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.
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 problems of the sectors of arts and culture in this country are multifarious, and there is no doubt that any of us cultural workers who are at the bottom of the totem pole can only believe in the possibilities of change, and look forward to it, too. Many of us try and work towards that change, but if cultural work is your bread and butter – and you’re not one of the lucky ones who comes from privilege to… 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 »
I wasn’t very good at doing arts and culture in the country the past year. But here’s a list of the strange, the good, the surprising in culture for 2015, not at all a best or worst list because … see the first sentence. First a critical aside: having worked as dramaturg for Kleptomaniacs and a bit with Tanghalang Pilipino in 2014 meant keeping the theater reviews to a minimum in 2015. I needed that time to let go of the little inside stories that I know,… 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 »
this year was the first time i even cared enough to go to Gawad Buhay, and that is really because of a good three things: my love for Tuxqs Rutaquio, my love of Layeta Bucoy, and my new-found discovery of and respect for the kind of hard work that Tanghalang Pilipino’s Actors Company stands for. which is of course to wear my heart on my sleeve (obvious ba), and really to point at some of my good ol’ biases, the… 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 »
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!).
Is its age. There is something extraordinary of course about having the music of “Katy” jammed in my head. Like muscle memory the first strains of music from the live band had me tapping my feet and bobbing my head. The lyrics came rushing back soon enough.
…Which, if we think about it, actually makes sense. Its subject matter is Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesian novelist, jailed by the Suharto regime for his writings, the closest a Southeast Asian has come to being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
If there’s one play that had everything going against it, it just might be this one. After all, much ado about Cherie Gil playing Mrs. Robinson happened at the launch of Repertory Philippines’ current theater season. And that is to say: Cherie Gil.
Did I mention talent? Because it’s true that the datedness of a text such as this, set in the 1970s, is wont to mean an amount of disengagement with its unfolding on a current stage. And yet, as with many things that are fiction(al) to us, there is the task of falling head first into an unfamiliar story’s telling, and finding that it can be absolutely enjoyable.The cast of ‘No Way To Treat A Lady’ reminds us that sometimes five… Continue reading »