The premise of Dear And Unhappy is a simple question: what of Josephine Bracken? Rizal’s wife and / or lover, depending on who you believe. Or depending on your internalized racism against the Irish woman our National Hero was enamored with — it is after all why Bracken remains marginalized in narratives about Jose Rizal’s life; it also has arguably spawned multiple texts about Bracken — the less we know about someone the more exciting our stories about her.
Boses ng Masa is deceptively simple and painfully familiar, which is what’s both good and bad about it: the discussion is worth having, but you can see that ending from a mile away. It’s not that you’ve seen this before, as it is that you have lived it.
The shameless conservatism in Nick Lizaso’s press release about his plans and vision for the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), is ironic when one considers that we have a President who questions Catholicism and dogmatism time and again, and who insists on his freedom of speech – if not his freedom to offend – over and over. President Duterte unilaterally installed Lizaso as CCP head. But even the President himself would not pass the rules and regulations that Lizaso… Continue reading »
President Duterte’s installation of Nick Lizaso as head of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is painfully ironic – if not dangerously so. On the one hand, it is clear that this President doesn’t care much about culture, so one wonders why he would appoint any of his men to these cultural leadership positions. On the other, one can see this as a statement in itself about what Duterte thinks about culture: anyone can lead it, never mind that… Continue reading »
The details are scant, but there is an agenda to be presented to you based on a National Development Meeting for the Arts Summit that happened on September 5. Sadly, if those kinds of exclusive, by-invitation only meetings continue, then this agenda cannot even begin to represent the arts and culture sectors it promises to speak for. As a private endeavor by Njel De Mesa, there’s no way to insist that he open up the summit to all cultural workers;… Continue reading »
Tres Marias made up of Bayang Barrios, Cookie Chua and Lolita Carbon will be having a concert at the Music Museum on September 4, Friday. I have no idea what it’s going to be like, but having seen these women on stage, and reading this piece from 2012, tells me it’s going to be quite a show. Click here for tickets! It would’ve been a random night over at 70’s Bistro, though it was so wrong to even imagine that to be… Continue reading »
I tend to veer away from stories that are out to clutch your heart, and then measure success by how much you bawl while watching. Elsewhere in the world texts like these are criticized for displaying sickness and passing it off as artistic work, or using a particular claim to an ailment and then celebrating the work as “new” or innovative. And so I could but be skeptical about Dani Girl, as I came in to see it on its… Continue reading »
It seems the only way to start this review is to acknowledge – and praise – the Technical Theater Program Batch 111 students of Benilde for having dared and successfully staged and produced 2014’s Fluid. Were the technical aspects of the production the only point, then this was quite a successful theatrical debut for this batch of students. It would also, for the most part, be a successful re-write for contemporary times, something that playwright Floy Quintos talks about in… Continue reading »
I tend to imagine that these times of political and socio-economic crises demand of creative work an amount of relevance, where it is easy to pinpoint films and TV shows and writing that tends towards escapism, refusing to speak of issues that are urgent and important. But escapism is also exactly what we need in times like these, when only the wealthy minority can live oblivious to the rising cost of basic goods and the utter lack of public services,… Continue reading »
My refusal to compare foreign texts with local ones is based on the notion of independence. That is, I’d rather grant a local work with as much individuality as possible, and save it from what — to me — would be a false because unfair comparison with foreign work that I (on most counts) would not have seen anyway. I imagine I can be criticized for having such tunnel vision, or allowing local theater such leeway when critiquing its adaptations.… Continue reading »
I have come to the conclusion that accents are good. It is what I expect of most every Repertory Philippines play, given the texts that they choose to stage, and the truth that it is crucial to the insistence on staging plays set in places far away, if not within a historical period that is alien to a local audience. It is Rep that has taught me that. And with August: Osage County I felt like I was being taught… Continue reading »
It was funny that before I could find where exactly Toilet The Musical was being staged in the Ateneo campus, I first had to happen upon the Rizal Mini Theater where Antigone The Musical was being staged. It made me want to try and get into the latter — for how fun that sounded after all! — but then again, Toilet was making a promise difficult to refuse: it’s an all-original Filipino musical. That it had Ejay Yatco at the helm might be exactly what kept me… Continue reading »
It was difficult to imagine a musical that could use Aegis’s diverse discography, one that spans 15 years of the band’s existence, and seven albums. From posters and press releases it was clear that PETA’s Rak Of Aegis was using the song “Basang-basa sa Ulan” as center, with the obvious premise of … uh … rain to tell what would be a painfully contemporary story for nation. It was difficult to be optimistic, but it sure was easy to get… Continue reading »
the thing with expectation is that it can be your undoing. for watching theater, i refuse to listen to the soundtrack of a musicale, or to read the script (when available) of a play, lest i start singing (or saying those lines) out loud while sitting as audience. sometimes though, the poster, the press release, is all one needs to build excitement. that is true for Repertory Philippines’ Wait After Dark. sold as a suspense thriller, one could also only be excited… Continue reading »
It’s difficult to imagine childhood without Dolphy, even when all he was to me was the image of a father on television, even as who I identified with was Maricel Soriano or Claudine Barretto playing his daughters in two different sitcoms, across two different generations. At some point this father image became interwoven with that of Enteng Kabisote, father to Aiza. The images are real to me, the characterization of fatherhood that was protective but had difficulty providing, that was… Continue reading »
seeing the plays that will kick-off 2014 have reminded me of actors and actresses, performances really, that i actually thought were super galeng, no matter that these might have only happened once for that actor, or three times in 2013. there is also the fact that i’ve promised to be more conscientious about migrating articles and pieces written for elsewhere, to this blog — if only to keep them alive online (local site archival work ain’t that good after all).… Continue reading »
in the last two months of 2013, many theater productions had to compete with an audience that could only be preoccupied: typhoon Haiyan’s victims were in dire need, and one could only feel guilty about veering away from relief operations. “the show must go on” carried the weight of the tragedy outside of theater. so here, a series of reviews that are happening later than expected, because real life took over. kicking it off with 9Works Theatrical‘s Grease.
down to my last seven highs and lows of Pinoy theater in 2013 (counting Maxie The Musical to have been the sixth in the last installment, Lorenzo the fifth, yes, i might be cheating, haha). i realized that instead of many wonderful productions (there was a lack of it for PETA and Repertory Philippines, unlike in 2012), there were performances this year that were just wonderful, some that saved productions from utter ruin.
for most of the year i was writing theater reviews for GMA News Online, which in October came to an end after a good three-year run. the ending was horrid, where my writing was edited to the point of changing what i was saying about Tanghalang Pilipino’s Der Kaufmann and Red Turnip Theater’s Closer – my last two reviews with GMA. these reviews were published after i said that i was resigning as contributor, given other disagreements with the editor of the Lifestyle Section.
NOTE: a version of this review was published in GMA News Online, which begins with a scary em dash that lists down the writer, director, lighting designer and set designer with no explanation as to why, and which uses the word “comparability” — that i never EVER use, because it sounds like … a word Rappler would use (haha!).
NOTE: i’ve been contributing writer for GMA News Online for the past four years, and was always accorded enough respect to have edits pass through me. this is the first time in four years that my work has been so heavily — and badly — edited, with opinions not even mine, paragraphs that establish context removed. a version of this review was published in GMA News Online on October 6, without many sections that establish my assertions about Tanghalang Pilipino’s… Continue reading »
It seems simple enough, a play that is limited to a set that is one room with three beds, all of them occupied by women from different contexts with the most diverse set of needs, cutting as they do across generations. This room is sparsely furnished, has a TV that doesn’t work, stark white sheets that speak as well of the cold cold winter outside. It is in North Dakota as it is in the middle of nowhere. It could… Continue reading »