Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tanghalang Ateneo's 'The Death of Memory'

Tanghalang Ateneo goes contemporary Filipino in "The Death of Memory," the second production of the company's 29th season. Written by Glenn Mas, "The Death of Memory" is a Palanca prize-winning play and an awarded thesis production at the Catholic University of America. Tanghalang Ateneo's staging would be the play's Philippine premiere production.

In the play, four people are trapped in a nowhere land where time has stopped, and with no memory of how they got there, and no idea on how to get out. Each one carries a painful and violent memory--sexual abuse, abandonment, murder--that assaults them at unpredictable moments and ties them to this purgatorial prison.

A Keeper holds them in this limbo. At one point, the newly arrived man, Juan, incites his fellow prisoners to defy the Keeper and escape from memory. Will they be able to free themselves? How? This intense and imaginative play examines the strength of the human will to live and choose, to fight against paralyzing pasts, and to move on.

Ralph Quiblat and Brian Sy alternate as the newcomer, Juan, while Rachel Quong and Margarita Paje play the Keeper, the ethereal guardian of the nowhere land. The rest of the faculty cast are Randy Solis, Dianne Laserna, Miguel Lizada and Angela Serrano. The other student actors are BJ Crisostomo, Regina Francisco, Nicolo Magno and Gianna Villavicencio.

Director Ricardo Abad and production designer Salvador Bernal depart from their Asian motifs to create an abstract world replete with surreal and violent images. Joining them are choreographer Matthew Santamaria, lighting designer Jonjon Villareal, and sound and graphic designer Reamur David. Katski Flores, Cinemalaya 2007 finalist for the film "Still Life," incorporates film images of the character's memories.

"The Death of Memory" runs November 29-December 1, Dec. 4-8, and Dec. 11-15, 7 p.m., with additional 2 p.m. shows on December 1, 8 and 15, at the Rizal Mini-Theater of the Ateneo de Manila University. For inquiries, contact Shiela Concina at 0915-5715665 or the Rizal Mini-Theater at 4266001 local 5121. Because of the adult theme and the graphic images, the play is for mature audiences only.

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