Theaterbatoring DL's 'May Pakpak ang Oras'

thoughts on dulaang laksambayanan's "may pakpak ang oras at iba pang dula ni david ives"
by walter ang
march 28, 2011
theaterbator.blogspot.com

Cast of "May Pakpak ang Oras at
iba pang mga dula ni David Ives."
Image from the DL Facebook account
in american slang, the word “word” can mean “yes”—a general utterance of agreement.  dulaang laksambayanan’s charming staging of “may pakpak ang oras at iba pang dula ni david ives” shows the disagreements that also come with or as the result of (spoken) words.

the group has thoughtfully curated four of american playwright david ives’ one-act plays into a single show.  the title of the first play quickly establishes the wordplay that cuts across all four, a story of two mayflies who realize they only have one day to live: “time flies” (translated to “may pakpak ang oras”).

ives sure is smitten by words.  in fact, his other plays (not included in this show) have titles like “words, words, words” and “the universal language.”

in “may pakpak,” the two mayflies exclaim terms like “carpe diem” and talk about going to “paris,” only to immediately ask each other what those words mean (since they’ve only been alive for less than a day).

words are further deliberated in the second play, “babel, babel… pa’no ka ginawa?” (“babel’s in arms”), with ives’ take on two workers at the construction site of the tower of babel.  as characters break into gibberish without warning nor explanation, confusion and hilarity ensues.

words get their spectacle showcase in the third installment “sure thing,” as a man and woman try to get to know each other as they repeat and revise their lines ad infinitum.

the piece is fun to watch and impressive to see unfold as the two actors go over lines when signaled by a bell that rings faster and faster until it’s a frenzied blast.  one can only imagine the concentration needed by the actors to remember which repetition they’re already at.

it’s a great counterpoint to the first play which deals with a singular chance at love bound by time; this one ponders the possibility of infinite chances to grab love.

while “may pakpak” opens the show with a message of hope, the show ends with “abangan ang susunod na kabanta” (“captive audience”), a trippy cautionary tale of how words (via mass media— in this case, represented by a tv set) can be a dangerous brainwashing weapon.

this one mirrors the second play, highlighting the use of words as weapons of domination and obfuscation.

ives is heavy on repetitive dialogue, something that’s ripe for annoying audiences, but the directors (each play has a different director) pace the show well, adeptly timing the multiple loops for emphasis, for lulls, for set-ups to punchlines, etc.

through collaborative translation, the group allows tagalog and taglish to carry the stories.  the translation presents conversational, colloquial tagalong that fits ives’ quirky humor, though sometimes, the retention of some american cultural markers (for example, mention of three ivy league universities instead of their local counterparts; or the whole bit on walnuts for the last play) sounds/feels slightly jarring.

across these seemingly harmless and funny skits are underlying launchpads of discussion on sexual relations, the finiteness of life, capitalism, exploitation and mass media hegemony. (and of course, academics will invariably analyze the semantics and semiotics that the texts present.)

lead by artistic director joshua so and executive director terrie martinez, all the current members of the group are new (though dl has been in existence intermittently).  this is perhaps why the ensemble gives somewhat unequal levels of performances, but definitely all with conviction, sincerity and the indelible feeling that they’re having fun (which rubs off on the audience).

mark anthony dacena’s original music is fresh and appropriate.  it not so much scores the text as it intertwines with it, highlighting and driving the action forward.

the group wraps up the show with a devised sound-and-movement piece where the entire cast descends on to the stage and repeats key phrases from their respective plays, showing the audience the complex crazy world that we create with and deal in words.  word.

dulaang laksambayanan’s next production is “a season of ten thousand noses”based on the short story by charlson ong, scheduled for april 2011.  contact 0916-4123137 or dulaanglaksambayananinc@gmail.com.

Republikha Gallery holds inaugural exhibit

Republikha Gallery holds inaugural exhibit
By Walter Ang 
March 28, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Republikha Gallery will have an inaugural group show titled "Departure" featuring 16 artists. Gallery founder and owner Jenery Lim, who produces Benevita cocosugar and coconectar on the side, says, "I fused the words "republika" and "likha," since the Philippines is a republic of creative people."

Lim became interested in art in the mid 2000s. "The first painting I bought was a Marcel Antonio acrylic on paper," he says. "Actually, I bought two of them at the same time. I haven't looked back since."

The more paintings he collected, the more people he met. The more people he met, the more support grew when the arts community found out he wanted to put up his own gallery. "I wanted to set up shop in Quezon City instead of the usual Pasay or Makati City," say Lim.

He notes there is growth in the market and more galleries across the city will help add to awareness and exposure to potential Filipinos "whether just for appreciation or for investments and collections."

Michael Muñoz, an "artist-friend" of Lim's, designed the gallery interiors and Frederick Sausa, who recently wrapped up a group show in Hong Kong, was tasked to curate the gallery's kick-off show.

"Departure can be pigeonholed as displacement, alienation, relocation, derivation in a geographical setting," says Sausa. "But it can also be a metaphor. It delves into the idea of the act of leaving and searching. We invited 16 artists to do works according to their own whims and personal styles and without particular thematic approach."

Participants are Allan Balisi, Mica Cabildo, Rolf Campos, Mariano Ching, Dex Fernandez, Dina Gadia, Eugene Jarque, Jacob Lindo, Dave Lock, Keiye Miranda, Arturo Sanchez Jr., Isidro Santos, Erik Sausa, Wire Tuazon, Mac Valdizno.

"It is the gallery's goal to be a world-class art gallery," says Lim. "We plan to work with the best curators and showcase the best artists the Philippines has to offer."

"Departure" opens March 30 at Repulikha Art Gallery, Unit 102 Magnitude Building, E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave., Quezon City. Call 5438807 or visit www.republikha.com.

Also published online:
http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/artsandbooks/artsandbooks/view/20110328-327972/Republikha-Gallery-holds-inaugural-exhibit

World peace and justice through dance; Airdance's 'Body Politics: Declaration'

World peace and justice through dance
By Walter Ang
March 21, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Airdance is staging "Body Politics: Declaration" to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The group will be performing eight compositions inspired by articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"We're steering clear from plotless, abstract, it-is-whatever-you-want-it-to-be pieces," says artistic director Ava Maureen Villanueva. "For this show, the company presents its stand and position against social injustice."

Airdance is composed of dance artists of varied backgrounds from classical and modern ballet, to jazz and ballroom, to hip-hop, breakdance, martial arts and gymnastics.

"What's nice about Airdance is, we really try be versatile in all the dance genres even if we are known for our strength in contemporary dance," says Villanueva.

"When you have to define what 'contemporary dance' means, there are many possible answers. Contemporary dance is not associated with any specific dance techniques like in classical ballet, but rather with a dance philosophy. In contemporary dance, dancers or choreographers attempt to explore the natural energy and emotions of their bodies to produce dances which are often very personal."

Awareness and discrimination
The UDHR, adopted by the United Nations in the late 1940s, represents the "first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled," and is part of the International Bill of Human Rights.

"People from all over the world are suffering from oppression, hunger, and discrimination. There can't be a more fitting time to stand up and move against all these," she says.

"This production is a conscious effort to contradict the notion that artists, dancers especially, have no awareness and concern for the greater good, hence the discrimination against the arts for not having any social relevance. This is a campaign against that discrimination in dance in our society."

"Declaration" will feature the choreography of Villanueva; Airdance associate artistic directors Rhosam Prudenciado Jr. and Jed Amihan; and choreographers Mia Cabalfin, Avel Bautista, Alfred Mercado, Jojo Guzman and Johnny Amar.

"We do not promise to bring about world peace, nor can we end starvation but allow us to assert our right to freedom of opinion and expression (be it verbal or otherwise) in the best way we know how, through dance," she adds.

Airdance is a member company of Contemporary Dance Network Philippines and is active in the network's annual performances such as the Contemporary Dance Map series and the Wifi Body Independent Contemporary Dance Festival.

The group has represented the Philippines at the World Expo, Japan and the Asia Arts Festival, China. The company is a two-time Aliw Award winner of the Best Dance Company (Modern) category.

Earlier this year, company members Alfred Mercado and Anna Agawa competed in the "Yokohama Dance Collection EX 2011" competition in Japan. They were selected as finalists from over 80 entries from five different countries (Japan, Estonia, Korea, Cuba and the Philippines).

Intensive workshop
Airdance will also hold a six-week intensive dance training program culminating in a recital. Classes offered includes Jazz (beginners and advanced); Contemporary (beginners and advanced); Streetdance (beginners and advanced); and Breakdance.

The workshop will run April 4-May 22, with a break on April 17-25 for the Holy Week.

"Airdance's Summer Dance Workshops has always proven to be a fun, enjoyable and learning experience for its students. Not only do they get the physical benefits of dance training—grace, flexibility, coordination, strength, cardiovascular endurance—but they also develop poise and stage presence," says Villanueva.

"Preparing and performing for a live audience requires that the student develop self-discipline and respect for fellow students. Airdance firmly believes that these are habits that they will carry on to their personal, academic and professional lives."

The training program is accepting scholars who pass auditions. Applicants must be at least 16 years old, preferably with dance background in ballet, jazz, modern and/or contemporary. Improvisation skills are a plus.

"Declaration" runs March 25-26, 8 p.m., at Dance Forum Space, 36E West Ave., Quezon City. Call 4152185 or 0916-3566693. Visit airdance.com.ph.

Also published online:
http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/artsandbooks/artsandbooks/view/20110321-326685/World-peace-and-justice-through-dance

Theaterbatoring UP DECL's 'Screen: Macbeth'

thoughts on up decl's "screen: macbeth"
by walter ang
march 16, 2011
theaterbator.blogspot.com
http://theaterbator.blogspot.com/2011/03/screen-macbeth.html

as a rule, i don't usually review productions that i have written an "advancer" for, but what the hey! = )

many people obviously enjoyed "screen: macbeth," evidenced by the enthusiastic clapping and cheering after the show i caught. in fact, the show will be extended this weekend due to “insistent popular demand.”

a hodge-podge, eclectic, mix-match staging makes the show fun at certain times but is also the reason why it doesn’t quite come together.

director anton juan has the soldiers announcing their arrivals with a war cry-cum-greeting that provides gravitas to their military connection and to the earthy, gravelly, wild world he has created for this staging of macbeth.  all that grunting and shouting inervates the audience: we are not just politely sitting here, we are also spectators to some martial pageant.

teroy guzman (macbeth) and judy ick (lady macbeth) are wonderful. their enunciation is crystal clear, their emotions register the whole range of their characters' turmoils.  this is their show. we see them start off as bumbling virgin murderers then they transform into crazed guilt-wracked repentant (lady macbeth) and crazed smug villain (macbeth). they lock hands with the audience and take us with them on their inevitable tragic journeys.

jaime wilson (macduff) has a strong presence and ron capinding (banquo) does well as he does not fall into his usual trap of the-leo-martinez-school-of-acting. ricky abad (duncan, gatekeeper and doctor*) is hilarious as the gatekeeper.

earl ignacio (malcolm) delivers his lines haltingly, which makes it look like he is hard at work memorizing his lines.  his detached approach to his character doesn’t work. is that how someone whose father has been killed (and is burdened with not knowing if he will be able to succeed as the nation's king) behaves?

white sheets are draped along the perimeter of the room, creating a twin sense of claustrophobia and ephemerality.  things are as close as we see, but they also extend to and emanate from places farther than we think/know/feel--apt for the convoluted world of macbeth and his ghosts.

videos are shown througout the play, cross projected onto all four sides of the room. and that is where all the disconnection with the title lies.

big problem: we can hardly see the videos. (i don't know why the theater industry has not yet caught on with the use of double projectors just like in the events industry.) any reason of budgetary constraints/lack of equipment won't cut it, especially since the entire concept is based on "screens" and "projections," or so at least the title ("screen: macbeth.") leads us to expect.

but okay, let's assume that the low-intensity, washed-out projection style is deliberate, that these images are meant to be ghostlike wisps of fleeting, confused, guilty thoughts.  but that doesn’t solve questions on the seeming lack of consistency in the images, the way they are used and, ultimately, the point of it all.

medieval european images bookend the beginning and end but seem to have no bearing on the staging except as a visual marker that the play is set in europe (but why generic and not something scotland-specific?).  but wait, what about the mad max-inspired costume and weapons design? is this nowhereland, everyland, philippineland or europeland?

the three weird sisters use different dialects instead of english. why is it their act 1 lines have no english translation on the videos but their act 2 lines do?

the king’s muder is not shown onscreen (to heighten suspense?), but why are the murders of other characters shown? the  projections are used mostly for castle interiors (that look like something out of a video game), for forest exteriors, for graphic novel panels, for silhouettes of dancing figures, for distorted faces … as a tool for backdrop and mood enhancing  imagery than anything else. they rarely moved the story along, since dialogue and stage business more than amply takes care of that.

this is what the “screen” in “screen: macbeth” is all about? it hardly seems worth inserting itself in the title for.

the set design has white-rope-as-spider-webs that flank the corners of certain seating areas ... yes, they add to the sense of constriction created by the web-of-lies of the characters, but are more decorative than visually-integral to the staging. yes, lady macbeth has spider brooches on her high-heeled shoes, but other than that, nothing else in the staging seemed to build on the venomous spider/web-of-lies theme.**

juan employs some theatrical scenes that are exciting and thought-provoking. water (as a cleansing/diluting/forgiving element) pouring down on lady macbeth in her “out damned spot” monologue makes sense. shoes dropping out of the sky on to the stage earlier during her “unsex me here” monologue is exciting and a theatrical spectacle, but thought-provoking only in that it makes us ask, “what do shoes have to do with this monologue?” allusions to imelda marcos, perhaps. but again, not a theme that is developed further as the play progresses.

and then all of a sudden, we have malcolm and macduff riding metal-sculpted horse-heads as they discuss plans to conquer macbeth. the horse heads are pretty, yes. but necessary? not really. if anything, distracting.  these large, shiny tangible objects provide a very sharp contrast to the intangibility of the projections, but to what end?

if visually helping the audience along was the objective, perhaps it would have been better to show the soldiers camouflaging themselves with branches for the “burnham woods are moving” scene rather than providing visual spectacle via the horse-heads?

i don’t know where my head got to after watching this show. kekeke.

*conceptually, i think it's interesting to have the same actor play the character (duncan) that macbeth kills and the character (doctor) that tells macbeth that lady macbeth has died and that the woods are coming to get him.

**say perhaps, for example, having the three weird sisters be portrayed as the fates from greek mythology, weaving and cutting threads/webs of destinies. besides, there are more lines in "othello" that visually evoke spiderwebs than in "macbeth."

La Salle scholarship fundraising photo exhibit 2011

Photo exhibit aims to raise funds for La Salle scholarship program
By Walter Ang
March 14, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer


The idea of "access to education" inspired "The Green Light Project," a fundraising photo exhibit featuring 40 works by ten photographers.

Organized by De La Salle University, the exhibit aims to raise funds for the One La Salle Scholarship Fund. "The fund is the centerpiece project of our centennial celebrations to be held in 2011," said Br. Bernard Oca, university vice chancellor for external relations.

"The scholarship fund aims to raise one billion pesos to support approximately 18,000 students on full scholarship in the 17 La Salle schools in the country across all levels and courses."

Set to tour the country, the exhibit was launched at The Gallery, Greenbelt 5 Mall. The exhibit was stationed beside the Swatch store for one month.

Also launched was the DLSU Centennial chronograph by Swatch. The chronograph is part of a limited four-design commemorative wristwatch collection.

The chronograph comes with a book titled "11: Time for Hope," containing stories of 11 scholars "who are now reaping the benefits of their Lasallian education, and sharing the best of themselves in their respective fields."

Green heritage
All the exhibited photographers are alumni of La Salle schools here and abroad.

"The collection is very varied. The photographers were given the liberty to define their views on what it means to be a "green," what is means to be a Lasallian," Oca said.

Celebrity photographer Raymund Isaac and commercial photographer Francis Rivera defined green as "go" by featuring images taken during travels and by revisiting the uniqueness of La Salle architecture.

Conceptual portraitist Niccolo Cosme and sports photographer Vic Icasas depict modern interpretations of famous religious images and glory moments of the DLSU men's basketball team, respectively.

US-based photo hobbyist Sal Gabaldon Campos and wedding photographer John Mateos Ong capture nature and greenscapes.

Underwater photographer Perry Aragon and Photoshop master Jun Miranda interpret green through the dynamism of light and space.

Child photographer Louie Aguinaldo and celebrity photographer Ronnie Salvacion capture the oneness of a growing network of La Salle schools.

Accessible education
Available for purchase is a limited number of 11x17inch prints on Fujifilm YKL Crystal Archive paper, mounted on acid-free boarding with acid-free mylar paper covers.

For every P1000 donation to the fund, donors receive a limited-edition note card collection (available in five different sets) featuring the exhibited photos. The sets come in specially-designed metal packaging that resembles a lomo camera.

"The Green Light Project Note Card collection is the idea of alumna Raissa Posadas, a member of the university's centennial committee," said Oca.

All proceeds will go to the One La Salle Scholarship Fund. The fund is managed by De La Salle Philippines, the umbrella organization that handles the network of schools run by the De La Salle Brothers of the Philippines.

"The network shares capital and intellectual resources to make Lasallian education more accessible and equitable," he said.

"Our founder, Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, dedicated his life in educating the less fortunate. It's only proper that we remain faithful to his noble goal. At the core of these schools is the mission to provide an empowering Christian education. We seek to teach minds, touch hearts, and transform lives, and we want our Lasallian education to be accessible to more of our deserving but poor students. "

DLSU was the first La Salle school in the country, founded in Paco, Manila in 1911. It eventually moved to its current location in Malate, Manila. The network, with Br. Edmundo Fernandez as president, now includes 11 schools in Luzon, three in Visayas and three in Mindanao.

The Green Light Project will tour La Salle schools across the country, starting with The Museum at De La Salle University from January to March 2011.

Order items at centennial.dlsu.edu.ph or call 524-4611 loc. 290. Orders from abroad accepted. To donate to the One La Salle Scholarship Fund, call LASALLE (5272553) or email marivic.mercado@delasalle.ph.

Also published online:
http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/artsandbooks/artsandbooks/view/20110314-325254/Photo-exhibit-aims-to-raise-funds--for-La-Salle-scholarship-program

CCP goes digital with its collection

CCP goes digital with its collection
By Walter Ang
March 8, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer

EMC President for Southeast Asia,
Australia and New Zealand David Webster
and CCP President Raul Sunico.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has received a donation of equipment and software that will be used to convert its entire audio-visual collection on Philippine arts and culture into digital files.

The technology, worth P9 million, will be used in a digitization project that will involve storing, protecting, managing and providing access to the CCP library’s vast collection of national, cultural and historical materials.

The collection dates back to 1970 and consists of approximately 40,000 hours of audio, 30,000 hours of film, 6,500 photos, 28,000 slides and 56,000 manuscripts.

The donor, EMC Corp., is a developer and provider of information infrastructure technology with clients in the banking, telecommunications and transportation industries, among others.

“Poetry, film, music, visual arts and expressions of humanity are all part of a country’s national, cultural and historical heritage and, yet, many of these critical documents and cultural artifacts are at risk of disappearing without the right information infrastructure systems,” said David Webster, EMC president for Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. “EMC recognizes and supports the protection of such important heritage of the Philippines for the enjoyment and appreciation of future generations of Filipinos,” he said.

*****

Here are additional notes that I made that were edited out of the published article for length: 

The donation includes hardware equipment, the Celerra NS-120 Storage System, which has 18 terabytes of usable disk storage capacity that can eventually be expanded to 32 terabytes.  The system is configured to allow storage expansion for future growth and additional storage requirements including additional IT applications such as CCP's email, finance, human resource and administration operations.

The system will run on the company’s proprietary ApplicationXtender Content Management Software.  The software will allow users to browse and search the digitized files using desktop computers and even web browsers when the information will be made available on the Internet.

Hands-on training will be provided for the CCP’s designated IT and library digitization staff on the proper use and maintenance of the storage system.

“EMC's collaboration with CCP is a natural fit with our core business and expertise around storing, protecting and managing critical digital information assets," said Ronnie Latinazo, EMC Philippines country manager.  “It has been a rewarding challenge to help CCP create a virtual and interactive environment to make information on Philippines' rich cultural past available and accessible to everyone. This is EMC's way of giving back to the community after having operated in the Philippines for the past ten years.”

The CCP was established in 1969 through Executive Order No. 30 to preserve Filipino arts and culture and to promote the development and appreciation of national arts and culture. The documentation of performances and other art forms were accumulated to provide entertainment and educational materials to the public.

"We commend EMC's generosity,” said Raul Sunico, CCP president. “The CCP is honored to be a beneficiary of this digital preservation initiative. It shows EMC's spirit and vision of making technology a vital tool in building a better Philippines and outstanding Filipinos. This partnership will benefit not only this generation but the youth of the future as well.”

Open Tuesdays through Fridays, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 PM.  For inquiries, call tel. no. 832-1125 local 1502 and 1503 or email at library@culturalcenter.gov.ph.