Rody Vera is running around like a man possessed these days. There are a thousand details to attend to, photo shoots to grace, rehearsals to check out and showdates to finalize as he and the Writers' Bloc, together with the Cultural Center of the Philippines and its resident theater company Tanghalang Pilipino, gear up for the Virgin Labfest, now on its third year.
The Labfest is a modest festival of "untried, untested, unpublished and unstaged" plays that are culled from the twice-monthly critical readings that members of the Writers' Bloc hold among themselves. Its first two incarnations offered 15 new one-act plays; this year, the repertoire has expanded, with 18 plays (including three from visiting foreign playwrights) as well as staged readings and platform events, all to be held in various venues at the CCP.
The festival will unfold in five sets consisting of three plays each, plus one independently produced trilogy, each set clustered loosely around a theme. Vera and Dennis Marasigan, Tanghalang Pilipino's artistic director, curated the material. Vera says his criteria for inclusion are quite basic.
"One, the play must run for a maximum of 40 minutes. Anything beyond that will disrupt the running time of the other two plays. Two, in that span of time, nakumpleto ba ang istorya, nabuhol ba ng tama? Me arc ba? And third, we're looking for something that's not been done yet. Kung sala set drama man yan, me nagawa ba siyang kakaiba?"
He cites as an example George Vail Kabristante's "My Padir Is an OCW," part of the third set of plays, "XX and X: Babala: Hindi Pang-Isip Bata," that's scheduled to run for four performances on June 30 and July 5-6.
"It has interesting characters, about transvestites and dancers. It has the usual locations, but George has a different take on it. Ang feeling nga niya drama ang play niya, but tingin namin comedy siya!" More here...
PLUS: The Virgin Labfest's show schedules here.