For the Children's Plays portion of the Virgin Labfest, I had Neil aka Q the Conqueror to squire around. Actually, he was a replacement. Someone else had reserved the slot but then backed out, leaving me with the prospect of an unused ticket. Neil's e-mail came in the nick of time.
The schedule was 3 in the afternoon at CCP. Neil texted around 12:30 p.m., when I was still dead in bed, to say he was already on his way to the venue. Strange guy, I thought, to be rushing so early. Apparently he had a good reason. This "innocent Atenista" had never been to the CCP, and was only commuting.
In his blog post "The Quest to see Children's Plays at CCP--A prelude," he writes, "I had one big problem... I don’t know how to commute to the CCP. I asked my brother, and he gave me pointless instructions. I asked Civet as well, but I got even more confused. Then, when I left home, and rode the jeep, I asked the ultimate authority--Manong Driver, the magic way to CCP."
He did find his way, and we got to watch the plays. Neil, a Business Management student at the Ateneo, obviously knows his theater (and his literature and pop culture!). He's seen the major productions of Tanghalang Ateneo, BlueRep and Entablado all in his home turf, and judging from his review of the children's plays, his appraisal skills can produce detailed and to-the-point observations:
On James Cansanay's "Kung Ipagpalit si Tatay:" This is the Filipino adaptation of the Neil Gaiman story "The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish." The play is very whimsical. From the start, we see the lead, Nonoy, dressed in complete Naruto costume (complete to the hair), likewise, his sister is dressed as Sakura. There is extensive use of shadowplay to signify the metamorphosing of mundane objects into their more mystical counterparts (re: violin to extremely weird guitar-thing). The acting was really good, but I felt the script lacking somehow, maybe its really just meant for children. Disturbing scenes: The shadowplay of brother and sister riding the scooter together, it looked like he was humping her. Mom to Dad at the end: "Ako na bahala sa itlog mo."
On Rene Villanueva's "Bertdey ni Guido:" This is the best play among all three. It is the only interactive play I’ve watched, wherein audience members are turned into props and have to act as such (Gibbs became a sandwich tray holder, someone became a telephone, a TV, a tank and another became Marcos). The monologues were very entertaining, not to mention all the song-and-dance numbers. The play is also very instructional, teaching kids about what happened during martial law and helping them relate to the hardships of that era. The only disturbing thing there was that Guido, is muscular and has underarm hair. Hehehe. After watching this, you will either crave for coke, spaghetti, hotdog and ice cream, or have that song playing in your head over and over and over. Disturbing Scene: The yaya pats her ass insinuating that she will do ANYTHING "kuya" tells her to do.
On Niel De Mesa's "Mga Obra ni Maestra:" Anime is a very popular medium nowadays so much so that even mainstream cartoon channels like Cartoon Network, Disney and Nickelodeon are imitating the art through their shows Teen Titans, Totally Spies and Avatar, the last Airbender. Making anime series or movies is nothing new either, in Japan, the "Prince of Tennis" musical has already been playing for a long time. There has also been two Deathnote movies and a POT movie. What is astounding and amazing however, is an anime play being made here in the Philippines. Such an enterprise would open the theatre towards the younger generation who can find it hard to relate to "Florante at Laura" or "Oedipus Rex." What this play lacks for in plot, it more then makes up in spirit (not to mention that the best actress among the three is just 10 years old and memorizing all those Japanese lines! Shit!) Disturbing scenes: Lots of half-naked teenagers acting as the enemies in the finale (It wasn’t really disturbing but I liked it a lot... and I do mean a lot).
(Read his complete entry here.)
Neil, thanks a lot, 'twas a pleasure! When you've become that big-time chicken-skin chicharon entrepreneur that you're dreaming of now, do be a Virgin Labfest sponsor. *Grin*