Monday, June 11, 2007

The plays that got away

REVIEW: Sa Ngalan ng Anak (All My Sons) / Pagbulas ng Sibol (Spring Awakening) / Peregrinations / Philippine Bedtime Stories
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 06.11.2007

Summertime, and the play-going isn't easy.

With students gone for their break or getting ready to, and schools winding down for graduation, theater companies are likewise moved to hunker down for the fallow months with season enders and summer workshops.

The hot months are thus cold comfort for theater lovers, with pickings lean and the runs way too short. Though the first half of the year isn't strictly stasis for theater, the scene itself isn't as varied or busy compared to the second half, when a refreshed industry mounts new works one after the other and various new seasons get underway.

While some major productions like Tanghalang Ateneo's "The Glass Menagerie," Rep's "Song & Dance" and Peta's "Belong Puti" created buzz in recent months, a few others fell by the wayside, largely unnoticed. Here are four plays that deserved better.

Sa Ngalan ng Anak
Jerry Respeto's Filipino translation of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," staged by Amiel Leonardia at Tanghalang Hermogenes Ylagan in UP, ran for only two weeks. What a shame, because this harrowing drama about guilt and punishment, family and social responsibility easily stood out as the best play so far this year. More here...

Pagbulas ng Sibol
It's springtime for Frank Wedekind's scandalous 19th-century play, "Spring Awakening," as the play's musical version (with exhilarating pop-rock music by Duncan Sheik) continues to conquer Broadway, and locally, as drama companies bite their fangs into its sullen, melancholy heart.

Late last year, Tanghalang Ateneo staged a gritty adaptation of Han Ong's "Middle Finger," itself an updating of the Wedekind original. This March, for six days, the play underwent further transfiguration when the Department of Humanities of UP-Los Banos produced "Pagbulas ng Sibol." More here...

Disease, art, memory, beauty and surrender were the weighty themes behind "Peregrinations," an experimental piece of confessional hybrid theater that played for a measly two nights at CCP's Tanghalang Huseng Batute. More here...

Philippine Bedtime Stories
In "Philippine Bedtime Stories," staged for two weekends at Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Japanese actors from Tokyo's Rin Ko Gun theater company and Filipino actors (mostly from Peta and Tanghalang Pilipino) performed six plays: Rene Villanueva's "Walang Iwanan," Lallie Bucoy's "Isang Libong Tula Para sa Dibdib ni Dulce," Vic Torres' "Single Brown Female," Shungiku Uchida's "Ligaya sa Isang Pinoy Bar," and Rody Vera's "Ang Unang Aswang."

These were thoroughly Filipino stories, but their cultural particularity acquired fresh dimensions with a foreign set of artists (under Toshihisa Yoshida's direction) taking a crack at them. More here...


annamanila said...

Hi Gibbs. Do you know of anything playing in UP, Ateneo or anywhere near. I have a balikbayan friend who I want to treat to a pinoy play or concert.

Ty for the reviews. I am sorry that the theater is not jumping.

gibbs cadiz said...

hi ANNA, the only shows about to play are zsazsa zaturnnah at rcbc theater, makati (june 15) and high school musical at meralco theater (july 23). nothing yet that's playing in the UP-ateneo-katipunan loop, as far as i know. but do bring your friend to zzz, i'm very sure he/she would enjoy it. :)

annamanila said...

Ty Gibbs. That's too far. And well, there's this suggestion we will just go for a -- hold your breath -- slumber party sometime this week. haha Better daw for catching up on each other.

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