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.

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