1. Big congratulations to two people I know who've just won first-place berths in this year's Palancas: Dumaguete-based writer and teacher Ian Casocot, for his Short Story-English entry titled Things You Don't Know, and all-around creative force Floy Quintos, whose play Ang Kalungkutan ng Mga Reyna, widely praised in the recently concluded Virgin Labfest 4, topped the Filipino One-Act Play category. In his Labfest review for the Inquirer, Walter Ang wrote of Ang Kalungkutan: “Surreal, funny and full-to-the-bite with strong writing and strong acting, this production was hands down the best of the bunch.”
Now, what's this I hear that the awards organizers have decided not to do an excerpt of Floy's play during the awards night (a Palanca tradition) for fear that its storyline--about a power-addled, possibly mad, woman president--might incur the ire of government officials who would be in attendance? Aysus, ginuu. I saw the play, and I can say with certainty that being topical, parochial or baldly political is farthest from its designs. Only the most presumptuous, or the most paranoid, would think it's about themselves or their minions. Then again, unintended or not, art has an uncanny way of pushing buttons and hitting nerves--especially among those already jittery with guilt. As show-biz hands would put it, “Aminin!”
(Dean Alfar has a list of 2008 winners--at least the known ones so far, since no official announcement has been made yet.)
2. Playwright Tim Dacanay reviews Anton Juan's Hinabing Pakpak ng Ating Mga Anak, which had its closing show last Sunday, here. Juan had said he wrote the play as an elegy to the late and much-loved playwright Rene Villanueva, known for his work in children's theater and the iconic TV show Batibot. “Namina ni Juan ang maraming akda ni Rene... Nakababagabag ngunit di nawawalan ng pag-asa, ang dula ay isang natatanging pagpugay sa minamahal nating guro na ng huling hiling ay pangalagaan ang batang Pilipino. Sinimulan na ni Anton Juan, dagdagan pa natin, mga kapatid!”
3. Theater practitioner, teacher and critic Joey Ting, in a brief but biting appraisal of Broadway Asia's Cinderella in yesterday's issue of the Manila Times: “Perhaps, the staging did not focus enough on basic storytelling. Compelling and emotive stories suspend one’s disbelief by immersing audiences in emotion and involving them in the protagonists’ travails. Instead, this play relies [on] technology, lavish spectacle and precise artistry to induce hypnosis.” (A longer version can be found in his blog.)
4. Student bloggers share their impressions of PETA's Noli at Fili Dekada 2000: “Wonderful, very effective,” says RonLaw. “The actors were so great, [and] PETA is amazing!,” raves claudesantos. And Cloeu writes, “Ang ganda ng pagkagawa and magagaling ang actors and actresses. Ginawang modern ung Noli at Fili pero maganda pa din.”
What say you? The play runs until August 24, with shows on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets at P300 each. Call 7256244, 4100821, 0917-8154567, 0917-5642433, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.petatheater.com.
I'll reserve my thoughts on Hinabi, Cinderella and Noli at Fili for a forthcoming review in the paper. Memo to the muses: Clear my mind of clutter, dang it.