenice Palaruan); and “Ilay Gandangan” (Rodolfo Delarmente) for the Folk category.

The contingent had 28 singers and one pianist. The chorus, celebrating its 50th anniversary, was led by director Jai Sabas-Aracama.

In Hungary, under the baton of president and assistant conductor Emmanuel de Leon Jr., the group sang “Ama Namin” (John August Pamintuan); “Jezus es a Kufarok” (Zoltán Kodály); and “Ilay Gandangan.”

For the Folk concert, the basis for the Audience Prize, Sabas-Aracama led the choir in singing “Gabaq-An” (Ruben Federizon), “Pasigin” and “Kruhay.”

“At the gala concert and awarding ceremony, UPCC performed a tribute to the King of Pop, Eman de Leon, where it received a rousing standing ovation from the audience and festival participants of nearly 2,000 people from all over the world,” says Sabas-Aracama.

The group had performed in several cities in the US before joining the festival in Spain. From September to October, it will give performances in Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Malaysia and Singapore.

UP Arco String Ensemble
UP Arco String Ensemble, after a struggle to raise funds, made it after all to the Festival International de Music Universitaire in Belfort, France.

It was the first time a Filipino group had joined the festival.  Under musical director Edna Martinez, the group was composed of 27 students, all majors of the Strings and Chamber Music Department of the UP College of Music.

Before the festival, Arco performed twice in Paris, at Saint Bernadette Church, organized by the Philippine Catholic Mission in France; and at Unesco Miollis Building, hosted by the Philippine Embassy in France.

After the festival, Arco also performed in Geneva, Switzerland, at Notre Dame Church.
Robert Belot, Belfort’s vice mayor and the city’s cultural head, said the group “has fine quality sound, [is] technically adroit, and brought to the festival something unique and fresh.”

Arco’s repertoire included the Tsaikovsky Serenade for Strings; Serenade for Strings by Elgar; and Concerto Grosso by Corelli. Filipino masterpieces Rombino from the Children’s Quartet by Bueneventura and Buencamino’s Pizzicato Caprice were also performed.

“In its second and last concert at Belfort, the audience gave a prolonged feisty applause and standing ovation,” says Ruben Defeo, head of the UP Diliman Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts. “UP Arco had to reciprocate the warm reception by giving two encores. The organizers invited UP Arco to render another concert on the last day of the festival.”

Scene from "Screen: Macbeth"
UP's Department of English and Comparative Literature’s production of “Screen: Macbeth” was performed at National Taiwan University, Taipei, for the 6th Conference of the NTU Shakespeare Forum.

This production of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” premiered last year and features video projections as part of its staging, thus the inclusion of the word “Screen” in the title.

The conference theme “Shakespeare across Media” aimed to explore how Shakespeare had been translated in various forms of media.

“The production’s use of film fitted the conference theme superbly,” says cast member Ricky Abad.
The contingent had seven actors in multiple roles, with direction by Anton Juan; dramaturgy by Judy Ick (who also played Lady Macbeth); technical direction by Meliton Roxas; and video design by Winter David.

“The show was received very well. The organizers were pleased, and look forward to more Philippine participation in the future. The biggest achievement, I think, was that ‘Screen: Macbeth’ identified the Philippines as the Asian country that could do Shakespeare in English well. The acting was praised. It was deemed passionate.”

For details of UP Concert Chorus’ touring performances, visit www.upconcertchorus.org or call 9296963, 9818500, 0927-4284629 or 0917-6283739.

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British dance company does outreach in the Philippines

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Yay! My article on British dance companies doing charity work in the Philippines was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer's October 15, 2012 issue.

British dance company does outreach in the Philippines
By Walter Ang

Photo by Ige Ramos.
Hope for Children
Philippine representative Kevin Connolly,
DanceAid founder and CEO Laura Wilson,
Pangarap Shelter for Street Children
resident Erick Soberano,
Flava lead member Kyle Richardson,
Big Dance Company founder Fiona Richardson,
Pangarap Shelter for Street Children
executive director Br. Francisco Tanega.
Big Dance Company (BDC), based in Cornwall, England, sent a delegation to Manila for outreach and interaction activities with three charity groups that assist street children.

The group spent a day visiting the Philippine Community Fund (PCF) School in Tondo; Childhope Asia Philippines in Paco; and Pangarap Shelter for Street Children in Pasay.

The group gave workshops, performances, and danced with the children.

BDC founder Fiona Richardson said: “We can’t save the world with our dance outreach, but we can help get rid of a lot of ignorance, we can help build compassion.”

Reaching out
BDC first visited the country in 2010 upon the invitation of Shirley Halili Cruz, whom the group met at the Dance Excellence festival for young dancers in Los Angeles in 2009, to participate in the annual Dance Xchange Philippine International Dance Festival.

BDC brought over its most popular dance group, Flava, a hip-hop group which was a semifinalist in “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2008.

BDC visited children on the Smokey Mountain dumpsite in Tondo for an outreach with Philippine Community Fund, a charity group founded by British national Jane Walker.  BDC has returned annually since to conduct outreach activities at the site.

Flava has won competitions and represented the UK at the World Hip-Hop Championships. Last year it performed with Halili Cruz Ballet Company in Cornwall.

BDC works with young people in the UK to tackle antisocial behavior and gun and knife crime.

This year
This year BDC brought over a group of younger dancers.

“Some of the Flava dancers came, but we included dancers from Tricky Crew, our under-14 group, and Sweet Flava, our girl group.  The youngest in our group this year is 11 years old.  It’s important to let young people see what’s going on in the world,” said Richardson.

With BCD this year is UK-based DanceAid, a charity group that raises funds for charities through dance-related activities such as performances.

Laura Wilson, founder and CEO of DanceAid, said: “BDC is one of the many dance schools working with DanceAid to raise the UK to its feet to dance to make a difference for suffering children in the UK, Africa and Asia.”

“[Laura] knew we would be performing in Manila, and thought that we might want to help them out, and we have been ever since,” said Richardson.  “I am hoping to plan a big project next year with these charities to help more and get these talented young people on a stage with a captive audience.”

Ongoing aid
Wilson, who has a master’s degree in Conflict, Governance and Development from the University of York, founded DanceAid as a way to bring together her passions in developmental work and dance.
“We were inspired by the work being done by another charity we work alongside, Hope for Children,” said Wilson.

Among other projects for Manila charities, Hope for Children collects donations for PCF’s school (built from recycled shipping containers), which gives free education to street children in the Smokey Mountain area; for Pangarap Shelter for Street Children, a shelter and recovery center for homeless and at-risk boys aged 8-17 years; and for Childhope Asia Philippines’ Street Education Program, where 20 full-time street educators are deployed to teach street children on-site.

Hope for Children’s projects in the Philippines are monitored by its representative Kevin Connolly, who has been living here since 1996.

This was Wilson’s first time in Manila.  She came over to help set up funding protocols from DanceAid to its Hope for Children Manila charities.

“We visited to see what the situation is here, and how DanceAid can help more and organize a DanceAid day for the children, who, we already know, love to dance!”

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Tanghalang Pilipino’s silver anniversary coffee-table book now available

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Yay! My article on Tanghalang Pilipino's silver anniversary coffe-table book was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer's October 8, 2012 issue.

Tanghalang Pilipino’s silver anniversary coffee-table book now available
By Walter Ang

Tanghalang Pilipino has produced a coffee-table book, “Tanghalang Pilipino: Celebrating 25 Years of Philippine Theater,” to commemorate its recently concluded silver anniversary.

Spearheaded by  artistic director Fernando “Nanding” Josef and written by Inquirer contributing writer Amadis Ma. Guerrero, the 171-page hardcover features a jacket with the image of actress Noemi Manikan-Gomez in costume as the character Angelita from “Dalagang Bukid,” the company’s inaugural production in June 1987.

Her photo is stylized with sketches of the production’s set design in a manner that recalls the style of TP founding artistic director Felix “Nonon” Padilla’s woodprint designs for many of the company’s early souvenir-program covers.

The book is divided into chapters which “deal with material that provided the company with its unique identity.”

It begins with the group’s history; its objectives of “developing a national theater [group] that would develop original Filipino plays and mount translated foreign works”; and the rationale behind its original and updated logos.

The different theater forms that TP has staged are discussed: sarsuwela (the indigenized Filipino theater form “with songs and dances” that evolved from the Spanish zarzuela); original musicals (with subject matter or themes that range from historical pieces and films to indigenous epics and oral-narrative chants; and even comic-book gender-changing superheroines), and plays that mirror societal issues (from political milieus to personal relationships and everything in between).

Guerrero gives summaries and histories of selected scripts or librettos; quotes from interviews with the productions’ respective directors and other collaborators; and excerpts of reviews published at the time of the productions.

The book reveals the inner workings and processes undergone by the backstage disciplines, featuring composers, translators, set designers, costume designers, and lighting designers who have worked on TP productions.

The book concludes with a section that showcases the actor, specifically the kind of actor molded in the TP spirit.

Padilla’s creation of the Actors Company (AC), the group’s pool of resident actors who perform in season productions and continuously train in performance methods, has since been one of the defining elements of TP.

Josef was part of the pioneer batch of AC (personally invited by Padilla). Former TP artistic director Herbert “Herbie” Go was also an AC member.  Other former AC members have gone on to acclaim as actors for stage, TV and film, or administrators of other theater groups.

Call 8321125 loc. 1620-21, 0917-7500107, 0918-9593949, 2183791. E-mail tanghalangpilipinomarketing@yahoo.com.ph.

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Tony-winner David Gallo designs set of "Nine"

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Yay! My interview with David Gallo, the set designer of Atlantis Productions' "Nine," was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer's October 3, 2012 issue.

Tony-winner David Gallo designs set of "Nine," closes Oct. 7
By Walter Ang

Gallo's computer sketch of his set design for "Nine."
Atlantis Productions' staging of the musical "Nine" features a set designed by Tony Award winning set designer David Gallo.

"Nine," based on Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film "8½," focuses on Italian filmmaker Guido Contini, who, dreading his imminent 40th birthday, gets entangled in a web of romantic difficulties in early-1960s Venice.

With book by Arthur Kopit and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, the musical was made into a movie in 2009, directed by Rob Marshall (“Chicago”) and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Contini.

Directed by Bobby Garcia, Atlantis’ “Nine” features Jett Pangan as Contini with an ensemble of popular theater actresses, recording artists, and TV/film actresses: Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo plays Contini’s wife, Cherie Gil plays his film producer, Eula Valdez plays his muse, Carla Guevara-Laforteza plays his mistress, Ima Castro plays a prostitute he encounters, and Jay Glorioso plays his mother.

Gallo met Garcia in Broadway Asia Entertainment’s touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” in the late ’00s, where he designed the set while Garcia directed. The show opened in Manila and toured several Asian countries.

“I’ve always enjoyed working in the Philippines, so naturally when he rang me asking if I was interested in working on the production of the great musical ‘Nine,’ I jumped at the chance,” Gallo says.

Based in the US, Gallo worked with Atlantis’ production staff via the Internet. “[Since] it’s become the norm to design shows almost entirely using technology, most of the things I design are communicated via the Internet. Everyone can open and share even the largest files with ease.”

The only drawback, Gallo notes, is the loss of personal interaction, though a situation that’s mediated by this familiarity with Garcia.

“Theater is a business of emotion and feeling. It’s then that having a great bond with someone such as Bobby truly pays its dividends.”

Gallo has not seen the film version and has only seen one staging “many years ago.” He emphasizes the need to “approach every project as a new beginning.”

He researched on various bath houses and spas around the world. “I found some particularly interesting images from India, which I was then able to spin into a Viennese look. I find that capturing a feeling, a mood or style is more important than attempting to replicate a place, either real or imagined.”

“One of the interesting things about being a scenic designer is the fact that every production naturally finds its own way to a particular style.”

Costumes are designed by New York-based Filipino fashion designer Robin Tomas.

“Nine” runs until Oct. 7, at Carlos Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza Bldg., Makati. Call  8927078, 8401187 or Ticketworld at 8919999.

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Tanghalang Pilipino's suspense thriller 'Walang Kukurap' runs until Oct. 7

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Yay! My article on Tanghalang Pilipino's upcoming production of "Walang Kukurap" was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer's September 24, 2012 issue.

Tanghalang Pilipino's suspense thriller 'Walang Kukurap' runs until Oct. 7 
By Walter Ang

Scene from 'Walang Kukurap.'  Photo by Erickson Dela Cruz,
grabbed from https://www.facebook.com/enrico.dc3/info
Tanghalang Pilipino is staging "Walang Kukurap," a suspense thriller about the pervasive shady politics and unethical business practices in the Philippines today.

Suzette Ranillo plays Cristina, a first-time vice mayor candidate who is sucked into corruption, deceit and murder.

"We always connect corruption with the big fish, like the case of former Chief Justice [Renato] Corona as an example, but what's more frightening are the corruption done by the `small fish'—the towns and barangay, the grass roots," says TP associate artistic director Tuxqs Rutaquio, who is directing the production.

Written by Layeta Bucoy, the title is a play on words, with kurap homophonous to "corrupt," explains Rutaquio, as well as a play on notions of vigilance.

The material started off as a devised performance piece by TP's Actors Company, its resident pool of actors. "As a group, we started asking ourselves, Why do we want to do a play about corruption? We recounted incidents of corruption experienced by us, or ones we heard from family and friends. Those accounts became the basis for our first draft."

From personal experiences, the group moved on to interviewing other individuals who had experiences with corruption.

The group spoke with Jun Lozada, government-anomaly whistleblower in 2008, and the nun who helped protect him after his revelation, Sis. Mary John Mananzan, women's advocate and former St. Scholastica's College president.

"We also came across [journalist] Maria Ressa's speech for the graduation at Far Eastern University delivered earlier this year. She talked about corruption, zero tolerance, and how corruption is personal. Her ideas helped move our play articulate a notch higher in terms of what we really want to say.

"This production has been collaborative from Day 1. It must try to answer what we initially asked ourselves: Why do we want to do this? It is not to preach about corruption. It is simply putting another perspective to the concept. We have to jolt our audience. We have to provoke them to think."

The production will feature all members of the Actors Company, TP's pool of resident actors, and guest actors such as Manila 6th District councilor and actor Lou Veloso and, in certain performances, rapper Gloc 9.

"We don't expect audiences to change completely and suddenly become vigilant against corruption, though we hope they will. We want them to become aware of the problem, even if it's just a sneak peek of what is really happening in our society. And, of course, they decide if they will still tolerate these things or they will do something about it."

With technical direction and lighting design by Katsch Catoy; production design by Jerome Aytona; and sound design by TJ Ramos.

After its run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the production will be open for bookings for shows around Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

"Walang Kukurap" runs until Oct. 7 at Huseng Batute Theater, Cultural Center of the Philippines. Call 8321125 loc. 1620 and 1621, 0917-7500107, 0918-9593949, 2183791.

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Ballet Philippines explores magical talismans in "Anting"

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Yay! My article on Ballet Philippines' upcoming production of "Anting" was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer's September 10, 2012 issue.

Ballet Philippines explores magical talismans in "Anting" 
By Walter Ang

From left: Hedwig de Leon, Tony Perez, and Paul Morales.
Ballet Philippines stages "Anting" for its "Neo-Filipino" series this September. The series features new works by Filipino choreographers and allows them a venue to tackle issues and experiment with form and choreography.

"'Anting' explores the world of talismans and amulets of Filipino magical traditions," says BP artistic director Paul Morales. "It's made up for four separate movements, each depicting a specific kind of amulet and its powers."

The libretto is by playwright Tony Perez, also known as the author of a series of books on how to cast spells and perform Wiccan rituals. He is also popularly known as the founder of Spirit Questors, a group of psychics who "communicate with earthbound human spirits and elementals."

Perez explains that anting is the street term for anting-anting (talismans). "'Anting' touches on indigenous Philippine 'magickal' systems practiced from the time of the Katipunan to the present day."

He notes, however, that Filipinos have been practicing these forms of "magick" since the pre-Hispanic era. "The mumbaki in the North and the babaylanes in the South; to when oraciones [prayers] were composed and distributed during the Spanish colonial period; to the continued practice of faith healers in the Cordillera; more than 200 existing cults on Mount Banahaw; and the numerous groups and individual practitioners until the present time."

The production will include projections of images of taladros, cloth with magickal patterns and oraciones drawn on and used by albularyos (rural medicine men); medalyones, brass and copper medallions; and anting-anting from Perez's personal collection, featuring the photography of Hedwig de Leon and video art of Andre Cawagas.

"Nang Wala Pang Mundo," is a creation story that traces the origins of the Dios Infinito sa Bato medallion. "This medallion is used for empowerment, establishing supremacy over others, escape from/evasion of danger, and enhancement of masculinity," he says.

In "Sinotris Gentillorum," a taladro comes to life and showcases the syncretic images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. "Specifically Atris, the Immaculate Conception; Matris, Ang Birheng Nagpapasuso; and Sinotris, La Virgin Milagrosa."

"Krus ng Alitagtag" shows the legend of the origins of the holy crosses in the churches of Alitagtag and Bauan in Batangas. Krus ng Alitagtag talismans are made from pieces of wood from the crosses and are worn as pendants for protection, power, success, and fame. "Variations of the talismans are set in gold, silver, copper and/or brass. Thousands of Krus ng Alitagtag have circulated over the years, so that it's difficult to determine which are authentic and which are not."

"Haring Bakal" is about a renegade member of the cult of Haring Bakal, a group that originated in Mindanao and was heavily influenced by the warrior rituals and movements of the area's ethnic groups. "The group is known to have its own distinct taladros and oraciones, and are most widely known for their training to be unaffected by blows dealt with bladed weapons."

Unlike his involvement in plays in which he attends rehearsals to revise scripts based on actors' speech patterns, when it comes to dance, "I always give directors and choreographers the freedom and the creative space they need to bring the works to life on stage."

Each movement will have its own choreographer: Morales; BP associate artistic director Christine Crame; BP alumnus and E-Dance Theater artistic director Gerald Mercado; and Airdance artistic director Ava Villanueva-Ong.

They will work with the music of Jed Balsamo, Jerrold Tarog, Teresa Barrozo and Israel Rodriguez. Set design by Zard Eguia; costume design by Dennis Maristany; and lighting design by Jonjon Villareal.

"Neo-Filipino: Anting" opens Sept. 14 at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Aurelio Tolentino Theater), Cultural Center of the Philippines. Contact 551-1003 or Ticketworld at 891-9999. Student and senior citizen discounts apply. Visit www.ballet.ph.

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"The King and I": Pageant to enthrall Manila

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Yay! My article on Resorts World Manila's upcoming production of "The King and I" was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer's September 10, 2012 issue.

"The King and I": Pageant to enthrall Manila
By Walter Ang

A costume design sketch by Laurel
Resorts World Manila is staging the musical “The King and I,” with Leo Valdes and Bo Cerrudo as King Mongkut and Monique Wilson and Sheila Valderrama as Anna, starting this September.

Based on the experiences of Anna Leonowens, the musical is set in the late 1860s and is about how the King of Siam (now Thailand) hires an English governess to tutor his children in ways of the Western world.

With music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein, the Broadway musical was adapted into a movie in 1956 starring Yul Brynner as the king.
Directed by concert director Freddie Santos, the production will have close to 200 costumes designed by Rajo Laurel and Aksana Sidarava.

Full circle
“I am actually very familiar with the musical!” Laurel says. He was cast as one of the children in the 1978 staging by Repertory Philippines, where he shared the stage with Lea Salonga and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, who were also cast as children.

He says it feels as if he’s come full circle by now designing costumes for the production.  He’d been fascinated by the costumes in the Rep production and it made him realize he wanted to become a fashion designer.

Tasked to design for the lead characters, Laurel’s “plan is to just go in and update the 19th-century costuming with a more modern take. The costume history of this production is very rich, specifically Anna’s corsetry and hoop skirts set against the King of Siam’s traditional garb. All it needs is just a modern flourish!”

Laurel has designed costumes for Repertory Philippines (“Evita,” “My Fair Lady”); Atlantis Productions (“Dreamgirls,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”); Ballet Philippines (“Inamorata”).

Design process
“Designing for the stage is very particular because it deals with both practical functionality and presence. It has to do with all of the minute details whilst simultaneously appealing to the point of view of an audience member. Theatricality is key as the sum of all the details makes for visual impact.”

Sidarava, who hails from Belarus, will work on costumes for the rest of the cast. She says the preparations for costume design included research through books and the Internet as well as viewings of film versions of the story. “My guideline is the traditional costumes of that time period.”

Having started off as a dancer, Sidarava also incorporates her experience with body movement into her works. “As a costume designer, you always have to think about the actors and the way the costumes are going to flow around with their movements, and choose the right material for maximum stage effect and best comfort for the artists.”

With the participation of Philippine Ballet Theater and Manila Philharmonic Orchestra; musical direction by Rodell Colmenar; vocal direction by Lynn Fabella; sound design by Radz Corpuzset; design by Jo Tecson; and lighting design by John Batalla.

“King and I” opens Sept. 15 at Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila, Pasay City.  Call tel. 8366333 or visit www.rwmanila.com.

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Gantimpala Theater's "Kanser" ("Noli Me Tangere") Aug. 26-Sept. 16, 2012

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Gantimpala Theater

35th theater season

Jomar Fleras'
Based on Jose Rizal's novel “Noli Me Tangere”

Directed by Adriana Agcaoili and Jheyar Caguimbal

“Kanser” was first staged in 1980 at the CCP. 
Why an adaptation of “Noli”? Because, says Agcaoili, “As live theater, it makes for an entertaining two hours of watching. And as a historical record, it is a powerful and very real testament to the sacrifice that Rizal--and all the revolutionary Eliases, the victimized Sisas and Crispins and the broken idealists like Ibarra--made for our motherland. The lost dreams and the blood they have shed have bought us the freedom we enjoy but sometimes take for granted.”

Kapuso actor Jay Gonzaga and Kapamilya actress Cris Pastor reprise their roles as Crisostomo Ibarra and Maria Clara, respectively. They first performed the roles in GT's 2011 run of "Kanser."

“Ibarra is a very difficult role since he is the center of the novel’s universe,” says Gonzaga. “He starts as an idealistic ilustrado who just came from Europe, whose main reason for coming home is to rekindle his affair with Maria Clara. But as the play progresses, his discoveries and battles become all gut-wrenching and heartbreaking, consuming him in the end.”

Pastor says of her Maria Clara: “I have a better appreciation of her person because of this production. To many, she is emotionally weak. But I've realized she is a brave and strong woman. She sacrificed so much to protect the purity of her love for Crisostomo.”

Philstage Best Actress Marj Lorico, meanwhile, is playing Sisa. “I am also a mother, so I know how she feels... Giving life to such a larger-than-life character is my way of telling today’s generation to read our literary classics. What I like about this play is that each of the major characters are highlighted, thus audiences get to know them better.”

Model/actor Patrick Patawaran is Padre Salvi, the young priest who secretly covets Maria Clara.

Artistic collaborators include Benjie Cayetano (lighting designer), Norman Peñaflorida (set designer), Roobak Valle (choreographer), Charyl De Guzman (production manager) and Wilmark Oliver Tabio (stage manager).

The National Parks Development Committee and Everbilena fully support Gantimpala Theater’s production of “Kanser”.

August 26, (7 p.m.), Concert at the Park Open Air Auditorium, Luneta, Manila;
August 31, September 1-2 (9 a.m./12nn/3 p.m.), AFP Theater, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City;
September 7-9 (9 a.m./12nn/3 p.m.), Star Theater, Star City Compound, Pasay City;
September 14-16 (11 a.m./2 p.m.), Cinema 3, SM Southmall, Las Piñas City.

For tickets, call 9985622. Facebook: gantimpala.

MMQ Theatre's "Shhh...Speakeasy Le Cabaret 6" Sept. 15, 2012

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Announcement from MMQ Theatre

MMQ Theatre

Shhh...Speakeasy Le Cabaret 6
"Les Annees Folles (Crazy Years) A Night of Prohibition Fun"

September 15, 2012 7pm
Grand Ballroom, Dusit Thani Hotel

Tickets include a four-course authentic French dinner, free-flowing wines and champagne, fabulous raffle prizes, silent and live auction items, and a cabaret show just for you.

Attire: Black Tie or Swanky 20s

MMQ is a non profit arts for charity organization which produces theatre and other arts events that aim to promote Expatriate-Filipino partnerships, build Expatriate and Filipino audiences, and support women's and children's charities in the Philippines.

Contact mmqtheatre@gmail.com or 0927-383-9517 to purchase tickets and to receive password needed to enter the venue.

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

"Delight/Delirium" Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2012

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Announcement from Riley Palanca

Riley Palanca

A Creative Writing thesis production of Riley Palanca, Dept. of English and Comparative Literature, University of the Philippines, supervised by Paolo Manalo.

Two hours, four one-act plays.
18 men, 2 beds, 3 beanbags, handcuffs, rope, and a swivel chair

Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2012 3pm and 7pm
Teatro Hermogenes Ylagan, Faculty Center,
University of the Philippines, Quezon City.

"Delight/Delirium" looks into that triggering incident that shifts the dichotomy from the pains of delight into the logic of delirium. This is both a celebration and a lament of that psyche of an underground, masculine, and queer subculture, with each play layering deeper and deeper into the world of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, violence, rage, angst, war, power, and memories.

Directed by Arkel Mendoza
When five high school boys stumble into one of their friend’s basement to engage in their usual drug
sessions, little did they know how it would be the night that would change them. As they get more and
more inebriated, each boy zooms in on an incident in their group’s life, breaking down the barriers
between individual and group, ultimately leading them to question why they became friends in the first

Directed by Chic San Augstin
In a post-apocalyptic Philippines where the Clergy has taken control of the government and
homosexuals are being massacred, Viper, a high-ranking rebel soldier, attempts to resurrect his
murdered lover by kidnapping and interrogating an imperial priest about the whereabouts of a specific
body part — only to find out that its discovery comes at a price of its own.

Directed by Ric Salcedo
One night that could have been typical for two people: the first throwing himself into the world in
search for himself; the second, willing to oblige — for a price. Both callboy and client are trapped in an
endless negotiation about boundaries and fetishes. When the games begin, their whole philosophies on
love, sex, and relationships (the big three) might get either reaffirmed or shattered beyond thought.

Little Black Book
Directed by Katte Sabate
Who owns a memory? Who steals a memory? Is a memory a fragmentation of truth or the weaving of a lie? What are these men, are they men, are they characters, are they caricatures, or are they ultimately
ideals? One man questions his present by rooting through his past, clawing through the shards that
make him whole. A confession with no penance.

Contact +63915-970-5508 or palanca.riley@gmail.com. Facebook: delightdelirium2012.

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

Eugene Domingo: From 'Kimmy Dora' to 'Bona'

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Yay! My article on Philippine Educational Theater Association's upcoming staging of "Bona" was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer's August 20, 2012 issue.

The full interview is below. (The green parts are the parts that the editors had to cut out due to lack of space. Please support coverage of the arts by encouraging advertisers to place ads in newspapers!)

Peta's "Bona" opens Aug. 24
Eugene Domingo: From 'Kimmy Dora' to 'Bona'
By Walter Ang

TV and film comedy actress Eugene Domingo ("Kimmy Dora") will portray Bona, a role performed by Nora Aunor in the film version, in Philippine Education Theater Association's stage adaptation "Bona."

Bona is a diehard fan of Gino Sanchez, played by Edgar Allan Guzman ("Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me"), a contestant on a television talent search show.

Originally written as a teleplay by Cenen Ramones featuring Laurice Guillen (Bona) and Ruel Vernal (Gardo), National Artist for Film and Peta founding member Lino Brocka directed the film version in 1980 starring Aunor as a high school girl smitten by macho bit-player actor Gardo (played by Philip Salvador).

Movies headlined by Aunor have been adapted for the stage before.  Peta staged the 1976 film "Minsa'y Isang Gamu-Gamo" in 1991 with Aunor herself in the leading role. Tanghalang Pilipino staged the 1982 film "Himala" in 2003.  Both productions were directed by Socrates "Soxy" Topacio, who will also direct Peta's "Bona."

Layeta Bucoy was approached by Peta artistic director Maribel Legarda to handle the script. Bucoy has been gaining recognition in the theater industry over the years, given her multiple Palanca awards and steady stream of one-act plays that have created buzz for their subject matter, use of language, and surprise twists, such as "Isang Libong Tula para sa Dibdib ni Dulce" (obsessive love), "Ellas Inocentes" (sexual innocence) and ""Doc Resureccion:  Gagamutin ang Bayan" (politics). Last year, she adapted William Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" with director Tuxqs Rutaquio, her constant collaborator, into a contemporary Filipino setting.

"In this version, Bona is more empowered. She's financially independent. She's a call center agent," Bucoy says. "As a fan, she lays claim to empowerment as she believes that the inclusion of fan votes for a talent search affords her the power to choose tomorrow's next big star."

"At first, we tried to follow the plot points of the movie, but as the adaptation developed and the process, true to the nature of theater, became more collaborative, a lot of changes were introduced, though still anchored on the spirit of the movie."

Comedy drama
The resulting work is now a comedy-drama. Bucoy points out that the addition of comedic angles is not so much a catering to Domingo's comedic skills than it is a result of the "evolution of the adaptation resulting from the team's collective vision."

"The term 'bona' is used in gay lingo. 'Nagpapaka-bona ka sa pag-ibig' means you're being stupid, being too much of a martyr for love. When we look at Bona from this angle, what might be melodramatic or even tragic to some might be comical to others. The difficulty lies in choosing a perspective. Isn't it true that even when it comes to religious fanaticism, some of us may laugh at those who go into a trance while singing 'In His Time?'"

Bucoy also writes novels and scripts for television and film, which serves as a reference point and helps inform her work for the stage. "Usually, when I write a play, I deliberately try to squeeze the action, even for full length plays, into just a day and in only one or two settings. I find it challenging to compress a 'life' into just a half-hour performance."

"Bona's 'story' doesn't happen in just a day and in just one setting.  Stageability is one of my major concerns when writing plays. My mentor Nick Pichay taught me that audiences' attention spans wane when darkness fills the stage."

The production will use videos as a transition device between scenes but Bucoy didn't want the obvious comparisons to television's commercial gaps. "We wanted to make the content of the videos part of the narrative. Working with my soul mate Tuxqs Rutaquio has taught me to be conscious of how text is 'translated' on stage. Form has a lot of influence on both content and how content is communicated."

"With 'Bona,' using videos not only affords smooth scene transitions on stage, but it also enriches the very content of the material: Bona falls for a guy she first sees on television, desires to see on the big screen, and follows in cyberspace. The guy is inside a 'screen' or a 'monitor' as Bona herself is slowly revealed to be seemingly trapped inside a 'screen' monitored by those who dictate what kind of life should we live."

"Bona" runs Aug 24-Sept. 23, 2012 at Peta Theater, Quezon City. Contact 725-6244, 0917-5765400 or Ticketworld (891-9999). Visit petatheater.com.

Also published online:

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

Extended run of Ateneo Blue Repertory's "13: The Musical" Aug 15-18, 2012

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Announcement from Ateneo Blue Repertory

Ateneo Blue Repertory's

13: The Musical 

from August 15-18 (8PM) and August 18 (3PM)

Fine Arts Theater, 3/F Gonzaga Hall, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City 

Music by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Christopher de Venecia
Musical direction by Reb Atadero
Choreography by Mica Fajardo

More info about the show here.

Contact 0917-500-2462

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

Adjusted/new showdates of "Sintang Dalisay" Aug 14-25, 2012

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Announcement from Tanghalang Ateneo

Adjusted/new showdates of "Sintang Dalisay"
(due to cancelled shows during monsoon flooding)

August 14-17 at 7pm
August 22-24 at 7pm
August 18 & 25 at 2pm and 7pm

Contact 426-6001 loc. 5427, 0917-856-0787

Information about the show here.

Theaterbatoring "Sintang Dalisay" here.

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

Repertory's "Wizard of Oz" opens Aug. 18

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Yay! My article on Repertory Philippines' upcoming production of "The Wizard of Oz" was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in its August 13, 2012 issue.

Repertory's "Wizard of Oz" opens Aug. 18
By Walter Ang

Repertory Philippines's Children's Theater, celebrating its 20th anniversary, is staging the musical "The Wizard of Oz," based on the book by L. Frank Baum.

Dorothy Gale is swept away from her home in Kansas by a tornado and ends up in the Land of Oz where she meets a Tin Woodsman without a heart, a Scarecrow without a brain, and a Lion who's cowardly.

The three of them set off to find the Wizard of Oz to ask for his help to get Dorothy back home and for him to grant her three new friends' wishes-all while fending off the evil Wicked Witch of the West.

For this staging, actor Rem Zamora will be alternating with Pinky Marquez in the role of the Wicked Witch of the West.

A role is a role
"I don't treat it so much as playing a female role but more of playing another character," he says.  "Being male does make it more challenging but once I zero in on the character, it becomes much easier.  The role is a lot of fun though.  She's a fun character and I'm having a great time playing her."

Zamora has played female roles before, such as (also) the witch in "Sleeping Beauty" and in the musical "Bare" for Ateneo Blue Repertory. "The witch in 'Sleeping Beauty' was a role that was open to male actors. 'Bare' was tougher because it had more layers."

"I was originally cast as the Tin Man in but when I read the script, I asked to play the Witch. The Wicked Witch of the West is fun because it's very one dimensional. Fun and games really."

He hopes audiences won't even realize that the Witch is being played by a male actor, "But if they do, I hope they can go beyond my gender and just see the merits of the performance. I don't think my being male playing a female role will open up any issues though. The material is so light and fun."

Not MGM version
There have been several stage musical adaptations of the 1939 MGM movie musical that popularized the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and which starred Judy Garland as Dorothy.  The latest adaptation by Andrew Lloyd Webber premiered in London's West End last year.

Another popular stage musical version is "The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical" which was made into a movie in the late 70s starring Diana Ross as an adult Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow.  Rep staged "The Wiz" in 1994.

Theater fans will also know of the musical "Wicked," based on Gregory Maguire's revisionist book "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," an alternative prequel that focuses on Elphaba, who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West.

The version Rep is staging has book and lyrics by Jim Eiler and music by Eiler and Jeanne Bargy. Directed by Rep Children's Theater founder Joy Virata.

Cara Barredo and Giannina Ocampo alternate as Dorothy.  Set design by Lex Marcos, costume design by Raven Ong, and lighting design by John Batalla.

Choreographer Nathalie Everett has been tasked to create a "freestyle street dance vibe." Virata says: "We've got the Scarecrow doing waving and bugaloo and the Tin Man as a popping, breaking, locking robot in some of the dance scenes."

Zamora says: "This version caters to a much younger audience. Audiences will definitely like this one. It's simple and fun.  The songs have good recall and the script is really funny.

"Wizard of Oz" opens Aug 18 and runs till Dec at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1 Mall, Makati City. Contact 571-6926, 571-4941 or info@repertory.ph or Ticketworld at 891-9999.  Visit www.repertory.ph.

Also published online:

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

The subversive, seditious sarswela of Lola Basyang August 2012

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I had prepared some notes for a possible article on the upcoming production of "Walang Sugat" by Tanghalang Pilipino but the article didn't push through. I"m using some of the notes, sentences that I'd already written, and the alliterative and clever (ehem, kekeke) title that I had thought of for this short blog post announcement.

Tanghalang Pilipino
"Walang Sugat"

A wounded Tenyong, who has joined the revolution against Spain, rushes to his sweetheart Julia, who is being forced to marry another man, to keep his promise of binding their hearts as one before his death.

"Walang Sugat" is a sarswela, a Filipino musical theater form evolved and indigenized from the Spanish zarzuela, written in 1898 by Severino Reyes, more popularly known by his pen name Lola Basyang, the grandmotherly figure of children's stories fame.

"Walang Sugat" is considered one of the "seditious plays" of the early American colonization, when Reyes and other playwrights would disguise anti-Spanish and anti-American imperialism sentiments through their works.

First staged during the early 1900s, the figure of Uncle Sam would replace the Spanish friar-villain character in some shows, allowing American authorities to deem the material as subversive and causing Reyes to be incarcerated.

Cris Villonco plays Julia
Noel Rayos and Antonio Ferrer alternate as Tenyong

Additional text by Nick Tiongson
Music by Fulgencio Tolentino, Constancio de Guzman, and Mike Velarde
Additional music and music direction by Chino Toledo
Choreography by Nonoy Froilan
Set design by Tuxqs Rutaquio
Costume design by James Reyes
Lighting design by Katsch Catoy

Originally slated to open on Aug. 9, "Walang Sugat" has cancelled shows for Aug. 9-12 due to monsoon flooding of Metro Manila. 

Show will open on Aug. 16 and run until 26 at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, Cultural Center of the Philippines. Ticketbuyers of the August 9-12 shows will be accommodated in these shows. There will be no extension or immediate re-run because of venue unavailability. 

CCP does not allow audiences beyond the actual number of seats (421) in Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Aurelio Tolentino Theater). To avoid the inconvenience of travelling to CCP only to find out that there are no more tickets available at the box office, contact 832-1125 loc. 1620 and 1621, 0917-7500107, 0918-9593949, and 218-3791.

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

Ateneo Blue Repertory's fundraising performance of "13: The Musical" for August 2012 flood victims Aug 11, 2012 8pm

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Announcement from Ateneo Blue Repertory

Fundraising performance 
"13: The Musical"
for victims of Aug 2012 flooding

With special performance by Reb Atadero

Tickets at P500
All proceeds will be donated to #reliefPH

Aug. 11, 2012 Saturday 8pm
Fine Arts Theater, 3/F Gonzaga Hall, Ateneo De Manila University
Contact 0917-5002462 for reservations

For details about the flooding:
Philippine Daily Inquirer news article: Storm with no name, 12M affected
New York Times article: City with water up to its knees

Details about the show:
Directed by Christopher de Venecia
Musical direction by Reb Atadero
Choreography by Mica Fajardo

Evan Goldman, a New Yorker on the brink of turning 13 years old, has to deal with his parents' divorce; a move to the “middle-of-nowhere” Appleton, Indiana; making new friends; and building a new reputation from scratch.

Trouble starts when Evan tries to fix everyone’s problems--the star quarterback needs help courting the prettiest cheerleader, his friend Archie is demanding a date with his crush, and, on top of it all, someone is spreading the nastiest rumors about him.

Evan’s loyal friend, the school geek Patrice, helps him get by, but because of the merciless hierarchy of their school, Evan must recognize who his true friends are and discover what it really means to be a man.

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

Tanghalang Pilipino moves opening date of "Walang Sugat" from Aug. 9 Thurs to Aug. 16 Thurs

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Announcement from Tanghalang Pilipino

Aug. 8, 2012 Wednesday

Due to the unfortunate natural phenomenon that we are experiencing now, we wish to let our valued ticketholders of WALANG SUGAT, subscribers, patrons and guests know that

we are cancelling our 3pm show and the 8pm Gala Performance tomorrow, August 9, 2012,
and the rest of the performances this weekend, August 10-12.

We will, instead, open next week, August 16, Thursday.
Your tickets for the August 9-12 performances will be valid either on new special dates to replace the original schedules, or your preferred other performances subject to availability of seats.

Please contact 0917-750-0107, 0915-607-2275, or 0935-378-4781
or Tanghalang Pilipino office 8321125, local 1620 or 1621.

We also wish to let you know that we are coordinating with the officials of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) for an agreement that will allow TP to accept donations in cash or kind for the flood victims before and after the performances. We also plan to do a special fund-raising performance of WALANG SUGAT for the same cause. As Filipino artists, we, in Tanghalang Pilipino, commit, not only to the promotion of our craft, but also to community service and assistance.

Maraming salamat po.

Nanding Josef,
Artistic Director, Tanghalang Pilipino

Carlos Siguion-Reyna

Theaterbatoring two awit-based productions: Tanghalang Ateneo's "Sintang Dalisay" and Gantimpala Theater's "Florante at Laura"

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thoughts on two awit-based productions:
tanghalang ateneo's "sintang dalisay" and gantimpala theater's "florante at laura"
by walter ang
aug. 7, 2012

tangahalang ateneo's "sintang dalisay" 2012

i recently caught two productions that were based on awit. awit is a form of filipino narrative poetry with dodecasyllabic (12 syllables per line) quatrains (4 lines per stanza).

ta's "sintang dalisay" is based on the awit "ang sintang dalisay ni julieta at romeo" (the pure love of julieta and romeo) by g.d. roke (1901). this awit is, in turn, based on william shakespeare's "romeo and juliet" (circa 1590s), among other versions of the story. ricky abad and guelan luarca have devised a staging script using national artist for theater rolando tinio's tagalog translation to supplement the plotline of roke's awit.

while shakespeare's play is set in verona, director abad resets the story in a fictional philippine southern muslim location and uses igal, a traditional dance of the indigenous sama-bajau people of mindanao, as its movement motif.

gt's "florante at laura" is based the awit "pinagdaanang buhay nina florante at laura sa kahariang albanya ..." (the life of florante at laura in the kingdom of albania ..." by francisco balagtas (1838), adapted by bonifacio ilagan and directed by roeder camañag using the staging conventions of komedya. not to be mistaken as the tagalized translation of "comedy," komedya is the performance/theater form evolved and indigenized from spain's "comedia de capa y espada" (cloak and sword drama) and "comedia de santo" (drama about saints), evangelizing tools used by spanish colonizers.

gt's use of komedya staging conventions is an interesting endeavor in that it aims to show audiences how this particular form used to be done. the "non-realistic, externalized" (i.e. exaggerated, declamatory) acting style and mustra (hand and body gestures) are not too difficult to accept, as the actors give off a performance vibe that, while hammy and hokey, kind of feels as if one was watching a children's play.

however, the entrances and exits where actors march on to and off the stage are distracting and interrupt momentum (it does not help that the music used for these marches stay the same regardless of the tone of the scene). and the paseo (pass-in-review) portions, where characters do geometric formations like circles, Xs, or figures of 8s, feel clumsy and look ill-choreographed/poorly executed.

(and do students in ancient greece, even if they are from royal stock, all wear immaculately white tunics? all with gold trim? and with white leggings?)

gantimpala theater's "florante at laura" 2012
ta's reconfigured locale and cultural context works and brings the material closer to home. its igal-based movement lends a visually pleasing kinetic layer to the text, though the production could scale it back a bit.

companions who watched with me had these two observations: (1) the hand and arm gestures, though novel in the beginning, loses its potency because almost every single line comes with the gestures; (2) the male actors need work on their shoulder movements ("it's supposed to be an up-and-down motion, not 'shake, body body dancer,'" said one.) and they lack masculinity in their demeanor ("this play is still, at its core, about men and women. the movement should reflect that," said the other.)

i'm ambivalent about the continuous use of hand gestures all throughout and i'm not an expert on dance, so i can't tell if the shoulder movements were correct or not, but i didn't mind so much that the men and women didn't have distinct movement vocabularies. i felt it was a softer (and fresh) take in relation to the love/gender dynamic. perhaps even a more "eastern" or "asian" take versus more "western" notions of masculine and feminine physicality. and when divisions of love loom so largely as a theme, uniformity (not necessarily unison) in movement seems an interesting counterpoint.

here and there, then and now
beyond production values and executions per se, it's the staging choices that interest me. how does one take material written in and set in a different time, and set in foreign locations, and make it work for today, for filipino audiences?

we have, on one hand, a british playwright who wrote a play set in verona (italy), whose work was adapted into an awit by roke (nationality unknown), whose work has been reset back into a play by abad and guelan, (re)set in a philippine muslim locale, staged by manileños portraying their southern counterparts.

on the other hand, we have a filipino playwright who set his komedya in europe (the story spans albania, greece and crotone, even has a character from epirus, and has turks and persians as invading enemies) being staged by present day manileños using an old staging form derived from the spanish.

ta's staging takes its material to a fictitious and "timeless" locale and infuses it with a "non-realistic" movement. gt retains the foreign locale and attempts to replicate old(er) staging devices that also have "non-realistic" movement.

ta's "sintang" is able to make connections with its audience perhaps because it uses devices audiences are familiar with.  gt's "florante," unfortunately, is a challenge to enjoy, perhaps because the devices it chose to use are (now) unfamiliar and harder to appreciate.

plot and familiarity
the awit "sintang dalisay" is based on a play (and ta's version still uses the play as an anchor to stage the awit) while the awit "florante at laura" was not written with the objective of being staged. setting aside issues of engaging plot and/or structure*, let's explore familiarity as an aspect of relatability.

is it easier to relate to a production (and, therefore, easier to like it) if you are (somewhat more) familiar with the material (before you go watch a staging)?

(some) audiences are familiar with "romeo and juliet" because of movies and occasional pop culture references. (most) filipino audiences should be at least familiar with the plot of "florante at laura" because it's required reading in high school.

and here lies the question: in this particular round of "romeo and juliet" versus "florante at laura," are we filipinos more familiar with (and therefore, can relate better to) a foreign playwright's work (because it's easier to watch a two-hour movie version; because there are more versions of it floating around in the world; because theater groups will always find a way to stage shakespeare) than one of our own (because who can honestly read an awit just for fun these days?; because why hasn't any movie producer made a new version for contemporary audiences to enjoy?; because, aside from "canonical" stagings of "florante at laura," who else explores other ways of staging it?)?

i don't know the answer(s), though for possible non-sequitur answers, we can quote both shakespeare and balagtas, kekeke.

shakespeare: "the play's the thing."

balagtas (my sophomore high school filipino teacher required us to memorize the second stanza of "florante at laura" and for some reason, i still remember it to this day, kekeke.):

kung sa biglang tingi'y bubot at masaklap
palibhasa'y hilaw at mura ang balat
ngunit kung namnamin ang sa lamang lasap,
masasarapan din ang babasang pantas.

[eng. translation by patricia jurilla]
at a glance, this may look unripe and sour,
because its rind is still green and immature,
but when savoured, the taste of its meat
will be enjoyed even by the discriminating reader.

[*shakespeare's "romeo and juliet" has love, street fights, family fueds, poison, missed communications, etc., elements that would be at home in a teleserye. (and his general use of major romantic couples supported by comic sidekick couples as a device in his other works is used in many a teleserye, too). balagtas' "florante at laura" is epic in scope, has romance, travel, battle scenes, intrigue, court politics, etc., also elements that would be at home in a teleserye. or even an animated film!]

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

Auditions for 9 Works Theatrical's 2013 season Aug 20-21 & 27, 2012

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Announcement from 9 Works Theatrical

for 9 Works Theatrical's
2013 season

Bring headshot, resume, and minus one or music score.

Aug 20 (Monday)
Song Auditions
11am to 4pm
- prepare 1 pop song and 1 Broadway song

Aug 21 (Tuesday)

Song Auditions
11am to 4pm

Dance Callbacks
3pm to 5pm

Aug 27 (Monday)
2nd Dance Callbacks
1pm to 4pm

Opera Haus
2nd floor
3637 Bautista St., Makati City


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

Jay Españo in fourth "The King and I" production

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Jay Españo in fourth "The King and I" production

Jay Españo
In 2011, Filipino actor Jay Españo portrayed the lead role of King Mongkut in three different productions of "The King and I" in USA and Canada (read about it here.)

This year, he reprises the same role in his fourth production for John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts in Eugene, Oregon, a performing arts company that presents a year-long array of culturally diverse festivals, concert series, and educational programs that focus on, but are not limited to, American music in all of its forms and variations

Shirley Andress
Asked if he ever gets tired of the role, Españo replies, "There is always something new to discover in this production and it's not a touring company so I get to meet and work with a new cast every time."

Director/Choreographer Richard Jessup was impressed with Espano's video audition and cast him in the role of King Mongkut, "Because he has worked and performed in Thailand, there is an essence of authenticity to his King character." Espano conducted dialect and movement workshops for the cast for consistency of the Siamese culture.

Playing opposite Españo is Shirley Andress as Anna Leonowens.

"The King and I" is part of The Shedd Institute's annual Oregon Festival of American Music. The show runs Aug. 4-11, 2012 at the Silva Concert Hall, Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Contact (541) 682-5000.

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Agnes Locsin's "Puno: Pangatlong Galaw" Aug 1, 2012

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PETA Theater Center

Puno: Pangatlong Galaw

A one-hour concert collection of solo and duo dances

August 1, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. 

Choreographed by Agnes Locsin
Featuring Gaye Galiluyo and Georgette Sanchez

"Puno: Pangatlong Galaw" is the third of Locsin's series titled "Alay Sa Puno," a tribute to trees, a dirge for their disappearance, and a plea for reforestation.. "Puno" follows "Ugat: Unang Galaw" and "Dahon: Ikalawang Galaw."

"Puno" explores the literal, physical and symbolical virtues of the texture and strength garnered from the trunks that bear the weight of life. While the first and second series installments focused on the common trees around the Philippines, "Puno" focuses on the hard and redwood trees found mostly in the vanishing forests of the Philippines. This concert will show the strength of nearly if not already extinct trees like the Apitong, Yakal, Tugas, Kamagong, Mangkono and Bagtikan trees, along with the lesser known hardtrees like the Caimito, Lechiyas and Bayabas trees. "Puno" will expound on the parallelisms of the fight for survival of men, women, and trees.

Galiluyo and Sanchez, both international artists, are alumnae of Ballet Philippines where they first crossed paths and trained with Locsin.

Galiluyo was the First Prize Winner for performance and interpretation at the 9th International Solo Tanz Theater in 2005 in Germany and a bronze medalist in the Masdanza International Dance Competition in Spain. In 1999, Galiluyo moved to Switzerland to dance with Tanztheater Basel. A year later, she went on to Germany to join the Geissen Dance Company as well as the Irina Pauls Tanztheater. She is currently an independent artist based in Freiburg, Germany but comes home for her mentor's choreographic forays.

In 2000, meanwhile, Sanchez won the silver medal in the 9th Paris International Dance Competition, for her performances in Locsin's "September" and Alden Lugnasin's "Aku."  She has danced with ABC Dance Company in Austria and for Tanz Darmstadt in Germany, and will join the Tanz Oper in Munich, Germany this August.

Galiluyo and Sanchez were both seen in the Philippines in Locsin's "Sayaw, Sabel" (2010) and previously in "Sayaw LikhANG KIUKOK" (2005).

Contact 735-6244 or 0916-309-0707.

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Ateneo Blue Repertory's "13: The Musical" July 25-Aug 11, 2012

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Announcement from Ateneo Blue Repertory

Ateneo Blue Repertory

13: The Musical

Music by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Christopher de Venecia
Musical direction by Reb Atadero
Choreography by Mica Fajardo

Evan Goldman, a New Yorker on the brink of turning 13 years old, has to deal with his parents' divorce; a move to the “middle-of-nowhere” Appleton, Indiana; making new friends; and building a new reputation from scratch.

Trouble starts when Evan tries to fix everyone’s problems--the star quarterback needs help courting the prettiest cheerleader, his friend Archie is demanding a date with his crush, and, on top of it all, someone is spreading the nastiest rumors about him.

Evan’s loyal friend, the school geek Patrice, helps him get by, but because of the merciless hierarchy of their school, Evan must recognize who his true friends are and discover what it really means to be a man.

July 25, 26, 27, 28, Aug 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10 and 11 at 8pm
July 28, Aug 4 and 11 at 3pm
Fine Arts Theater, 3/F Gonzaga Hall, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City 

Contact 0917-5002462.
Visit www.facebook.com/blueREPERTORY.
Follow @_blueREPERTORY on Twitter.

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Dulaang Laboratoryo's puppet twinbill "Pabulayan" (Dalawang Bayani: Jose at Andres / Ang Pagong at ang Tsonggo) Aug. 23-25, 2012

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Announcement from Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas' Dulaang Laboratoryo

Dulaang Laboratoryo
in cooperation with
Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas
on its 35th year


A puppet performance twinbill of
Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio's
Dalawang Bayani: Jose at Andres
Ang Pagong at ang Tsonggo

A puppeteering acting recital/thesis production of Valeri Galvez and Anne Elechi.
Directed by Amihan Bonifacio-Ramolete (daughter of Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio)

Dalawang Bayani
1st prize 1995 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature
Spanish colonial heroes Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio come to life as they narrate important events in their lives: their family, education, first love, and their views on the revolution.

Ang Pagong at ang Tsonggo
A retelling of the Filipino folktale about the turtle and the monkey, which is famous for the saying "Tuso man daw ang matsing, kung tutumbasan ng galing, ay mapaglalalangan din."

August 23, 2012 Thursday - 2pm
August 24, 2012 Friday - 2pm and 7pm
August 25, 2012 Saturday - 10am and 2pm

Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Teatro Papet Museo
64 Mapagkawanggawa St., Teachers Village West, Quezon City

Featuring the puppets of Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas

Puppet designers: Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio and Nicole Bautista

Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio, also known as Lola Amel, is a playwright, writer, and a set designer. She is dubbed The Grande Dame of Southeast Asian Children’s Theater. At present, she is Professor Emeritus of the UP where she also serves as Professor of English. Now in her early-80s, she is still active in theater, performing for child and for adult audiences, writing plays, designing and creating puppets, costumes and sets, and setting the direction of children’s literature and children’s theater in the country. 

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

Contact valeriergalvez@gmail.com or mobile +63922-882-5594.

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