MANILA, Philippines – Theater artists, practitioners and enthusiasts are expected to join this year’s National Theater Festival (NTF) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which will kick off on Thursday.
Now on its 20th year, the NTF aims to showcase the growing achievements of Philippine theater. The 10-day event will feature performances, a conference, exhibits and film screenings.
Leading theater groups and performers from all over the country will present a variety of productions. Among them are the Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation Inc. from Bulacan, Bohol Antequera and Marijoboc Cultural Collectives in cooperation with Teatro Bol-Anon from Bohol, cultural activist Carlos Celdran, Dulaang UP of the University of the Philippines, Gantimpala Theater Foundation, Integrated Performing Arts Guild of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, Mindanao State University Kabpapagariya Ensemble from General Santos City, Philippine Educational Theater Association or PETA, Sipat Lawin Ensemble, Tanghalang Ateneo of the Ateneo de Manila University, Tanghalang Pilipino, The Xavier Stage of Cagayan de Oro, and Trumpets Inc.
There will also be performances by the Kanlaon Theater Guild of Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod, Silly People’s Improv Theater or SPIT, and ventriloquists Ony Carcamo and Wanlu.
This year’s NTF will also feature plays that were made into films, and films that started out as plays. These include “Insiang” and “Bona” by National Artist for Film Lino Brocka, “Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” by National Artist for Film Lamberto Avellana, Dennis Marasigan’s “North Diversion Road,” “Anatomiya ng Korupsyon” and Joel Lamangan’s “ZsaZsa Zaturnnah Ze Moveeh.”
Meanwhile, an NTF conference will be held from November 8 to 10 at the CCP Silangan Hall, where theater scholars, academicians and practitioners will present papers on relevant contemporary issues and concerns related to Philippine theater.
Below is the schedule of events in this year’s NTF:
AT THE TANGHALANG AURELIO TOLENTINO
Stageshow by Tanghalang Pilipino
When: November 8 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. (invitational)
What: Mario O’Hara’s raunchy homage to the twilight years of an almost forgotten entertainment form starring real-life thespian couple Sharmaine Centenera and Nonie Buencamino and a host of celebrities in special cameo appearance. Choreographed by Denisa Reyes and directed by Chris Millado. (Read a review of “Stageshow” here.)
|The cast of "Stageshow" acknowledge playwright Mario O'Hara (shown on screen) during the gala night of the new play at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Saturday. Photo from the Facebook page of Tanghalang Pilipino Foundation
Duha Ka Alimpo Sa Habagat… Bohol 1700 (Two Eyes of the Monsoon Storm) by Bohol Antequera and Maribojoc Cultural Collectives in cooperation with Teatro Bol-anon
When: November 9 at 8 p.m. and November 10 at 3 p.m.
What: A musical take on the early history of Bohol with original music by multi-awarded director and composer Lutgardo Labad.
Sintang Dalisay by Tanghalang Ateneo
When: November 11 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
What: William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” transposed to an imaginary Muslim village pulsates anew with the rhythms of traditional dance, martial arts and the kulintang brass gong. Directed by Ricardo Abad.
Kakarong (Musical) by Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation Inc.
When: November 13 at 8 p.m. and November 14 at 3 p.m.
What: A new sarswela musical depicting the courage of Filipinos during one of the bloodiest episodes of the revolution.
William by PETA
When: November 15 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
What: The bard’s famous monologues energetically reincarnated through hiphop, crumping, breakdancing and rap. The award-winning production is written by Ron Capinding and directed by Maribel Legarda. (Read a review of “William” here.)
|A scene from "William." Photo from the Facebook page of PETA
Mind’s Eye by Trumpets
When: November 16 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
What: An 80-year-old drama teacher and an angry 16-year-old paralytic embark on an imaginary trip to Italy where they explore new truths and face the pain of their realities.
Orosman at Zafira by Dulaang UP
When: November 17 at 8 p.m. and November 18 at 3 p.m.
What: The critically acclaimed contemporary reimagining of Francisco Balagtas’ classic work directed and choreographed by Dexter M. Santos and with original music by Carol Bello.
AT THE TANGHALANG HUSENG BATUTE
Dula Ta by MSU Kabpapagariya Ensemble
When: November 9 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
What: The Mindanao conflict told from the point of view of the innocents.
Uwahig by the Integrated Performing Arts Guild
When: November 10 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
What: The Mindanawon Indarapatra epic and the Bukidnon water legend transports the degradation brought about by war and the abuse of environment into mythic realms.
The Return of the Comeback of the New and Improved Newly Scented Haring +Ubu-L by Sipat Lawin Ensemble
When: November 11 at 7 p.m.
What: Devised from Alfred Jarry’s avant-garde play “Ubu Roi” (Ubu the King), this interactive, fun and filthy power play is set inside a toilet bowl. Designed by Leeroy New and directed by JK Anicoche.
Walang Kukurap by Tanghalang Pilipino
When: November 13 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
What: The murderous tale of small town politics is based on testimonies from whistleblowers and anonymouos syndicate insiders. Playwright Layeta Bucoy collaborates with the Actor’s Company in crafting this political house of horrors. Directed by Tuxqs Rutaquio. (Read a review of “Walang Kukurap” here.)
| “Walang Kukurap” is a dark play about politics and corruption in the Philippines. Photo from the Facebook page of Tanghalang Pilipino
Isa Pang Kawing by The Xavier Stage
When: November 15 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
What: A play on betrayal of trust and confidence motivated and conditioned by tradition, politics, gender and abuse of power. Written by Steven Patrick Fernandez and directed by Hobart Savior.
Sayaw ng mga Seniorita by Gantimpala Theater Foundation
When: November 16 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
What: Adapted from the groundbreaking play “Boys in the Band” by Matt Crowley, this revival once again strikes a tragicomic resonance in the gay scene and patois of current day Manila.
|BB Gandanghari and other cast members of the upcoming play "Sayaw ng mga SENIORita." Photo from the Gantimpala Theater Foundation's Facebook page
Bata Batute by Ony Carcamo and Wanlu
When: November 17 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
AT THE SILANGAN HALL
Livin’ La Vida Imelda by Carlos Celdran
When: November 11, 13 and 15 at 7 p.m.
What: The irrepressible and irreverent Carlos Celdran takes on the life and times of you-know-who. Designed and conceived by Carlos Celdran.
Free Admission: Hindi Kami Pobre, KSP Lang (An Improvised Show on the Struggles of Making a Living through Art in Contemporary Philippines) by SPIT
When: November 16 at 7 p.m.
AT THE MAIN RAMP
Battalia Zero a.k.a. Battalia Royal ver. Zero by Sipat Lawin Ensemble
When: November 14 at 7 p.m.
What: Loosely adapted from Koushun Takami’s “Battle Royale,” this interactive, site-specific production is a collaborative effort between international playwrights David Finnigan, Jordan Prosser, Sam Burns-Warr, Georgie McAulye and the Sipat Lawin Ensemble.
Circulo by Kanlaon Theater Guild
When: November 9 at 7 p.m.
Tickets to performances at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino and Silangan Hall are regularly priced at P800 each, while those at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute are priced at P500 per person. Students get a 50% discount, while senior citizens, persons with disabilities, government employees and military personnel get a 20% discount. Performances at the CCP Main Ramp are free.