Mio Infante's design process for the set of Peta's 'Rak of Aegis'

'Luha,' 'Basang Basa sa Ulan'-yes, it's a watery world for Peta's 'Rak of Aegis'
By Walter Ang
Dec. 28, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Mio Infante's set design perspectives
for "Rak of Aegis"
The music of the popular Filipino band "Aegis" will be featured in Philippine Educational Theater Association's (Peta) staging of its original jukebox musical "Rak of Aegis."

The rock-comedy musical will have songs such as "Halik," "Sinta," "Luha" and "Basang Basa sa Ulan," rearranged by musical director Myke Salomon.

The cast is led by Isay Alvarez-Seña, Robert Seña, Aicelle Santos ("Katy!"), and Poppert Bernadas ("Lorenzo"). Peta artistic director Maribel Legarda will direct.

Inspired by Tropical Storm "Ondoy" and the flooding that came with it, Liza Magtoto wrote a script set in the flooded barangay of Villa Venizia where its residents face compromising situations: natural disasters and broken hearts.

Bright idea
Legarda approached set designer Mio Infante to create the watery world for this production. His semi-arena set is envisioned to have "actual knee-high-deep water."

Infante's recent design credits (set and costumes) include Triumphant Peoples Evangelistic Theater Society's (Trumpets)' "The Bluebird of Happiness" and 9 Works Theatrical's "Grease" (where he also served as associate artistic director), though he's been designing for theater, dance, television and live concerts since the '90s.

"I was a young actor in Repertory Philippines   once upon a time, while juggling studies at the University of the Philippines' College of Architecture," he says. "One day, somebody had a bright idea of me assisting the then resident set designer at Rep by drawing design studies.

"After a couple of months, the designer had a big row with Tita Bibot [Amador] (then founding artistic director) and walked out during tech week. That was my baptism of fire.

"Good thing everyone at Rep was very encouraging and my professors at the college were more than willing to help give me tips. Before I knew it, I was designing all of eight plays and two small musicals in Rep's annual season."

After college, Infante also designed for Tanghalang Pilipino and Trumpets. He finished his Master of Arts in Scenography/Theatre Design at the Wimbledon School of Art in London in 1997.

In his maiden production for Peta, Infante found the technical challenges that the script called for "interesting."

"I have previously designed for black-box (theaters that are essentially "empty" spaces with no permanent seating nor stages) staging with the water element, but this is the first time I've had to incorporate the floodway as an ever-present scenic element, that the actors negotiate on throughout the play.

"We looked into how Filipinos adapted to unceasing flood conditions in their communities and the remarkable resilience of the Pinoy spirit."

Infante has designed several original productions for Trumpets, though his discography lists mainly foreign material that have been staged locally.

"I find that there is not much of a difference between designing a licensed Broadway material and  doing original productions," he says.

"First, I ask to know why the show is being staged, and for whom, and where it will be staged. The collaboration among the creative team (and playwrights, if original) takes on a very special route for each and every production.

"On arriving at a mise-en-scene for the show, it takes a lot of discussion with the creative team, a great deal of scenographic research while aligning expectations and managing realistic production budgets."

"Rak of Aegis" will showcase the Aegis band's chart-toppers such as "Luha," "Halik," "Sundot," "Christmas Bonus" and "Basang Basa sa Ulan," performed by--aside from the Seña couple, Santos and Bernadas--a cast that includes Joan Bugcat, Ro Alfonso, Jet Barrun, Kakai Bautista, Poppert Bernadas, Gimbey dela Cruz, Neomi Gonzales, Pepe Herrera, Carlon Matobato, Julienne Mendoza, John Moran, Jerald Napoles, Gie Onida, Phillip Palmos, Myke Salomon, Paeng Sudayan and Gold Villar.

"Rak of Aegis," says the Peta press statement announcing the show, "is a musical filled with visual spectacle showcasing the Pinoy's natural love for music and innate resilience in the face of calamity.

The musical is created by the same women behind Peta's hit comedy musical  "Care Divas," Peta artistic director Maribel Legarda and Palanca Award-winning writer Liza Magtoto, with musical arrangement and musical direction by actor-musician Myke Salomon.

"Rak of Aegis" has choreography by Gio Gahol, costume design by Carlo Pagunaling and lighting design by Jon Jon Villareal.

It runs Jan. 31, 2013-March 9, 2014 at Peta-Phinma Theater, Peta Theater Center, 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City (behind Quezon City Sports Club). Contact 7256244, 0917-5765400 or petatheater@gmail.com.

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REVIEW: 'Maxie The Musicale' – long and loud, but heartwarming

'Maxie The Musicale' – long and loud, but heartwarming
By Walter Ang
Dec. 7, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

In Bit by Bit Company's "Maxie The Musicale," the irrepressibly ebullient Jayvhot Galang as Maxie and the impossibly handsome Jojo Riguerra as Victor, the policeman that Maxie has a crush on, cut striking, beautiful figures on stage.

Based on the 2005 film "Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros," written by Michiko Yamamoto and directed by Auraeus Solito, the adaptation by Nicolas Pichay follows protagonist Maximo Oliveros, a bubbly tween who knows what he wants and finds ways to get it.

Unfortunately, the musical he inhabits doesn't really quite know what it wants to be just yet. Like a hot mess of a tranny with too many feathers and ribbons, the self-indulgent staging is overly long and overly loud.

Too bad, because the musical is a loving, heartwarming coming-of-age tale that struggles to break out of a closet whose door is blocked by bells, whistles, smoke, mirrors and the proverbial kitchen sink.

Forever and ever
The production doesn't know if it wants to be a musical, a statement on low-income communities, a Sto. Niño procession, a gay beauty pageant, a funeral procession, or a repository for numbers seemingly inspired by foreign musicals like the pick-pocketing song from "Oliver!," the stripping security guards (showering policemen in this case) from "The Full Monty," the riot police (complete with the transparent shields) from "Billy Elliot," and the barricade scene from "Les Miserables."

To be fair, songs that don't really push the story along are par for the course in musicals (after all, the most famous song out of "Hello, Dolly" is a bunch of waiters welcoming their favorite patron to a club). Nonetheless, while the scenes listed above are clearly intended to add color and fun to the proceedings, they suffer from being overly directed (let's bring down the coffin from the second floor!) and overly featured (let's devote a whole 15 minutes for the pageant!).

Because of, or in spite of, having three composers (William Elvin Manzano, Janine Santos and JJ Pimpinio), and even with a variety of genres (ballad, rap, R&B, etc.) employed, the songs feel tiresome because there is no particularly striking melody. They all start to sound alike after a while, and each one seems to go on forever and ever.

Also, the faulty sound system (inexcusable on the second week of a production's run; of a musical, no less) blasts the live band's music, drowning out all of librettist Pichay's lyrics whenever the ensemble sings together.

Community as character
The musical opens promisingly enough, with Maxie's neighbors erupting into a boisterous introduction to the craziness of their milieu. The community's characters shine bright in Gino Gonzales's silverwashed, textured set design, illuminated subtly by lighting designer John Batalla.

This is a great way to tell us that Maxie's sense of self is intertwined with where he lives and who has been raising him. We're the Sampaloc community, we're loud and proud, get used to it.

But, boy, does director Dexter Santos want to make sure we really and truly get it. On top of the flawed sound system, he has all his actors sing and talk at the top of their lungs for every single song and every single scene.

When Greg de Leon sings as the antagonist police chief, his solid baritone bellows above everyone else's voices. Is everyone in the cast competing for the Philippines' Next Top Loudest Singer (or maybe they can't hear themselves over the sound system)?

Running at three hours, the production even has a recap of Acts 1 and 2. Clearly, it knows how long it's taking and is afraid it's lost the audience's attention along the way. Thankfully, despite the bloated length, the main plot is strong enough to withstand the extraneous devices.

Deft vocals
The sound system lets up during duets and solos, allowing audiences to hear Galang's deft vocal maneuverings. While he lacks technique for some songs requiring a falsetto, his trailing curlicues and soulful delivery are great, while his torch songs and finale anthem are highlights.

Riguerra's thoughtful characterization and Santos' staging sidesteps the movie's creepy, pedophilic camera gaze. The musical articulates Maxie's blossoming adoration of Victor in a clever nod to its provenance: A fun, fantasy explosion where he sings "kay ganda ng kulay ng pelikula," framing Victor as a movie hero.

How does a boy from a family of petty thieves and a policeman who's bent on clearing the streets forge a connection? Friends and family knock sense into Maxie as he turns difficult but crucial corners.

Aaron Ching stands out in Maxie's barkada-as-Greek-chorus. Maxie is also given a frenemy-turned-friend, though he's completely superfluous.

The strong performances and singing are the heart of the show. Roeder Camañag (Nazer Salcedo, alternate) as the father provides gravitas. As the brothers, Jay Gonzaga is funny and OJ Mariano (Al Gatmaitan, alternate) is tender.

It is in the intimate, vulnerable moments with his family that Maxie knows of true security and unconditional love. The four actors in this family express genuine affection for each other and anchor the show, allowing audiences to cheer for underpuppy Maxie through his trials as a brave tween, and his blossoming into a fabulous teenager.

"Maxie The Musicale" has remaining performances Saturday and Sunday at Peta-Phinma Theater, Peta Theater Center (behind Quezon City Sports Club), Quezon City. Call 0917-8427346 or 891-9999 Ticketworld)) or 470-2222 (SM Tickets).

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Fil-Am Eva Noblezada is new ‘Miss Saigon’ on West End

Fil-Am Eva Noblezada is new ‘Miss Saigon’ on West End
By Walter Ang
Nov. 23, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Eva Noblezada.
Photo by Annette Calud.
Seventeen-year-old Filipino-American Eva Noblezada has been cast to portray the titular character Kim for the upcoming West End revival of “Miss Saigon,” reports The Daily Mail.

Noblezada is slated to do four performances a week while remaining shows will be covered by two understudies once the show opens at the Prince Edward Theatre in May 2014.

Noblezada hails from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her father was born in Guam to Filipino parents.

Earlier this year, Noblezada won Best Actress at the Blumenthal Performing Arts High School Musical Theater Awards for her portrayal of Ariel in Northwest School of the Arts’ production of “Footloose.”

She was spotted by Broadway casting director Tara Rubin when she joined the National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York.

Noblezada was given a private audition with “Miss Saigon” director Laurence Connor in New York. She auditioned for producer Cameron Mackintosh a few weeks later.

The paternal cousin of Noblezada’s father, Annette Calud, performed on Broadway as part of the original ensemble cast of “Miss Saigon” in 1991, and took over from Lea Salonga in the lead role of Kim in 1992. Calud also played Celina on “Sesame Street” from 1992 until 1996.

“Eva came home already knowing she was cast,” says Calud. “But she had to wait for the official casting announcement before she could share the news with family and friends.”

“I was fortunate to get to work through the songs with her before she auditioned, though she didn’t need much help at all. Hearing her sing … I knew for certain she would land the part.”

Born to do it
In her blog, Calud foresaw Noblezada’s future in a post she wrote years ago: “Even at age 3 Eva had pipes.  She would stand on a piano bench and sing Disney princess songs with that sweet and perfectly pure innocent voice. Now at age 14, she can command the stage with the presence of any Broadway diva.

"With a God-given talent, her amazingly versatile voice can effortlessly croon everything from Lady Gaga to Barbra Streisand."

With a cavernous Broadway belt and the vocal finesse of Celine Dion, my niece will undoubtedly see her name in lights on the Great White Way.”

“Eva has never needed to be inspired about musical theater.  She was born to do it,” says Calub, who took Noblezada as a child to watch her first Broadway shows. “I took her to see ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera.’”

“I am beyond thrilled and excited for Eva.  I had no doubt because I know what it takes to conquer this role, and she has the vocal power and control to sing the score.  She has the acting depth to break your heart.  She was born to play Kim.”

“Miss Saigon” celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. It features music by Claude-Michel Schönberg with lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Alain Boublil, adapted from the original French lyrics by Boublil.

Based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly,” the musical is set in 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War. Kim is a bar girl who falls in love with and is abandoned by an American GI.

The 2014 production set a new record for the largest single day of sales on West End and Broadway history, with £4,402,371 recorded on the first day the tickets went on sale in September this year.

Mackintosh told The Daily Mail that Noblezada reminded him of Lea Salonga, who was cast as Kim in the original West End staging in 1989.

“Eva’s going to be our new Lea,” Macintosh said.

“Miss Saigon” was staged in Manila in 2000-2001 with Salonga reprising her role.

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Frencheska Farr: Hopelessly devoted to her…tattoos

Frencheska Farr: Hopelessly devoted to her… tattoos
By Walter Ang
Nov. 23, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Francheska Farr and Gian Magdangal
Singer-actress Frencheska Farr has two tattoos. Instead of visual designs, she has two statements branded on her body.

She got her first tattoo at her nape, “Forever Young,” three years ago on her birthday.

“I really wanted a statement that’s simple yet meaningful to me,” she says. “I searched online for fonts, then I had my tattoo artist copy it.

“I just wanted to feel what it would be like to get a tattoo. I was excited. It was painful but I enjoyed the thrill of it. It made me happy that I got to express myself and I got to do what I wanted to do.”

The second one, “Keep the Faith,” on her inner right wrist, was done this year. “Both tattoos serve as reminders for me as to what and who I am,” she says.

She doesn’t plan on getting a new one anytime soon but is not closed off to the idea.

“Only until I achieve something great. I don’t know when or what great is but I’ll know when I’m already there,” she notes.

Left and inset, her back and wrist tattoos. “It made me happy that I got to express myself and I got to do what I wanted to do,” she says.

Stage debut
Farr's tattoos
She’s currently playing a character that may not be immediately accepting of tattoos. Farr is having her professional stage debut playing “nice” girl Sandy Dumbrowski in 9 Works Theatricals’ ongoing staging of “Grease,” the iconic musical about the love lives of teenagers in 1950s middle America.

Directed by 9WT artistic director Robbie Guevarra, with book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, the staging includes songs from the 1978 movie adaptation (such as “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One that I Want”) starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John as the lead couple.

Sandy Dumbrowski eventually sheds her inhibitions and joins the rest of her friends’ groove. If Farr had her way, she’d offer this life advice to Sandy: “Get a tattoo—not just to fit in but also to get to experience everything life has to offer.”

Farr was tipped off to the auditions by Gian Magdangal, whom she’s worked with in the defunct Sunday afternoon variety TV show “Party Pilipinas.”

“I’ve forgotten everything that happened at the audition because I was so nervous,” she says, laughing. “But I’m happy that I went through it.”

She’s learned to adjust her acting style, since she’s more used to acting for TV and film. “In theater, I have to make bigger movements so I can show the audience the emotion I’m feeling. On TV, you can make little movements and the director can just shoot a close-up. I also had to work on my singing and dancing because in theater, you can’t make mistakes, there are no second takes.”

Farr had participated in productions during high school. “I joined the high school choir, and I represented our school in inter-school competitions. I was shy at first but I eventually became more confident of myself,” she recalls.

In 2009, she joined and won GMA’s television singing competition “Are You the Next Big Star?” Regular appearances in several TV shows followed.

She was then asked to audition for the movie musical “Emir.” She landed the lead role of a nanny in a royal household of a fictional emirate in the deserts of the Middle East.

“Surprisingly I got the role,” she says, recalling that acting wasn’t one of the things she thought she’d ever enjoy doing. “But when I did it, I discovered that I could act and I fell in love with it.”

The character that Sandy falls in love with, Danny Zuko, the leader of the student clique/gang T-Birds, is played by Magdangal. He was recently seen in Spotlight Artists’ restaging of Musical Theater Philippines’ “Katy!” and 9WT’s “The Wedding Singer” and “Rent.”

Another debuting actor, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, plays Kenickie, second-in-command of the T-Birds, while Iya Villania alternates with Jennifer Blair-Bianco as Betty Rizzo, the leader of the girl’s clique, the Pink Ladies.

Surprise guests fill in the role of Teen Angel, an apparition that will serenade one of the characters. Tom Rodriguez of “My Husband’s Lover” fame was the Teen Angel on opening night.

Musical direction is by Sweet Plantado-Tiongson, choreography by Arnold Trinidad and Francis Matheu, set and costume design by Mio Infante, lighting design by John Batalla, sound design by Chuck Ledesma, and hair and makeup design by Myrene Santos.

“Grease” runs until Dec. 1 at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza Bldg., Makati City. Contact 5867105, 0917-5545560, e-mail info@9workstheatrical.com; or 8919999, www.ticketworld.com.ph

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Sipat Lawin Ensemble bats for alternative theater with ‘Karnabal’

Sipat Lawin Ensemble bats for alternative theater with ‘Karnabal’
By Walter Ang
Nov. 16, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Sipat Lawin Ensemble is hosting “Karnabal: A Def. Defying Festival,” a theater festival featuring groups and solo artists, in alternative performance spaces within Intramuros from Nov. 20 to 24.

“The ‘Def.’ stands for ‘definition,’” says SLE’s artistic director JK Anicoche. “It best explains the mix of programmed performances as transgressing norms and going beyond definitions of art and what it should be.”

Unlike noncurated fringe theater festivals abroad like Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Adelaide Fringe Festival where artists simply apply to join and can perform a wide variety of works, “Karnabal” is a curated festival. Anicoche did the curating along with SLE member Sarah Salazar.

“The festival allows artists to freely test new works and/or develop existing ones, as well as share and generate new audiences for the Philippine performance scene,” he adds.

Main shows
The Main Performance Platform features the original devised works of independent companies and solo artists.

SLE leads this category with “Reenactments.” “It’s a performance of new works devised from national events that have been forgotten by the public, made visible again via performance,” says Anicoche. “It’s devoid of the formal literary structure of a story or plot. It reenacts recent pasts and forgotten presents that are easily erased from our national memory, as one news and Internet fad after another buries last week’s headline.”

Kolab Co., meanwhile, stages “@Home,” a devised work that explores the different definitions of what “home” is, including the notion of “e-parenting,” where Filipino migrant workers connect with their children via the Internet.

Shaharazade Theater Company is staging “Story #15,” about four strangers who hook themselves up to a machine that transforms dreams into reality.

There’s also Destiyero Theater Commune, which is staging “Ang Mga Bata, Ang Mga Bata,” based on a play written by Erick Dasig Aguilar about three children gravely affected by a landslide.

Fire hula-hoop dancer and slam poet Daniel Darwin will direct “Green Glass Door,” a piece with two men that explores “faith, loyalty, free will, submission and liberation.”

Dance, workshops
Ea Torrado will perform “Nga-nga,” a solo dance piece exploring the “vacuum world of the humdrum and the ways we try to make life a little more bearable for ourselves.”

Transitopia Contemporary Dance Commune is screening “Rehearsal for Disaster.”

Works in progress are featured, too, in the Tsubibo Open Platform. Performances under this category will offer Blank Tickets. Audience members will pay what they feel the experience is worth.

Featured performances include two plays (Glenn Mas’ “Games People Play,” directed by Ed Lacson; and David Finnigan and Isabelle Martinez’s “Appropriate Kissing For All Ocassions”); and a film, Whammy Alcazaren’s “Colossal,” among others.

Workshops, talks, forums and panel discussions include topics on freelancing as a performer, how men are depicted in performance, the dynamics of staging free performances, and what subject matters are considered offensive for audiences.

“Karnabal” runs Nov. 20-24 in different venues within Intramuros, Manila. Contact 0917-5008753.

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Guelan Luarca tames tricky translations for Eurydice

Guelan Luarca tames tricky translations for Eurydice
By Walter Ang
Nov. 11, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Guelan Luarca
"I was delighted. Shocked. Couldn't move. I was shaking," says Miguel Antonio Alfredo "Guelan" Luarca, recalling his winning first place in this year's Palanca Memorial Award for Literature's Dulang May Isang Yugto category.

His "Mga Kuneho," about five men hired by a mysterious employer to transfer a loaded body bag from one room to another, had its world premiere at last year's Virgin Labfest and was chosen to be in this year's "Revisited" set.

Currently wrapping up his Literature in English course at Ateneo de Manila University, the first play Luarca ever wrote and directed, "Lingon," was for Ateneo High School's Palig, an annual competition hosted by the Filipino department.

Since then, he's worked on a few more plays and translated even more. And he's only 22 years old.

He's written, acted and directed for both the high school's Teatro Baguntao and the university's Tanghalang Ateneo. His recent credits for TA is devise-work for "Sintang Dalisay," an adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."

Currently, Luarca is handling translation duties for TA's staging of Sarah Ruhl's "Eurydice."

Unlike the Greek myth on which it's based, Ruhl's adaptation adds a father for Eurydice when she ends up in the underworld. When her lover Orpheus comes to claim her, Eurydice's torn between her love for these two men.

Luarca has been working with director Loy Arcenas. "He is super hands-on, even with the translation process. We are not adapting Ruhl's text but [Arcenas] didn't want to locate it in America, either. So I went for Filipino that's quite devoid of historical connotations."

"[Arcenas] also has a unique reading of Orpheus, less the romantic hero and more of a jock who learns to sacrifice life for love; so my translation accommodates that specific reading."

In the blood
Theater, for Luarca, is partly in the blood. His mother dabbled in theater under Fr. James Reuter. His father Ward acted for Dulaang Sibol and Teatro Pilipino; whose recent credits include a role in the movie "Zombadings 1: Patayin sa shokot si Remington."

"I grew up watching my dad rehearsing scenes alone at home. The first time I watched a play was when he was in Tanghalang Pilipino's 'Lysistrata.' That play was directed by Ricky Abad [Tangahalang Ateneo's artistic director]. The first production I acted in for TA, 'Walang Sugat,' was also directed by Abad. Father and son's theater experience came full circle."

It was watching Tanghalang Pilipino's staging of "Makbet" using National Artist for Literature and Theater Rolando Tinio's translation that triggered Luarca's passion for translation. "I was amazed that you could do that with Filipino."

He started studying English-Filipino dictionaries, collecting stock vocabulary. In high school, he wanted to direct Chekhov's "The Boor" but couldn't find a copy of Tinio's translation. So he translated it himself.

Tricky translations
Most of Luarca's translations thus far have been of classic playwrights (Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors"/"Komedya ng Kalituhan" and "Troilus and Cressida"/"Trobol sa Troya").

Ruhl's work, on the other hand, is undoubtedly contemporary, premiering only just a decade ago.

"Translating modern Western plays is always harder than translating classics like the Greeks or Shakespeare. It's a balancing act between respecting the historical context of the original and allowing the specific needs of the target language to sort of bend the material for its own uses.

"Something as American as Ruhl's 'Eurydice' is a lot trickier. Her dramaturgy is so, so very poetic. You can't quite reword her; she seems to be very sure about how she chooses her words, how long or short a sentence is, how arbitrary some of her images are.

"It was clear that we were doing a translated version. So I didn't want to take too many liberties with the language. But, of course, there will always be unintended 'Filipino-ness,' something very specific to the language and culture, that I think adds to Ruhl rather than distorts her. At least that's my intention."

Likes it both ways
When it comes to translation work, Luarca idolizes Tinio. "He'd contribute to Filipino and also to the original work. For example, he translated Hamlet's 'a little more than kin, and less than kind' to 'higit mang kamag-anak, hindi naman kamag-isip.' His 'kamag-isip' is genius!"

Otherwise, Luarca looks to his father for guidance. "[When I won the Palanca], more than anything, I was really excited because I knew it'd make my parents happy. Especially my dad, who's really one of my most trusted mentors in writing. I bounce my ideas off him. I admire his poetry."

Luarca admits he feels "friendless and alone" when writing original plays. On the other hand, translation is "always fun" and makes him feel that he's given "a backstage pass to the workings of minds greater than my own."

Nontheless, "Original plays allow me to torture and indulge myself. Translating teaches me selflessness and discipline. I like them both."

Set and costume design by Arcenas, lighting design by Lex Marcos, sound design by Teresa Barrozo.

"Eurydice" runs Nov. 14-30 at Fine Arts Black Box Studio, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. Contact 09177931175 or 09175760805.

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The Supremo on the march: productions focus on Bonifacio in 2013

The Supremo on the march
By Walter Ang
Nov. 2, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Gantimpala Theater’s “Katipunan: Mga Anak ng Bayan”
Andres Bonifacio is popularly called “The Father of the Philippine Revolution.” He was a founding member and, later, Supremo (“supreme leader”) of the Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Highest and Most Respected Society of the Country’s Children), a secret revolutionary society that fought for independence from Spanish colonial rule.

His colorful life has inspired several works in the performing arts—fitting, in a way, because Bonifacio was a part-time actor who performed in moro-moro productions. He joined Samahang Dramatista ng Tundo and founded El Teatro Porvenir or Teatro Circo de Porvenir (depending on different sources).

Domingo Landicho's book, "Sa Bagwis ng Sigwa: Mga dula sa buhay at panahon ni Andres Bonifacio," is an anthology of his plays about Bonifacio ("Sa Bagwis ng Sigwa," "Unang Alay," and "Dapithapon.").

Jovi Miroy's "Anak ng Bayan" explores Bonifacio's "existential struggles;" Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio's "Dalawang Bayani" compares the lives of Bonifacio and Jose Rizal; Vincent Tañada's "Bonifacio: Isang Sarswela" depicts Bonifacio as a martyr saint.

Plays dealing with the events leading up to his death include Adrian Cristobal's "The Trial of Andres Bonifacio" (and its Tagalog translation "Ang Paglilitis" by Alexander Cortez) and Rene Villanueva's "Huling Gabi sa Maragondon."

There is a musical: "Andres Bonifacio: Ang Dakilang Anakpawis" (music by Jerry Dadap, libretto by Dionisio Salazar and Rogelio Mangahas).

In dance, there is Philippine Ballet Theatre's "Andres KKK: Ang Buhay at Pag-Ibig ni Andres Bonifacio" (choreography by Gener Caringal, libretto by Lillia Quindoza-Santiago, music by Jessie Lucas); and, staged earlier this year, Ballet Philippines' "Rock Supremo" (choreography by Paul Morales, Alden Lugnasin and Dwight Rodrigazo; libretto by Nick Pichay).

In film there is "Andres Bonifacio: Ang Supremo" (1964) directed by Teodorico Santos; Raymond Red's (direction and screenplay) "Bayani" (1992); Mario O'Hara's (direction and screenplay) "Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio" (2010); and "Ang Supremo" (2012) screenplay by Jimmy Flores and directed by Richard Somes.

To commemorate Bonifacio’s birth sesquicentennial (Nov. 30), several theater groups are staging productions about him. Three will be staged in November this year and one in 2014.

Gantimpala Theater
Film and television director Joel Lamangan co-directs Gantimpala Theater’s musical version of Bonifacio Ilagan’s 1978 Cultural Center of the Philippines Playwriting Contest-winning (first place) “Katipunan: Mga Anak ng Bayan.”

“We want to make it relevant [for current audiences] in terms of music and movement. This is all sung through and fast. We’ll also show the role of women in the struggle, the internal conflicts that weakened the Katipunan,” says Lamangan.

The production has music by RJ Jimenez and lyrics by Ilagan and Jeffrey Camañag. It stars Sandino Martin as Bonifacio, with Anna Fegi and Rita de Guzman alternating as Bonifacio’s wife Gregoria “Oryang” de Jesus.

Lamangan is Gantimpala’s new artistic director (following the death of founding artistic director Tony Espejo). Lamangan was in the cast of “Katipunan,” Gantimpala’s inaugural production in 1978.

Jun Pablo co-directs. Costume design by Pablo, set design by Sonny Aniceto and lighting design by Ninya Bedruz.

“Katipunan: Mga Anak ng Bayan” runs in Manila on Nov. 20 to 22 at Armed Forces of the Philippines Theater, Quezon City; Nov. 29 at Bonifacio High Street Open Field; and Nov. 30 at Taguig University. It tours Cavite City on Dec. 7 at Montano Hall.

Contact 9985622/8720261 for Manila shows and 09162759938 for Cavite shows.

Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas
Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas stages Tim Dacanay’s 2006 Palanca Award-winning play (second place, Dulang Ganap ang Haba category), “Teatro Porvenir: Ang Katangi-tanging Kasaysayan ni Andres Bonifacio, Macario Sakay at Aurelio Tolentino sa Entablado.”

“It is a re-imagining of the history of the Katipunan through an amalgamation of myth and literature, history and religion,” says DUP artistic director Alex Cortez, who is directing the production. “The play highlights Bonifacio as artist.”

Romnick Sarmenta and Russell Legaspi alternate as Bonifacio while Jean Judith Javier, Karen Guerlan and Emerald Bañares alternate as De Jesus.

Choreography by Angel Baguilat, Filipino martial arts choreography by arnis expert Bot Jocano, and komedya batalla movement by Jess Macatuggal and Grace Jaramillo. Costume design by Nimrod Sta. Ana, set design by Faust Peneyra, and sound design by Jethro Joaquin.

“Teatro Porvenir” runs Nov. 20 to Dec. 8 at Wilfrido Guerrero Theater, 2nd floor, Palma Hall, University of the Philippines, Quezon City.

Contact 9261349, 9818500 local 2449, and 4337840.

Tanghalang Pilipino
Tanghalang Pilipino stages a modern Filipino opera in Filipino, “San Andres B,” with music by Chino Toledo and libretto by National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario.

To be directed by Floy Quintos, the production will feature tenor Dondi Ong as Bonifacio and soprano Margarita Rocco as De Jesus. Ong alternated in the role of Ubaldo Piangi in last year’s Manila run of a touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.”

“‘San Andres B’ is by no means a historical account of Bonifacio’s life. Rather, it is Almario’s imagistic and evocative interpretation of Bonifacio’s internal struggles. Toledo’s jagged and riveting score captures this internal struggle,” says Quintos.

Sound design by Aji Manalo, choreography by Kris Belle Paclibar-Mamangun, costume design by James Reyes, set design by Eric Cruz and lighting design by Jay Aranda.

“San Andres B” runs Nov. 29 to Dec. 8 at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Contact 0917-7500107 or 0908-8941384.

University of the Philippines-Los Baños
In 2014, Joey Ting will direct Layeta Bucoy’s “Bonifacio Freak Show,” a black comedy about a group who wants to join the Katipunan but have a problem: the blood pact initiation is done at night—when this group turns into different halimaw such as manananggal, tiyanak, duwende and tikbalang.

The production will be staged by UPLB’s Office of the Initiatives for Culture and Arts for the Southern Tagalog Arts Festival 2014 and 2014’s National Arts Month in February. Music by Angel Dayao, set and costume design by Louie Navarro, and video design by Rudyard Pesimo.

"Bonifacio Freak Show" runs Feb. 19 to 21 at Dioscoro Umali Auditorium, UP Los Baños, Laguna. Contact 0917-4578874.

Thanks to Dennis Marasigan, Rody Vera, Fred Hawson, Alvin Dacanay, Nick Pichay, Myra Beltran, Angel Lawenko-Baguilat, Cora Llamas, and Jovi Miroy for the information.

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Mailes Kanapi, living with and beyond bipolar disorder

Mailes Kanapi, living with and beyond bipolar disorder
By Walter Ang
Oct-Nov 2013 issue
Look Magazine

Actress Mailes Kanapi had been an insomniac since she was a child. "I had lots of energy. I did everything. I used to do writing projects and I would write really fast. I was always the life of the party. I had extreme courage. I felt like Superwoman. I only hated that I couldn't sleep."

But it wasn't super powers that gave her such an energetic life. In 2006, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. "It's a psychiatric diagnosis for a mood disorder," says Dr. Ronald Elepaño, chief consultation-liaison psychiatry fellow of The Medical City hospital's Department of Psychiatry. "People with bipolar disorder experience prolonged episodes of mania that alternate with prolonged episodes of depression. Mania and depression are the two 'poles' of 'bipolar.'"

As it turned out, Kanapi had been in a manic state for quite a long time. "I felt everything intensely. Sometimes it would be unbearable." The diagnosis has helped her find appropriate treatment that's put her in "a good place right now" but getting there has been fraught with complexity and difficulty.

Fears disappear
Kanapi got into acting shortly after enrolling in the theater program at University of the Philippines. She started landing roles in different productions with Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, the defunct Dulaang Talyer, and Tanghalang Pilipino. She hasn't stopped since.

She won the 2010 Philstage Gawad Buhay! for Outstanding Female Lead Performance in a Play for her work as Josefina (Masha) in TP's "Tatlong Mariya," a Tagalog adaptation of Chekhov's "Three Sisters." She followed this up with playing Tamora in DUP's Tagalog adaptation of Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" and, last year, as Chabeng in Mario O'Hara's "Stageshow" for TP, for which she won the 2012 PGB for Outstanding Female Featured Performance.

She's recently been doing more film work. She's part of "Juana Change The Movie," a satirical film based on the Youtube character played by Mae Paner (Kanapi's castmate in "Stageshow"), which will be out in theater this May.

"When I act, all my fears disappear." While acting is where she feels most comfortable, it's neither a crutch for her disorder nor is it immune to her condition's effects.

The road to a final, definitive diagnosis of bipolar disorder is usually protracted. "It's not an easy condition to identify. Usually, though not always, there is an initial diagnosis of depression before an eventual diagnosis of bipolar disorder," says Elepaño.

In Kanapi's case, given her prolonged manic episodes, she was first misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the early 90s. She had just given birth to her son and fears of being unable to take care of him led her to seek medical attention.

She didn't feel any improvements but partly due to a string of unproductive encounters with other doctors who she felt weren't right for her, concerns about finding an answer to her situation fell to the wayside.

Not for a lack of trying to solve the problem, by the early 2000s, her mood swings were starting to take a toll. She had become bulimic and she'd started self-mutilating, cutting into her arms and legs in a struggle to communicate her plea for help to those around her.

But then, there was a cloud of denial and dismissiveness from the people in her life. Her family and friends had become used to her "antics" (that had been manifest since her childhood), so her self-inflicted wounds was considered par for the course. "I was considered a black sheep in my family," says this eldest sister of seven siblings. "I was called KSP. I was told I had a 'star complex.'"

There was also self-justification/self-denial of sorts on her part. Kanapi had been molested as a teenager for a number of years. She had also had to deal with being battered by the father of her son when they were still in a relationship. She assumed that whatever it was she was going through was related more to the trauma of those horrible times than it was to any possible chemical imbalances in her body.

"Research has pointed out that, aside from a possible genetic disposition to acquiring bipolar disorder, there are also 'outside' factors such as environment, trauma and substance abuse," she says. "I definitely got hit on the growing up environment and trauma factors."

Elepaño notes that the episodes of mania and depression vary in duration and intensity. A "low" level of depression could manifest as fatigue and disinterest in daily activities; a "high" level could result in stupor or catatonia.

A "low" level of mania can result in individuals being energetic, excitable and highly productive, while in "high" levels, individuals can be erratic and impulsive.

"At the highest levels of either mania or depression, individuals can have delusions-very distorted beliefs about what is actually real," he says. "This is known as psychosis."

Due to lack of proper identification of her condition and treatment that could have addressed it, Kanapi reached psychosis temporarily in 2006. A confluence of multiple stressors overwhelmed her. She started hearing voices and noises. "I'd complain to the barangay captain and find out there wasn't anyone making noises after all." She developed paranoia and agoraphobia. She became suicidal.

It was then that a friend staged an intervention and was able to refer Kanapi to Dr. Augusto "Jojo" Cruz, a psychiatrist at Philippine General Hospital's Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Medicine, who was (finally) able to diagnose her disorder accurately.

"Research has shown that the prevalence of bipolar disorder is similar in men and women, across different ethnic groups and cultures," says Elepaño.

While some possible causes of bipolar disorder have been correlated to various physical and chemical abnormalities in the brain (no single cause has been identified), "unfortunately, despite research and technological advances, a cure has yet to be found. Bipolar disorder is still primarily managed by controlling its manifestations. It's best treated with mood stabilizing medicines and psychotherapy."

It took Kanapi and her doctor about a year to figure out the appropriate combination and dosages of different medicines that could stabilize her moods to a point where she could function "normally."

It wasn't a smooth ride. She had to adjust to the different side effects, bristling at having to constantly monitor her medicine intake and any changes in her moods and behavior.

Kanapi, like many other individuals with bipolar disorder who struggle to reconcile authority over their bodies, once went "off meds." She stopped taking her medicines in 2009, derailing progress she had already accrued.

"I was tired and angry at the label of being bipolar." But with support from Cruz, she eventually found her way back to taking her medication.

Unlike when she didn't know what was causing her erratic and intense mood swings, the diagnosis had liberated Kanapi from her former fears. With a more stable persona and newfound confidence, she'd started to disclose her condition to her colleagues in the theater industry. But her initial efforts were met with confused reactions, to say the least.

Kanapi recounts when she had returned to rehearsals after an absence of two days and, another time at another production, after she'd been in a motorcycle accident. "People patronizingly presumed my poor performance during rehearsals were because of me being bipolar. But anyone who'd been away from those rehearsals for legitimate reasons like I did would have had the same problems catching up."

Insensitive and uninformed non-sequiturs irked her. "People would say, 'No wonder you're a good actress, you're bipolar,' and that upset me because it doesn't make sense and it's a strange assumption. It's like saying someone is creative just because they're gay or someone is a good runner just because they're from Africa."

"You don't need angst and you don't need to be traumatized to be an actor. That's why it's called 'acting!' You just have to work hard on your craft. I've been saying that even before I was diagnosed."

Working hard
Statements that credit bipolar disorder for her own achievements insult her because it diminishes the hard work she puts into her craft as an actress, as a person. "I am not my disorder," she proclaims. "I'm responsible. I take my meds. I know what's going on. I work hard."

She's developed a straight-to-the-point spiel for informing the people she works with about her condition. "I tell them I have bipolar disorder. I tell them I'm taking my meds and I see my doctor at least once a month. But if I start noticing any strange behavior from myself or if they start noticing anything, we can work it out."

There is power in knowing the limitations of her body, now that she knows the real score in terms of what's going on inside her. Kanapi always consciously observes her moods and behavior. In fact, at one point, she even voluntarily had herself admitted to a healthcare facility to augment her treatment because she acknowledged she needed the help.

She admits she could do with more assistance if it were available. "I hope for that day that mental health disorders could be covered by medical insurance here in the Philippines," she says.

She occasionally skips meals so she can have enough money to buy her medicines. "Drugs for mental health do not come cheap but I prioritize my medicines because I'm aware of my responsibilities to myself, my colleagues and to society."

A society that still stigmatizes mental health disorders, she points out. "For example, it's easy to fall into the trap of joking about how actors are all a little crazy anyway." But Kanapi emphatically advocates against the use of medical terms when making jokes.

"People sometimes joke about how they're feeling 'bipolar' or they tease a friend as 'schizophrenic,' and that's not appropriate. You don't know what it's really like. And if you don't really know what it means, don't use it flippantly. You wouldn't want to be where we are."

But this doesn't mean she's lost her sense of humor. When asked why she chose to grant an interview detailing her condition, she replies, "Well, I've always been considered 'luka-luka' anyway," with a loud bellow.

Facetiousness aside, she says that she's at a point in her life where she's finally come to terms with her condition. "It's still a tough disorder but I don't mind what people say anymore."

Kanapi doesn't harbor goals of becoming a poster girl for bipolar disorder. While she would like to see changes in society, her energies are focused on living a stable a life as possible. Her relationship with her now adult son has improved since she was diagnosed. "Now we both know what I have and we deal with it. I'm thankful for that."

Meanwhile, she thrives as best as she can. "I stay at home when I don't have acting jobs. I channel my restlessness with my biking, running and swimming. I transform my listlessness by dancing to music. I continue to do acting work. I live my life."

Dr. Augusto "Jojo" Cruz of Philippine General Hospital can be reached at +63-917-896-4210. 
Dr. Ronald Elepaño of The Medical City Hospital can be reached at +63-927-468-9708.

K-La Rivera learns a lead role in just six days

How to learn a lead role in six days–take it from K-La Rivera
By Walter Ang
Oct. 26, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

K-La Rivera
The theater community, practitioners and audiences alike, have been abuzz about an actress who learned a lead role in six days.

When Mikkie Bradshaw fell ill after the Friday opening night of Atlantis Productions’ recent staging of “Carrie,” a musical based on Stephen King’s novel, K-La Rivera was approached to step into the titular role.

Atlantis called her the following Saturday morning, asking her to come in to learn the songs, dialogue and blocking so she could open the show the following Friday.

“I was going to school, it was our finals week,” recalls the actress who’s currently taking up Communications at Miriam College.

“My heart just dropped. I had just watched Mikkie the night before. I was so happy for her when she got the role because I knew she really wanted it. I was devastated for her. I knew how important the role and the show were for her,” Rivera says. “I didn’t know if I could do it. I informed my professors and went in to rehearse. On the way, I cried and I was freaking out. I asked myself, ‘Can I do this?’”

From scratch
Unlike if she were to learn a role from a long-running, popular musical where some of the songs might have been familiar, Rivera didn’t know any of the songs from the musical save for one, which she sang when she auditioned for “Carrie.”

Except that it was for another character.

“When I arrived at the studio, the staff was already there to teach me the songs,” she says. “Mikkie had been preparing for the role for almost a year because she was cast since last year. I couldn’t imagine how I could learn the role in just six days.”

But it happened. Saturday was spent learning 13 songs. She learned the blocking for Act 1 on Sunday, Act 2 on Monday (she had “dropped script” by then, meaning she had her lines memorized and no longer held a script while rehearsing).

A run-through of Act 1 was done on Tuesday, Act 2 on Wednesday. Thursday was for a run-through of the entire musical. The first time she rehearsed with the band was on Friday afternoon, just hours before her opening show.

She opened that night—to acclaim from audiences and reviewers alike. (Bradshaw recovered and returned for the production’s last weekend and alternated with Rivera for the remaining shows. Rivera was called up on stage at the last show’s curtain call, where she sang a duet with Bradshaw and shared a bow.)

“It was unreal. I couldn’t have done it without the entire cast and crew. They were very supportive. They never once pressured me,” she says.

During rehearsals, to get Rivera up to speed on where onstage she was supposed to be, the cast employed what theater folk endearingly call the “push-and-pull” method of blocking, where they literally pushed and pulled an actor to guide her along.

“It helped that Carrie was bullied a lot, so it was OK that I was being pushed around,” Rivera says, chuckling.

Coactress Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, who played Carrie’s abusive mother, also offered support.
“She kept telling me not to worry and that, worse comes to worst, if I blank out on stage, she would just slap me!” she says, laughing.

Rivera’s past experiences were what built up the endurance and reserves that equipped her through the one-week preparation. She loved performing as a child. Born and raised in Canada, she constantly joined choirs, productions and pageants at a young age.

When she was 13, she landed a singing appearance in Las Vegas. With frequent trips back and forth to Manila, she was also approached by a Philippine record label for a contract.

“But I was too young then,” she says.

In 2009, Rivera relocated to Manila to establish a career. By 2011, her hard work started paying off. She was a finalist in ABS-CBN’s “Starpower,” a talent competition, and won MYX’s “VJ Search.” That same year, she had her professional stage debut as Nina Rosario in Atlantis’ “In the Heights.”

Last year, she played Princess Jasmine in Atlantis’ staging of “Disney’s Aladdin” opposite Tom Rodriguez as the titular character.

Kind of crazy
K-La Rivera plays Wednesday Addams
with Ryan Gallagher as Lucas Beineke
The bubbly, earnest Rivera is all humility when she shrugs off the “Carrie” feat. “I’m kind of crazy kasi e,” she says, laughing. “I just jump into things. Like when I moved from Canada to Manila, I just went ahead and did it. When I landed at the airport, it hit me that I was finally here on my own. With a lot of things in my life, I just go for it. Life is short! Never once in my life did I ever say to myself, ‘That’s impossible.’”

The craziness, this time, is appropriate as Rivera prepares for her new role as a somewhat off-kilter character: as Wednesday Addams in Atlantis’ staging of the musical “The Addams Family.”

Created by cartoonist Charles Addams, the Addams Family is a “ghoulish American family with an affinity for all things macabre.”

The original comic panels have inspired several television series, movies and even video games. A 1991 movie adaptation starred Cristina Ricci as Wednesday with Angelica Houston and Raul Julia as the family’s matriarch and patriarch, Morticia and Gomez.

The musical, which uses a new story line, debuted on Broadway in 2011 with book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and music and lyrics by Drama Desk-winning composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa. The local staging stars Arnell Ignacio and Eula Valdes as Gomez and Morticia Addams, respectively.

Rivera relishes the prospect of fleshing out a creepy character: “I love scary movies. And I love theater. It combines everything I enjoy doing: singing, dancing, acting. I love trying out new things and expanding my horizons.”

“The Addams Family” is directed by Bobby Garcia, with musical direction by Ceejay Javier, choreography by Cecile Martinez, costume design by Pepsi Herrera, set design by Faust Paneyra and lighting design by Dong Calingacion. It runs Nov. 15 to Dec. 1 at Meralco Theater, Pasig City. Contact 8927078. Tickets also available through Ticketworld at 8919999 or ticketworld.com.ph

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Paolo Rodriguez designs bead jewelry

He acts with Eula Valdes, Wilma Doesnt –and supplies their bangles, too
By Walter Ang
Oct. 9, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Paolo Rodriguez
During a break from rehearsals one day, Paolo Rodriguez found out that some women in the cast were willing to skip a meal in order to save money to buy a pair of earrings.

“I was fascinated by it,” he says. “I started selling accessories that I bought from Divisoria.”
When his clients started to place orders with specific materials and sizes that Rodriguez couldn’t find, he started making them himself. He’s been selling his designs to the theater community since.

“Eula Valdes asked me to make her a big armband. Wilma Doesnt inspired me to make big, big statement earrings,” he says.

He’s peddled necklaces, bracelets and earrings, among other pieces, to coactors in his recent productions such as Philippine Educational Theater Association’s (Peta) “’D Wonder Twins of Boac” where he played Malvolio; Resorts World Manila’s “The King and I” where he was a monk in the ensemble; and Tanghalang Pilipino’s (TP) “Tatlong Mariya” as Daniel.

Eula Valdes wearing Paolo Rodriguez bead jewelry.
Rodriguez attributes his innate ability to design and create jewelry to his environment growing up. “I spent my childhood among craftsmen. It’s second nature for me to use my hands,” he says.

Born and raised in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, his mother was a street vendor who sold fruits, vegetables and merienda fare; and his father worked as a carpenter.

“When I was growing up, my family couldn’t afford toys. All of my toys were made by my father. Sometimes I made my own toys using old cans or dirt,” he recalled.

Growing up smack in the middle of the market provided rich influences that captured his imagination and creativity.

He’d seen the colorful results of meticulous artistry. “I grew up seeing the wares of Maranao jewelers, tabak (swords) makers and potters. I saw the woven banig (mats) of Maguindanaoans,” he said.

He was also exposed to beauty in functional materials. “We had a neighbor who built trucks. There was an upholstery shop nearby. I would see some Manobo making rattan furniture in the neighborhood where my father, a very skilled furniture maker, used to work.”

Love of singing
Bead jewelry by Paolo Rodriguez.
It wasn’t just the sights, but also the sounds of a bustling market that fed his impressionable young mind.

“My mother had a stall near a movie theater, so I would watch movies all the time because we didn’t have a television at home. And if I couldn’t watch, I would listen to the dialogue because they had speakers outside the theater. I know all the theme songs of different movies,” he says, laughing.

By the time he relocated to Manila for college, his love for singing made him acquiesce to his friends’ urging to join Dulaang Asilaw, the resident theater group of New Era University, where he took up Mass Communications.

The theater bug bit hard, and he ended up being the group’s president for two consecutive years.
After graduation, Rodriguez auditioned to join the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors Company, its resident pool of actors.

“Before college, the idea of becoming an actor didn’t really register in my mind, but the more I did it, the more I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The rest is history,” he says of his career, which now spans work mostly for TP, Peta, as well as television and film.

Keeping grounded
When his parents finally saw him on stage, in the titular role of TP’s “The Romance of Magno Rubio,” it was also their first time ever to watch a play.

When Rodriguez stabbed another actor, his mother, seated in the front row, shouted, “Hoy makatama ka!”

“In my next scene, I was supposed to break down, but I was trying so hard to contain my laughter. Good thing I had my back to the audience,” he recalls.

And when Rodriguez brought home an acting award during college, his father deadpanned, “My grandfather acted in the moro-moro, too.”

Aside from retailing his pieces, Rodriguez’s beadwork has also been used in Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas’ “Orosman at Zafira” as well as in TV shows such as “Indio” and “Amaya.”

“I miss doing production design. The last time I did work like that was back in college. I would design the sets and props, and go to Divisoria to buy the materials needed. The entire budget for a production would only be P5,000,” he says, laughing.

Rodriguez continues to do acting work while creating bead jewelry. He works mostly using seed beads, but can also work with semiprecious stones.

“The smaller the materials, the better. I love intricate designs,” he says.

Contact Paolo Rodriguez at 0917-5417849.

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REVIEW: ‘Der Kaufmann: Ang Negosyante ng Venecia’–terror made all too real

‘Der Kaufmann: Ang Negosyante ng Venecia’–terror made all too real
By Walter Ang
Oct. 5, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Pardon the language, but there is no other way to describe Tanghalang Pilipino's staging of "Der Kaufmann: Ang Negosyante ng Venecia" except to say it is a complete mindf*ck.

William Shakespeare's "The Comical History of the Merchant of Venice" has a bunch of Christians turn the tables on Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, over an unpaid debt. Portia, the female protagonist, uses legal maneuverings to defeat him, predating Elle Woods of "Legally Blonde" by centuries.

The tables are turned in a different way in Rody Vera's adaptation. While portraying Shylock as a sympathetic character (versus an anti-Semitist caricature stock villain) started as early as the 19th century, Vera transposes the action squarely onto the event that informs the identification of Jews since the mid-20th century: the Holocaust.

Vera reworks a British playwright's 16th century piece that's set in Italy using a Tagalog translation by National Artist for Theater and Literature Rolando Tinio, layering it with Nazi Germans forcing Jews and homosexuals to perform characters in the play while the tormentors play the "good" guys.

A short chilling prologue to establish this concept, which includes a baby carriage not to be seen again, introduces the play's first line. The titular character Antonio's (an affecting, effective Marco Viana) "Ewan ko ba kung bakit ang lungkot-lungkot ko," takes on a vastly differentiated meaning that casts a dark, sinister color on the rest of the play.

Vera's risky layer transforms the comedy into a psychological suspense horror drama. With a competent ensemble adeptly co-directed by Vera and TP artistic director Tuxqs Rutaquio, the highly charged staging is deeply disturbing and suffocatingly intense.

Audiences during the Bard's time may have found it clever and fun to watch young boys (women weren't allowed to act) portray female characters who cross-dress as men, as Portia does later on in the play. Audiences to this production are bound to note the cruelty and absurdity of having people forced to act in a comedy under duress.

The wretched
Rutaquio's set design, a two-tiered enclosure with wire fences, repurposed from last season's "Walang Kukurap," is a cold, creepy setting that twists Tanghalang Batute's usually intimate vibe into a constricting concentration camp. John Battalia's lighting design and TJ Ramos' sound design adds harshness and anxiety. 

Audiences are constantly reminded of the Nazi's unrelenting depravity and ruthlessness via Viana and Jovanny Cadag (Salanio)'s scared, pained expressions and startled jerks of fright; portrayed here as bearers of the inverted pink triangle.

Reduced to one of many mice being played with by cats before being devoured is the father of a Jewish family forced to play Shylock. Jonathan Tadioan elevates the much maligned moneylender into a real harrowed individual, imbuing Shylock with vulnerability, turmoil and indignation. 

Raquel Pareño plays the man's wife and is coerced to parody Shylock's famous "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech. She acquiesces with a sharp performance.

When Shylock discovers the loss of his daughter and his money, in an inspired bit of stragecraft by the directors and actors, the production's staging multiplies and magnifies the loss poignantly.

The torturers 
Leading the incessant torture are Tracy Quila, whose crazed eyes fire up a dangerous and menacing Gratiano, who does nothing remotely related to the meaning of his name (grace); and Regina de Vera, whose chilling glare captures a calculating, bossy Portia.

The sense of mercy that Portia appeals to in Shylock at the merchant's trial is exactly what she withholds from him (regardless of a comedic or sympathetic interpretation of the moneylender's character). What would have been lighthearted cheers at Portia's every turn of winning argumentation now becomes line upon line of unrelenting humiliation and degradation of Shylock.

The occasional laughs (locked with a sense of unease) come by way of Doray Dayao's funny Nerissa, Aldo Vensilao's Lancelot burlesquing the Führer, Lou Veloso's (as always) spot-on comic timing as Gobbo. But here lies the genius (or insanity) of the staging: Is it okay to laugh at the funny bits?

Do we laugh because we know this is supposed to be a comedy and our brains fight to reconcile it as so, despite the new hair-raising context? Do we laugh because we know the context, though based on real events, isn't real and therefore easier to become desensitized to?

After a particularly harrowing scene, the nonchalance at which the Nazi actors portray the succeeding idyllic scene creates a sense of discomfort for the audience. These ambiguous reactions are elicited by the production's staging, which highlights what has actually been embedded by Shakespeare into the lines: Portia concludes, "… nababatid kong hindi pa ganap ang inyong pagkakaunawa sa nangyaring lahat."

Though addressed to the other characters, it functions for the audience, too. Yes, how does one even begin to understand the horrors our fellow men inflict on each other? And what of the unpaid debts and injustices outside the theater? 

Of fundamentalist Islam groups perpetuating the stereotype that all Muslims are war freaks. That the Philippines is the only country left in the world that doesn't allow divorce while countries left and right have started to allow gay marriages. Of the farce that has politicians implicated of mishandling public funds using verbal acrobatics to defend themselves. The terrors threatening love, dignity and freedom abound. They are all very real and the joke may very well be on us.

"Der Kaufmann: Ang Negosyante ng Venecia" runs until Oct. 13, 2013 at Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Cultural Center of the Philippines. 

Discounts available for students, senior citizens, government and military employees and persons with disabilities. Contact 09177500107, 09189593949, 8321125 loc. 1620/1621. Tickets also available through Ticketworld at 8919999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph.

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Angel Aquino conquers her monsters with ‘Closer’

Angel Aquino conquers her monsters with ‘Closer’
By Walter Ang
Sept. 28, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Angel Aquino
It’s been a year of firsts for Angel Aquino.

A few months ago, she started making her own water kefir—sugar water or juice that has been fermented with grains that contain bacteria and yeasts. “I started out with four tablespoons of kefir grains and now I have five jugs of kefir water,” she says.

Aquino discovered water kefir from a friend and decided to brew her own. “I have friends who are vegetarians and their healthy eating habits seem to be rubbing off on me,” she says. She brings a glass bottle filled with the amber liquid, rich in probiotics and B vitamins, everywhere she goes.

She takes sips from it during rehearsals and tapings for her work in movies and television. This year, she did her first portrayal of a male-to-female transgender character in the film “Porno,” written by Ralston Jover and directed by Adolf Alix Jr. The film was shown in the recently concluded 9th Cinemalaya film festival.

This year, she is also debuting in her first full-length play in English. Aquino is in Patrick Marber’s “Closer,” Red Turnip’s maiden production. Directed by Ana Abad Santos, the play is a four-character piece that deals with relationships and betrayal.

She is sharing the stage with Cris Villonco, Bart Guingona and Marc Abaya. “Closer” has been adapted into a film version directed by Mike Nichols and starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen.

Breaking out
Feeling shy and awkward in high school, Aquino had never done any school activity that involved performing. In college, she broke out of her shell in a very big way. Discovered by film director Jeffrey Jeturian in a mall, she became one of the country’s top fashion models.

She transitioned to acting in time, debuting in the film “Mumbaki,” written by Amado Lacuesta and Butch Perez, directed by Perez. Many award-winning movie roles and television hosting stints followed. A recent credit is “On the Job,” written by Erik Matti and Michiko Yamamoto, directed by Matti. The film premiered at this year’s Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors’ Fortnight), a section of the Cannes International Film Festival.

She also recently won Best Supporting Actress for her turn in “Ang Huling Cha-cha ni Anita” at the recent Cine Filipino Film Festival.

Clean slate
Her first foray on stage was in 2002, performing a single monologue in “The Vagina Monologues” staged by New Voice Company, at the Folk Arts Theater, no less. And, later that same year, in a restaging as only one of three actresses for the whole show.

Aquino was intrigued by the film version of “Closer” when it came out in the cinemas. “I bought two DVD copies because the first one didn’t work. The second one ended up not working, too,” she recalls.

Which apparently prefigured her eventual involvement in the play. “When I prepare for a role, I want to come in with a clean slate, without having seen previous versions. I want to do my own take,” she says.

Aquino is thankful for the warm acceptance of her fellow actors, since she needed to calibrate her acting methods.

“[In movies and TV] our scenes are very short, the emotions are there and then they’re gone, unlike in a play where it’s two hours straight,” she explains. “I have to shift the underplaying I am more used to. I have a hard time going ‘overboard.’ It’s not the kind of space I give myself.”

At first, “I asked myself what I got myself into, opening myself up to criticism, feeling vulnerable… But I don’t like staying in my comfort zone. So it’s a new kind of learning for me. It’s a new monster I have to conquer.”

“Closer” features set design by Gino Gonzales, lighting design by John Batalla and costume design by Raven Ong. Sound design will be by Jethro Joaquin with original songs by William Manzano.

Red Turnip’s “Closer” runs Oct. 4-27 at Whitespace, 2314 Don Chino Roces Ave. (formerly Pasong Tamo Ext.), Makati City. Contact 0908-8829750. Tickets also available through Ticketworld at 8919999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph.

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UPLB stages ‘Banwa!,’ based on ‘The Jungle Book’

UPLB stages ‘Banwa!,’ based on ‘The Jungle Book’
By Walter Ang
Sept. 21, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Arts and Sciences is staging “Banwa!” by Om Velasco, under Joey Ting’s direction.

“Banwa!” is a translation and adaptation of Edward Mast’s “Jungalbook,” a play adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories, “The Jungle Book.”

The book is a collection of stories dealing with Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle with the help of Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther, and his encounters with the tiger Shere Khan. First published in 1894, the book is now in the public domain and e-book versions can be downloaded for free from sites such as Gutenberg.org and Amazon.com.

Neil Gaiman’s children’s fantasy novel “The Graveyard Book,” is inspired by Kipling’s book while a popular adaptation is Disney’s 1967 animated musical film version of the same title. The movie was adapted for the stage in Chicago (premiering this past June) by Goodman Theater and Huntington Theater Company with book and direction by Mary Zimmerman.

Laws of the jungle
Mast’s play shifts the action of the Indian jungle to a children’s playground, while Velasco’s “Banwa!” transposes the adaptation to Filipino culture.

Mowgli is now Kawayan and he deals with inhabitants of the jungle such as kuwago (owl), buwaya (crocodile), musang (wild cat), unggoy (monkey), sawa (snake), elepante (elephant), uwak (crow), baboy ramo (wild boar), among others.

“In the Visayas region, ‘banwa’ means ‘town,’” says director Joey Ting. “The adaptation explores the parallels between the laws of the jungle and those of the human community.”

Ting has done directing work for the stage, television and events. Recent credits include Tagalog translations of Euripides’ “Elektra” and Harold Pinter’s “The Dumbwaiter.”

“It’s a play that talks about human survival and hope. The staging deals with territoriality, culture, folklore, ritual and the laws that bind the resident dwellers.”

Blending styles
Ting aims to incorporate “major influences from popular and traditional artistic forms” in his staging: “The evolving concept of Dadaism, contemporary pop art and culture, industrial and machine art installations, stylistic movement, techno-folkloric music combination, and circus-like elements and spectacle using kinesics (body motion), proxemics (interaction with space), and aero-dynamics (concept of flying and aerial stunts).”

Trevor Lim, Gife Laforteza and Ronald Paolo Luna alternate in the role of Kawayan.
Music is by Alfred Dalisay with movement and choreography by Jeremy dela Cruz. Set design by Janelle Cabrera and Renz Nollase, costume design by Maria Carina Quintos and Alecx Bagotsolon, lighting design by Karla Napay, and sound design by Julio Luna.

“Banwa!” runs Sept. 25-27 at Senior Social Garden, University of the Philippines-Los Baños, Laguna. Contact 0916-3390541 or 0906-8785837. Like on Facebook (“Banwa!”).

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‘Carrie’–a musical prelude to Halloween

‘Carrie’–a musical prelude to Halloween
By Walter Ang
Sept. 14, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Atlantis Productions will stage the suspense-horror musical “Carrie” in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

The musical is based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel (first published in 1974) about a girl who is bullied in school and suffers under a cruel mother. She soon discovers a special power that she wields over her tormentors.

Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo headlines the show as the titular character’s mother Margaret White, while Mikkie Bradshaw (“Rock of Ages,” “Nine,” “Disney’s Aladdin,”) will play Carrie.
An upcoming film adaptation has Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother and Chloe Grace Moretz (“Hugo,” “Kick-Ass,” “(500) Days of Summer”) as Carrie. Prior to this version, there was a 1976 film adaptation directed by Brian De Palma, starring Sissy Spacek in the title role.

The musical version debuted on Broadway in 1988 with book by the film’s screenwriter Lawrence Cohen, music by Michael Gore (“Fame,” “Terms of Endearment”), and lyrics by Dean Pitchford (“Fame,” “Footloose”).

The 1988 version was critically panned and closed after only five performances. The incident was notorious enough to be immortalized in the title of Ken Mandelbaum’s book “Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops.”

Last year, a reworked version by the original collaborators was staged on a limited engagement Off-Broadway, earning numerous nominations from different award-giving bodies.

Atlantis is staging the 2012 version. “It is a beautifully tragic retelling of the Cinderella story with an amazing Broadway pop score,” says Atlantis’ artistic director Bobby Garcia, who is directing the show with Jamie Wilson as assistant director and Ceejay Javier as musical director.

Choreography is by Cecile Martinez, with set design by Otto Hernandez, lighting design by Martin Esteva, sound design by Bobbit Jacinto and costume design by Raven Ong.

“Carrie the Musical” runs Sept. 20 to Oct. 6 at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza Bldg., Makati City. Tel. nos. 8927078, 8401187 or 0917-8381534. Visit atlantisproductionsinc.com. Tickets also available through Ticketworld at 8919999 or ticketworld.com.ph.

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Noel Rayos–singer, actor, serious bike collector

Noel Rayos–singer, actor, serious bike collector
By Walter Ang
Sept. 7, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Noel Rayos
Noel Rayos doesn't just ride bicycles, he folds them with his bare hands, too.

No, he's not a muscleman who bends metal for fun. Rayos is a versatile actor who is at ease in plays and musicals, comedy and drama, English and Tagalog and once had a bike stolen, even though it was chained and locked.

"I never again owned a non-folding bike that I couldn't bring inside to where I was going," he says.

"My first folding bike was a 12-inch wheel Dahon copy from Zhuhai, Mainland China. I've bought and sold dozens of others since then."

Rayos tread the boards recently as Tenyong in Tanghalang Pilipino's "Walang Sugat," Dasaratha/ Lakshmana in Ballet Philippines' "Rama Hari," (for which he won the 2012 Philstage Gawad Buhay! Male Featured Performance in a Musical) and Princeton/Rod in Atlantis Productions' Singapore run of "Avenue Q." He was also in Philippine Opera Company's ensemble show "Ang Bagong Harana."

He's been doing theater work professionally since the mid-90s, starting out with Repertory Philippines. "I've had several teachers but I most look up to the late [Rep founding artistic director] Zeneida Amador as my mentor. She taught me about theater as a craft, a lifetime calling."

His first encounter with her, however, goes a little further back. "She directed our school production when I was a student at De La Salle-Santiago Zobel School and I've been in theater ever since."

Until the mid-2000s, he was a resident actor for Rep, appearing in almost all its productions every season. He had occasional forays into shows by Philippine Educational Theater Association (Peta) and Triumphant People's Evangelistic Theatre Society (Trumpets) as well as Singapore Action Theatre's "Chang and Eng the Musical."

Rayos then became a performer at Hong Kong Disneyland for three years straight and has since been flying back and forth for projects in Manila, for Gantimpala Theater, among others, and the rest of Asia.

He currently has 16 folding bikes, two of which are for regular commuting while the rest are for leisure and fun.

Other than flipping over twice because of "overrated brakes" while breaking in a certain model that he'd acquired, Rayos rides them everywhere with no incident. "My latest all-round commuter bike weighs just over seven kilos. I bring her everywhere, and if it rains, I fold and take her on the bus or MRT. I average about 100 kilometers per week on it."

"They attract a lot of attention but, overwhelmingly, the reaction is positive for the bikes' cool-cute factor."

Rayos says his collection went into "overdrive" when he moved back to Manila. "There's lots of space in my parents' house in Las Piñas, unlike my tiny condo in Makati and the dinky apartments I lived in when I worked overseas in Macau, Hong Kong and Mainland China-which is the Mecca of folding bikes in Asia next to Japan."

When it comes to his collection, Rayos knows his stuff. He rhapsodizes about these contraptions, ticking off the different models' specs such as cogs, cranks, rear sprockets, Kevlar belt drives, pneumatic wheels, and greaseless enclosed dual-chains, whatever those mean.

From scouring the internet to getting leads from fellow riders and enthusiasts, Rayos' collection includes models from all over the world: Europe, America and Asia.

"My Zerobike was made in Spain and retailed in Japan from where it was imported by a Malaysian surplus bike seller and sent to Singapore from where my friend was nice enough to send it via balikbayan box it to me in Manila. It's a very well-traveled bike!" he says laughing.

He has one purchased from a dealer in Manila who used to be connected to the Light Rail Transit Authority. Apparently, folding bikes had been purchased for mass distribution but plans were scrapped when there was a change of administration. "It weighs 10 kilos with 16-inch wheels and still has an LRT sticker on it."

In addition, Rayos owns five unicycles. His tallest "giraffe" unicycle is five-feet high and comes with a yellow tire. "But I have spare red and white tires. I juggle on that one."

Rayos got into unicycling only a few years ago while working for the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino in Macau. He'd been assigned to do promotions work and he started to miss performing. "I bugged my coworkers, a stiltwalker and a unicycle clown, to teach me their skills."

He now goes to Hong Kong once every few months to do stiltwalking or unicycle juggling gigs.

Rayos has, obviously, a high sense of body awareness. As it turns out, he's also a fifth kyu (level) aikidoka (aikido practitioner). "It's a great 'soft-style' martial art that develops balance, flexibility and centeredness. I got into it after watching Steven Segal films. He's aikido's most famous practitioner."

For now, he's preparing to begin rehearsals for Trumpets' musical "The Bluebird of Happiness," based on Maurice Maeterlinck's play "The Blue Bird," with book and lyrics by Jaime del Mundo and music by Rony Fortich.

A homecoming of sorts, as he originated the role of Prince Christian for the group's "Little Mermaid" back in 2000.

He's looking forward to the venue of their rehearsals. "I heard the location hall is a bit out-of-the-way, a good excuse to use my bikes!"

For unicycling, juggling and stiltwalking bookings, contact +639157650226. "Bluebird of Happiness" runs Sept. 20 to Oct. 20 at Meralco Theater. For sponsorship or show buying, contact 9014364.

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Technical director Ohm David's horror collection

He has daughters named Anakin and Antigone, and a premium collection of horror toys
By Walter Ang
August 24, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Ohm David
Growing up in a family of scientists, Ohm David was nicknamed the measurement unit of electrical resistance. "I was already in kindergarten when I realized I had another name, a 'real' name," he says, laughing.

The nickname may have proven predictive for his profession as resident technical director of Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas. As the job designation suggests, he handles the non-design components of the lighting, sound and set requirements for productions.

"For lights we encounter reading plans, wiring, focusing. For sets, we tackle drafting, reading and making plans, construction, painting."

Aside from hands-on skills, a technical director also needs organizational, administrative and planning skills, he says.

"Technical directors plan a production's technical schedule: when sets are constructed, lights are hung and focused, when sound equipment is tested. We work with directors, production managers and stage managers to determine the needs of a production. We help decide what materials to use, canvassing price of materials, etc."

"From rehearsals to actual shows, we have to ensure the safety of the stage, actors, the staff and the audience. The TD makes sure that everything will go as planned and the TD also troubleshoots problems."

David's work is slightly different from professional set-ups since he works for a school-based group. "Here at DUP, the technical director works with the theater majors to construct sets, from carpentry to painting, and make props, from sourcing to fabricating. For costumes, we learn how to take measurements, repair and launder."

As he is also a faculty member of the university's Speech Communication and Theater Arts department (the department handling DUP). He handles all theater practicum classes and teaches stagecraft.

When teaching, he always makes sure to stress "the theater history component that is connected to each technical topic." "It's important to do historical research on the background of the play, to know what the play is about, when it was written, why it was written, for whom it was written, etc."

Aside from his "scientific" environment growing up, David was also exposed to comic books. "I grew up reading comic books of my brother. I actually learned how to read because of comic books. Comics were my dictionaries when I was young."

He was drawn to series such as Marvel's "Strange Tales" and DC's "House of Mystery." "These were comic books comprised of tales and short stories reminiscent of the 'Twilight Zone' TV series."

"This was also the time I was so into horror movies, classic and cult fan favorite horror movies. I started reading Anne Rice novels and watching old horror movies like 'Nosferatu.'"

"I don't know why but I like scary stuff. I love to challenge my imagination and also see the reaction of other people to the things I do and like."

The strange, sci-fi, macabre milieu of these works inspired him to start collecting character figurines in high school, specifically those from the horror genre.

"I'm not choosy when it comes to materials or size. I don't buy just any toy I see, even if I like the character. What's important to me is craftsmanship. My collection is not that big pero piling pili. Sometimes it takes me years to save up and buy something, if I really like it."

His daughters Anakin and Antigone are unfazed by the collection and they play with the toys with David. "They're both named from tragic figures in literature and the movies," says David, smiling.

Actor to technical director
David had been acting since he was a child. "I usually got big roles onstage for school programs and productions. I joined speech contests and art competitions. In high school I acted in plays that I staged and designed." He'd once designed the lights for a friend's production using incandescent bulbs and flashlights.

His love for acting, reading, drawing, and imagining all fused together upon taking up Theater Arts at UP. He started out as an actor and eventually did props design, set design and lighting design, all of which molded him towards becoming a technical director.

"Having started out as an actor and a props head helps me in designing. It helps me figure out the geography of the set. I walk through it imagining myself as a character in the play."

David also has set design and lighting design credits. Recent set designs include Repertory Philippines' "The Joy Luck Club," Tanghalang Ateneo's "Fireflies," and DUP's "The Seagull/Ang Tagak" and "Collection." He's done the lighting design for productions in China, Pakistan, and England.

From the mid to late 2000s, David was the resident technical director, set, and lighting designer for Altera Pars Theater Company in Athens, Greece. There he designed numerous plays including Eve Ensler's "Necessary Targets" which ran for an entire year in Athens and toured Central Greece.

David is currently handling technical director duties for DUP's staging of John Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi." DUP founding artistic director Tony Mabesa directs both the English version and the Filipino translation ("Ang Dukesa ng Malfi") by Allan Palileo.

Banaue Miclat, Liza Diño, and Adriana Agcaoili alternate as the titular duchess who marries below her status, inciting the anger of her brothers, which results in schemes and murder.

Richard Cunanan, Neil Ryan Sese, and George de Jesus alternate as villain Bosola.

New York-based Obie award winner Clint Ramos handles set design and Eric Pineda handles costume design. Lighting design is by Meliton Roxas and sound design is by Jethro Joaquin. Choreography is by Peter Alcedo, Jr.

David enjoys working with different theater professionals. "Working with them opens my heart to vast images and new worlds, probabilities and impossibilities."

"The Duchess of Malfi/Ang Dukesa ng Malfi" runs Sept. 11-29 at Wilfrido Guerrero Theater, Palma Hall, University of the Philippines, Quezon City. Contact 9261349, 9818500 loc. 2449 or 4337840.

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