First, the German connection: By some serendipitous alignment of vision, various theater companies blanketed the city with a glut of Teutonic plays: two Brechts (Tanghalang Pilipino’s “Madonna Brava ng Mindanao,” a reworking of “Mother Courage and Her Children,” and World Theater Project’s “The Threepenny Opera”); two Wedekinds (Dulaang UP’s “Lulu” and Atlantis Productions’ “Spring Awakening,” the Duncan Sheik musical based on the Wedekind play); one Kleist (“Amphitryon”) and one Schiller (“Mary Stuart”), both by Dulaang UP, which must have prompted the wave with its season devoted to German drama.
One more is in the offing—Brecht’s “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui,” set to open in February.
Next, the abundance of powerhouse roles for actresses and the curiously barren scene at the other end of the gender spectrum.
Unlike last year when actors, especially show-stopping veterans, ruled the roost with male-dominant plays such as Gantimpala Theater’s “Hiblang Abo” and TP’s “Mga Gerilya sa Powell Street,” this year’s theatrical pantheon consisted mostly of iconic women: Candida and Paula in Nick Joaquin’s “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino”; Blanche Dubois in Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire”; Elizabeth I and her royal nemesis in “Mary Stuart”; Atang de la Rama in the rerun of Floy Quintos’ paean to the late sarsuwela queen, along with Queen Yolanda in his “Ang Kalungkutan ng Mga Reyna”; Victoria, the hapless matriarch in Israeli playwright Savyon Liebrecht’s “Apples From the Desert”; and, not the least, Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd.”
My Bravo! Best of Theater 2009 round-up in the Monday issue of the Inquirer. Stay tuned.