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The mission of Artist Inc. Center and the gains of community theaters

When the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) presented Edward Perez, head of its national committee on dramatic arts, at a press conference in January to announce the launch of National Arts Month (NAM) in February, I was both proud of and excited for him. Perez spoke about his flagship projects, zeroing in on...

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‘The Reconciliation Dinner’ provides much-needed post-election catharsis

When it comes to “The Reconciliation Dinner,” Floy Quintos’ play on two families at odds with each other’s political views throughout the 2022 national elections, there is a clear target audience: middle- and upper-middle-class Filipinos who spent the past year tiptoeing through uncomfortable or openly hostile political discussions with loved ones. To those who can relate, this production feels like catharsis, with a clarity of information and...

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Dulaang UP’s ‘Rosang Taba’ races against insidious forces

Recently, Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale” again ignited conversations on fatness and body issues, but for all the wrong reasons, precisely because the film offers little to no nuance about the lived experiences of plus-size people, and instead creates a dehumanizing spectacle out of it (see Roxane Gay on the film). It is so demeaning and...

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Socially aware entertainment and theatrical spectacle

It truly feels like prepandemic days when you have to juggle two (or more!) theater events in a day. And at this moment, campuses are leading the charge: Blistering heat notwithstanding, it’s a highly satisfying shuttle between venues on Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. I didn’t really know what to expect from Dulaang UP’s “Kung...

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Peta’s ‘Walang Aray’ balances light drama with spectacular music

The sentiment that drives the Philippine Educational Theater Association’s (Peta) full production of “Walang Aray”—itself a comedic adaptation of Severino Reyes’ 19th-century zarzuela “Walang Sugat”—is a triumphant one. From its title to its celebratory tone, the production proudly announces itself as Peta’s return to live theater unscathed, emphasizing that nothing can replace the experience of...

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‘Carousel’ takes old-fashioned values into the present day

Nearly 80 years since Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Carousel” was first performed on Broadway, the main challenge of restaging this classic musical has become less about creating great performances or doing justice to its score, and more about providing insight into the subject of domestic violence.  Handled poorly, this dark love story between poor carnival barker Billy Bigelow (Gian Magdangal) and innocent mill...

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Italian tenor, Korean diva excited to perform in Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ in Manila

“I am excited to be part of ‘Turandot’ in Manila,” said Italian tenor Alessandro Liberatore, who has arrived for the staging of Puccini’s opera on Dec. 9 and 11 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Theater. Liberatore, who is to sing Calaf, said he was happy to be singing in Manila where Italian opera greats...

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‘Anak Datu’ preserves cultural memory through contradiction

You really wouldn’t be able to tell based solely on its colorful, toy-themed promotional materials, but Tanghalang Pilipino’s “Anak Datu” is a work of proud defiance that speaks to today’s concerns of historical denialism in a direct, patient, and intelligent way.  The play, written by Rody Vera, tells several tales about Muslim Mindanao all at once—including that of the original short story by National Artist Abdulmari Imao; anecdotes about real-life tragedies...

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Stage actor-turned-businessman comes full circle

Ignacio Gimenez who? It’s been seven years since I first heard that name—a donor for a theater to be constructed on the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) grounds. Former CCP vice president and artistic director Chris Millado kept on harping on the edifice before and during the coronavirus pandemic, and continued to push for...

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‘Anak Datu’ untangles web of memory, myth and history

Where does history end and myth begin? How does memory, individual and collective, influence and possibly correct the narration of a people’s history?   These questions are doubly important today, in an era when social media and other digital platforms tend to lump the critical verification of facts with unthinking chismis (gossip). Tanghalang Pilipino’s latest production,...