Post 481

When epic poems take the form of modern-day musicals, the erstwhile  imagination limited to an individual listener brought by orality turns into something visually performative enjoyed collectively by an audience. Here in a scene of the musical version of the Ilocano epic Biag ni Lam-ang, the hero is swallowed to his death by a giant fish.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 475

The Spanish setting of Federico Garcia Lorca’s La Casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba) easily fits the Philippine social environment because of the common conservative Catholic experience.

Bernarda Alba (Frances Makil-Ignacio) torments her all-female household with her controlling nature, which is influenced by the prevailing repression against women.

This was staged by Dulaang UP, directed by Alexander Cortez.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 472

The dysfunctional political climate of the Philippines has its origins in the formation of the first republic, the obvious theme of the musical Mabining Mandirigma. Apolinario Mabini (Monique Wilson) counsels President Emilio Aguinaldo (David Ezra) who repeatedly falls for the schemes of the ilustrado elite.

Mabining Mandirigma was directed by Chris Millado from the libretto by Nicanor Tiongson and music by Joed Balsamo.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 470

If He Doesn’t See Your Face by Suzue Toshiro is a domestic story set inside the strict Japanese prison visiting facility room. Here, the couple – the man being the prisoner – talk about family life and son, and reaffirm their love.

This was staged at the Areté arts hub of the Ateneo de Manila University, directed by Ricardo Abad, and starred by Brian Matthew Sy and Delphine Buencamino.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 461

In this scene from Laro (literally Game), an adaptation of A. Schnitzler’s La Ronde, the Model (Jay Gonzaga) tells his tale of having to pursue perfection because of his beauty while the Philanthropist (Vince de Jesus) disdains hearing pitiful stories – he rather seeks flaws for he finds perfection boring. The play casts the spotlight on gay life in conservative Philippines. The play is written by Floy Quintos.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 404

One can only imagine the sheer pain that a desaparecido has gone through. Those who survived torture by government agents have narrated many tales, our only hint of what could have happened to the missing. Theatre performances could recreate such scenes but they are noway near to the real and palpable horrors of political persecution. Below is from the theatre adaptation of the novel Desaparesidos by Lualhati Bautista.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 351a

One of the best plays I’ve seen this year (half of it) is Floy Quintos’s Angry Christ (directed by Dexter Santos). It is about the American painter, rather of Filipino descent, Alfonso Ossorio’s period of artistic metamorphosis while doing a mural in their family’s chapel in Negros island. The play’s book is rich in real and imaginative details of the struggles for identity and expression (both artistic and gender).

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 331a

This is a scene from Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, staged by Tanghalang Pilipino. Here, Orpheus (Marco Viaña) returns to the underworld, clueless of the second death of his wife Eurydice (Lhorvie Nuevo). As memories are impermissible in the underworld, they can no longer recognise their bond in the living world nor feel the warmth of their short-lived love.

Photo by I.R. Arenas

Post 322a

Roxane (KL Dizon) and Christian (Edward Benosa) meet at a war encampment, while Cyrano (Boo Gabunada), who secretly loves Roxane, looks from afar. Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac is translated and adapted into Filipino as the musical Mula sa Buwan. Unrequited love seems a universal motif in stories that proves to quell the pangs of heartbreak, as one learns that others endure the feeling, too.

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Photo by I.R. Arenas