Sunday, June 08, 2008

Two Ionesco plays from Tanghalang Ateneo

Tanghalang Ateneo jumpstarts its 30th Season, “Echoes,” this July with two modern classics by Eugène Ionesco--“Ang Sopranong Kalbo” (translated by Rolando S. Tinio) and “The Lesson.” The double bill of absurd plays, wildly funny on the surface but sinister in its implications, comes together under the name “?” Two by Ionesco, with the question mark representing the reaction of people who cannot apprehend what the other is saying.

“Ang Sopranong Kalbo” introduces characters--or “non-characters” rather--who engage in silly banter, storytelling and poetry recitation in attempts to relate with one another. “The Lesson,” in turn, is a frustrating attempt by a seemingly harmless professor to teach mathematics and philology to a bright, young girl, an effort that results in violence.

Common to both plays is the horror of miscommunication. In Tanghalang Ateneo’s version of “Kalbo,” however, this horror arises not from the hollowness of identity, as in the original text, but from the hollowness of national identity. In “The Lesson,” the horror comes about as a colonial educator seeks to impose his will on a native subject. The comedy remains, however, as nonsense, noise, with non-sequiturs dominating the text.

“?” showcases the talents of an all-student ensemble. “Kalbo” has Exzell Macomb and Peanuts Valerio playing Mr. and Mrs. Santos, while Gelo Brillantes and Ia Solis play the Martins. Regina de Vera portrays the maid, Marie, alongside Mel Pante who portrays the fireman. “The Lesson” features Mikey Panopio as the Professor, Bea Gulinao as the Pupil and Mon Querubin as the Maid.

Ricardo Abad and BJ Crisostomo co-direct the plays. Set design by Monica Sebial, with Peanuts Valerio and Sam Quizon handling the costume design.

“?” Two by Ionesco runs July 2-5 and July 9-12, 7 p.m., with additional 3 p.m. shows on July 5 and 12, at the Communication Studio of the Ateneo de Manila University. For inquiries, contact Ia Solis at 0916-5415165.

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