Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tara na sa Intramuros!

What's in Intramuros? Well, the ancient streets and buildings of the Walled City promise to come alive with the ongoing "A Walk Back in Time: The Intramuros Theater-in-the-Round Experience," a series of events and performances running until Dec. 23 at Plaza San Ignacio.

Questions of historical accuracy aside (let's leave that to the scholars), you now have the chance to see how the inhabitants of Intramuros dressed up and looked like during the Spanish era, as actors and performers in period costumes parade around the area twice every night, some 45 minutes before an interactive show is performed at the open-air ruins of San Ignacio Church.

The play, which runs twice nightly at 8pm and 9pm, was written by the much-garlanded playwright, actor and teacher Rody Vera, directed by Chris Millado, and performed by Tanghalang Pilipino. The audience itself, milling about and standing before the stage, becomes part of the production, as various characters weave in and out of the crowd and engage audience members in small talk. So don't be surprised if a Chinese merchant suddenly approaches and unfurls a bolt of silk before you. Or two women shrouded in black engage in loud gossip nearby. They're all part of the act--a way to give you a feel of how it was to live within these walls during the Spanish colonial era.

I saw the preview performance and, despite some glitches, I appreciated what the Department of Tourism is trying to do with this activity. I would've preferred that the play's text were in Filipino rather than in English (an obvious nod to foreign tourists), and to have English translations or supertitles flashed on the walls instead. But I don't have the heart to quibble for now. After all, if it's exactness that should govern this valiant attempt at reliving a forgotten part of our history, the actors might as well speak in Spanish, right?

One other thing that excited me: it's Tanghalang Pilipino that's performing here, simply one of the country's best theater troupes at present. In particular, let me direct your attention to that boy dressed in sacristan vestments in the picture. His name is Abner Delina Jr., a recent graduate of the Philippine High School for the Arts in Makiling, Laguna, and he is a very young actor of tremendous promise. In last July's "Virgin Labfest 2" (a modest festival of 15 fresh, unstaged works by the Writers' Bloc, a loose group of established and emerging Filipino playwrights, held at the CCP and performed mostly by TP actors), Mr. Delina headlined Alvin Dacanay's play, "First Snow of November," an adaptation of Bienvenido Santos' "The Day the Dancers Came." All of 16 years old, he played an aging Pinoy expat in a Chicago nursing home pining for his homeland, and he pulled it off magnificently.

"A Walk Back in Time" offers other attractions, including a food festival highlighting our ancient ties with pre-Spanish trading partners like China, India, Japan, Malaysia and Arabia; chorale performances by award-winning choirs; an exhibit of Pampanga parols; as well as performances by contemporary bands (beginning 10pm every Friday).

And guess what? All activities and events are open to the public. Admission is free. So let's get our asses off the malls for once and find time to support this culture-building effort. (Call 9271294 local 108 for more details.)

[photos 1-4: Jim Guiao Punzalan]

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree that Abner Delina was magnificent in "First Snow." He's got a powerful voice that would definitely shake your soul.

Senor Enrique said...

Thanks for this information! I will check it out. Do they allow photo taking?

Great blog! I will be stopping often from now on to see other cultural events going on in the city.

Cheers!

Eric

gibbs cadiz said...

hi anonymous, do leave your name. your comments are much welcome. :)

hi ERIC, thank you for dropping by. yes, they do allow photo-taking, so fire away! :) i'll add you to my blogroll.

Alvin said...

Intramuros being one of my favorite places to go to, I'm definitely going to catch this show one of these days.

Amazing talent that Abner, isn't he? I'm so grateful and lucky that he took on the role of Fil in my play.

snglguy said...

How ingenious, an interactive stage play/historical tour. Makapanood nga. :-)

I agree. The actors should all speak in either Tagalog or Spanish, for accuracy's sake. Just my two centavos... :-)

AnneMac said...

Am going this Saturday! Will take my hubby there to celebrate his birthday. He just loves intramuros! I hope he does not find out about his till them. And I hope I can get good seats!

LaNa said...

nice! I want to go there.. :D

gibbs cadiz said...

ey ALVIN, nice to see you here. wonderful play too! :)

SNGLGUY, go! :)

ey ANNEMAC, happy birthday to your hubby. enjoy!

LANA, have fun! and bring your classmates with you. :)

lewis said...

i'm going there tonight with my friend from Dubai...

thanks for the info Kuya...

janine said...

go kuya abs...

great job.

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