Monday, March 05, 2007

Savage plays, itinerant arts

Philippine Daily Inquirer, 03.05.2007

The Ma-yi Theater Company's "Savage Stage" anthology and CCP's "Lakbay Sining" stories expand perspectives on Asian-American and Filipino cultures, respectively

In 2005, the Ford Foundation launched a new grant-making program for the arts called Artography. Its stated goal was “to recognize, strengthen, and reflect on exemplary artistic and organizational practice as seen through the lens of changing demographics in the United States.”

In other words, the grant “aims to investigate the creation of art in a fast-changing USA—how the changing demographics, ethnicities, mixed marriages and all that impact on the creation of art, and not just due to ethnicity but also because of the new types of tools available—video, film, puppetry, installation art, theater,” explains Jorge Ortoll.

Ortoll is the executive director of the Ma-yi Theater Company of New York, a troupe founded and run by Filipino artists and dedicated to staging all-original works by Asian-American playwrights. He can speak knowledgeably about Artography, because out of some 500 arts institutions across America who were invited to apply for program grants, Ma-yi was one of only nine that were eventually chosen...

Nine of the plays that Ma-yi has successfully staged since its founding in 1989 now appear in book form, “Savage Stage,” an anthology edited by Joi Barrios-Leblanc. The book, one of the projects Ma-yi has undertaken in the wake of its Artography grant, features a pan-Asian repertoire—plays by US-based Filipinos, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, even one co-written with an American playwright. More here...

Another book that deserves space in any theater buff’s bookshelf is the recently launched “Lakbay Sining: Readings on Cultural Development in the Philippines,” published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines with Anvil Publishing.

The book is a collection of stories related to the CCP’s Outreach and Exchange Program, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2004. It was this program that helped CCP shed its image as an elitist, Imeldific enclave by bringing to the country’s far-flung provinces plays and musical performances that previously were only accessible in Manila. Conversely, it also spearheaded efforts to cultivate grass-roots and community efforts in the arts, giving heritage and creative groups in the provinces the chance to interact with and appreciate each other’s artistic activities.

“Lakbay Sining”’s stories are written by contributors who were in the thick of the action themselves.

“Duyan ng Magiting” by Armando Sta. Ana offers a thorough accounting of the many programs Bulacan initiated in its pioneering push to preserve its rich history and culture. Acclaimed playwright Malou Jacob writes in “The Descent of Philippine Theater” how this art form “lost its healing power” and how it can retrieve its place in community ritual and consciousness...

Chinggay Jasareno-Bernardo, in her introduction to this collection of stories, calls “Lakbay Sining” “a treasure trove of insights and discussions about art practice and processes in the Philippine provinces.” It is that, and so much more—a profile of the Filipino artist as unsung hero of our age. More here...

PLUS: Tony Hila in today's PDI writes of UP Playwrights Theater's "Basilia ng Malolos:" "The sarswela is for keeps, and deserves many repeats!" He praises its "powerful cast," Jose Estrella's "adept direction," Joy Marfil's "eloquent tour de force" music, and playwright Nicanor Tiongson's "familiarity with this particular genre both as creator and critic," someone who "definitely knows his métier." The play is on extended run this weekend at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater, UP Diliman. Call 9261349 or 9818500 loc. 2449/2450 for tickets.

5 comments:

petite said...

hi, gibbs!

thanks for mentioning this book. i've added it in my list of books to buy when we go home to the philippines for vacation this year. :-)

pau said...

thanks for the tip - "lakbay sining". in attending theater plays and concerts, traveling to different parts of the country, studying creative nonfiction and phil. visual arts and interviewing the artists themselves, i've been discovering how TRULY rich our culture is. i totally agree with you when you dub the filipino artist as "the unsung hero of our age". i've been searching for a contemporary book that chronicles just that, to guide me more in my own cultural discoveries and writings. "lakbay sining" will be a great help.

thank you for dedicating your blog, your writings, to reminding us all how truly great the Pinoy artist is!

beektur said...

i saw romance of magno rubio in chicago with bernardo bernardo in the cast. it was one of the most moving, aweet, poignant productions i have seen. bernardo's theater talent shone through. later on, i bumped into him in new york at 12 am. he was with carmen pequena and lorli villanueva, they were a blast. of course, considering carmen was pro-marcos (and lorli, too, i think) the conversation was too animated and bitchy.

also: when i followed Basilian's link to PDI, the first thing that caught my eyes was the picture of women with their raised hands -- in defiance? as protest sign? time for deodorant? two things that should be taken out of any pinoy stage production permanently: raised arms and flag waving.

i told pamela, if ever i see any touring pinoy group or local pinoy-am companies wave the philippine flag on stage during production, i swear, i will jump on stage and yank it from the actor. then scream: tama na, sobra na, mag-isip na ng ibang ideya!

lateralus said...

Hi Gibbs. :) I had no idea the theater world was so cutthroat.

I think you're a shoo in for you category in the Philippine Blog Awards. I'm rooting for you, man.

GO GIBBS! hehe. :p

Anonymous said...

THIS IS SOOOO BOOOORING!!!

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