Peta's 41st season focuses on writers and their work

Peta's 41st season focuses on writers and their work 
By Walter Ang
April 14, 2008
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"We hope you will join us in another year of wondrous theater experience," said Maribel Legarda, Artistic Director of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (Peta), to a large group of teachers at the launch of the theater company's 41st season.

Having produced more than 300 productions (with some that have had runs that reached up to 40 shows) is by no means a small feat for this theater company that was founded in 1967.

Now settled in its own tony building, the Peta Theater Center (after leaving its longtime home at the Rajah Sulayman Theater in Intramuros three years ago), the company is once again teaming up with the decision-makers in schools and organizations to help them bring their brand of educational entertainment to more audiences.

The launch featured excerpts from the upcoming productions including song and dance numbers as well as staged readings of selected scenes.

Peta usually holds this "sneak peek" preview a few months before the season finally takes off in July, allowing potential show buyers to have a more tangible idea of what's in store for the coming year. It hopes to accord the buyers more time to prepare (such as doing the paperwork and budget justification for approval by higher-ups).

Touring production 
What may be the most appealing to organizations or schools outside of Metro Manila is the availability for touring of the back-to-back package of Peta's Children's Theater productions: Mga Kuwento Ni Lola Basyang and Batang Rizal. The excerpted scenes featured colorful costumes, high energy acting and upbeat tunes with hilarious dialogue.

Written by Christine Bellen, Lola Basyang features three of Severino Reyes' folktales while Batang Rizal tracks the journey of a student named Pepito as he time travels and meets Pepe, the young Rizal.

"Lola Basyang tackles mythical journeys that allow the characters and the audience towards self discovery and values formation," said Legarda. "Batang Rizal, on the other hand, revisits the notions of heroism and love of country from the point of view of a child. It unravels a child's understanding of what is truly heroic and selfless."

"Since both productions are performed by the same cast of actors, we offer a package where it's possible for the buyer to buy both shows at a lower rate than buying just one production," said Jette Gonzales, public relations manager.

"For example, the buyer could have a 10am performance of Lola Basyang for a younger audience and a 3pm performance of Batang Rizal for an older audience." Peta provides the cast, crew, light and sound equipment, props and costumes, and even tickets. The regular run at the Peta Center will be in September and October.

Writer in focus 
Peta's 41st season "recognizes the role of the writer in crafting performances and shaping the messages for the audience," said Legarda. "Thus, the theme 'The Writer and His Work.'

The season involves works of major Filipino writers as adapted by contemporary writers to reflect our current conditions. And in the same tradition, it will showcase works by European writers to allow both our artists and audiences to expand their perspective by allowing the works of these masters to mirror our own realities."

The season will kick-off in July with Noli-Fili (An adaptation), Nicanor Tiongson's adaptations of Rizal's two books, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, into one contemporary play set in a small town in the Quezon province.

"In this adaptation, the small town politics and social mores become the backdrop of Rizal's novels. The question of where change really emanates will be explored as we see how, after a hundred years later, Rizal's novel still resonates in contemporary Philippine Culture," said Legarda.

With an initially scheduled limited run of two shows in August is Tosca, an exciting collaborative production with Black Tent Theater of Japan and Practice Theater of Singapore. "Our three companies explore Puccini's opera in three approaches. Peta sets its interpretation during the Japanese occupation of Manila and explores Japanese Imperialism, patriotic love and selfish greed. The three interpretations intersect at certain points and create a tapestry of interpolations," she said.

This production was first staged in Japan and will go on to tour Asia after its Philippine premiere.

As a fitting postscript to the spate of Korean and Japanese ghost movies in recent years, November will see a staging of a ghost play, Saan Ba Tayo Ihahatid Ng Disyembre?, featuring one character with "clairvoyant, clairaudient and clairsentient tendencies."

This is the third of Tony Perez's trilogy on friendship love and compassion with the first two, Oktubre, Noong Tayo'y Nagmamahalan Pa and Nobyembre, Noong Akala Ko'y Mahal Kita, previously produced by the Cultural Center of the Philippines in the 1990s.

"The play is about the unbreakable love and bonding between best friends and among family members, despite complications of betrayal, jealousy and anger," Legarda said.

"The season ends with a pseudo festival in February to March called Adapting The European Masters. This will showcase an end to a ten-month project that will take at least forty of our artists, be they writers, directors and actors, into the study of European playwrights like Ibsen, Chekhov and Strindberg," she said.

The project involves analysis of the texts as written during its time eventually leading to the selection of specifics scenes to be mounted in a laboratory production. The final phase will see our young playwrights adapting these classics into contemporary Filipino adaptations using various approaches and styles.

For details, call 410-0821 or 0918-906-8083. Email

Also published online: