Twenty-six of the country's leading actresses from film and theater will gather at the CCP on January 26, Ms. Avellana's 90th (!) birthday, to pay homage to this pioneering woman with a live retrospective of her most acclaimed roles. How about this: Cecille Guidote Alvarez as Medea, Baby Barredo as Sarah Bernhardt, Shamaine Centenera Buencamino as Desdemona, Frances Makil as Lady Macbeth, Ivi Avellana Cosio (Ms. Avellana's daughter) as Bernarda Alba, and all the other performers who've played Candida and Paula from Nick Joaquin's "Portrait of the Artist as Filipino" (a distinguished list that includes Naty Crame Rogers, Rustica Carpio, Dolly Benavides, Gina Alajar, Malou De Guzman, etc.) to read lines from the play. Ms. Avellana is most identified with the role of Candida, having played it first and then countless times on stage (and once on screen, in the film version directed by her husband).
Interspersed with the "Portrait" readings will be musical sequences from Cayabyab-Tinio's "Larawan, the Musical," to be performed by Celeste Legaspi, Carla Martinez, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and May Bayot. Irma Adlawan directs the whole show.
A longer report on my interview with this national treasure comes out this Monday (January 22) in PDI's Arts/Culture section. I'll post here, too, the Q&A, plus excerpts from articles Ms. Avellana wrote many years ago on her trailblazing artistic life from the 1930s-1970s.
Update: "Daisy at 90," published Jan. 22 in PDI, here.
Thursday, 12 noon: Brief interview with National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose for the forthcoming Tanghalang Pilipino production of his novel "The Pretenders," now adapted for the stage by Rody Vera as "Ang Mga Huwad." Romnick Sarmenta leads the cast as the conflicted protagonist Tony Samson. (Tidbit: I accidentally saw Mr. Sarmenta strip to his undies behind a scrim to don his period costume for the presscon. Wala lang.)
Mr. Jose, contrary to his stern reputation, is a genial, folksy gentleman, surprisingly welcoming of contrary views despite his lofty status. How do I know? I've written very lukewarm reviews of three of his approved theater adaptations--TP's "Mass" ("inventive but not particularly illuminating," I said of the play, which starred Yul Servo), Gantimpala Theater's "The Godstealer" and Dulaang Sipat Lawin's "Progress"--and when I finally met him, he said I did well by sticking to my views. Wow. This chat happened late last year when he invited me and Igan D'Bayan of The Philippine Star to visit him at Solidaridad, his bookshop-cum-office, in Ermita. It was a signal honor that we couldn't pass up for the world. My friend Chris, an ardent admirer of Mr. Jose's works, asked to tag along because he wanted to meet the great man. He blogged about it here. I haven't--yet. But I will, promise.
Thursday, 7 pm up: Saw the opening performance of Tanghalang Ateneo's "The Glass Menagerie," Laurice Guillen's stage comeback after 30 years. A historic moment. My full review for the paper will be out in two weeks yet (leaving for a 5-day working trip to Osaka-Kyoto this Sunday). But really, drop everything you're doing now and catch the first great performance of the year at Ateneo's Rizal Mini-Theater. Ms. Guillen rocks.