Arts Month 2010 features campus theater groups

Arts Month features campus theater groups
By Walter Ang
February 1, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Seven university-based theater groups have been chosen to perform in this year's Tanghal! National University and College Theater Festival organized by the National Commission of the Culture and Arts' National Committee on Dramatic Arts

Selected from more than 20 entries, the seven schools will stage the following works:

Ateneo De Manila University "Baha-bahang Buhay: Mga Kwentong Ondoy," De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde "Doc Resureccion: Gagamutin ang Bayan," and De La Salle University-Manila "Rizal is My President" for NCR;

Saint Louis University "Kabsat (Brother)," and University of the Philippines-Los BaƱos "Sa Sinapupunan ng Laot" for Luzon;

University of the Saint Augstin-Iloilo "Tarangban" for Visayas

and Mindanao State University-Iligan "SugaTula" for Mindanao.

"The festival runs from Feb. 1 to 5, 2010 and offers the best performances of university theater companies all over the country, truly showcasing the harvest of Philippine theater," says Glecy Atienza, committee chair and festival director. "Regional representation was carefully considered in the selection process."

Tanghal! is a flagship project of the National Arts Month celebration, designated for every February, as per Presidential Proclamation No. 683 signed by then President Corazon Aquino.

Last year's festival (Tanghal! 3) was held at Letran College in Calamba, Laguna. This year's festival (Tanghal! 4), co-presented by the University of Makati and Alyansa, a network of cultural groups from schools, churches, communities and workplaces in Metro Manila, will be held at De La Salle University-Manila and is open to the public.

In past festivals, most productions have usually been original plays that tackled issues such as climate change, floods, illegal mining, pop culture, and current events. Tanghal 4's theme is "Dulaan ng Kabataan para sa Mapagpalayang Edukasyon." Atienza says, "The theme is to highlight the college-based theater sector that actively works to contribute in the development and transformation of education through the medium of theater."

The festival is also aimed at establishing a more formal national network of college-based theater groups in the country. "We are pushing for this kind of networking to help sustain and facilitate collaborative work among theater groups and artists," she adds.

Social change
Aside from the performances dubbed "Itanghal," planning is ongoing to finalize "Tanghalin," a series of activities that will include regional theater events, exhibits, mini-performances, workshops, fora, exhibitions, and a market of theater souvenir items and regional products.

"Universities and colleges nationwide can be part of the festival by simply informing us of their February activities so that we can list them in the calendar and souvenir programme as off-site activities," says Atienza.

The festival also includes "Tanghalan ng Mag-aaral," a "National Collegiate Theatre Network" conference. "The conference aims to come up with an agenda for social change through theater using schools as an arena of experimentation for change," Atienza says.

"Theater artists from schools are expected to share their experiences and come up with an action plan which we hope to translate into a program. We expect to discuss not only artistic experiences but also directions and programs for the youth leaders. We are especially keen about training teachers who are in the special programs for the arts and special arts schools since they are the breeding ground for future artists."

Another initiative by the committee is a "preparatory consultation and research" project focusing on "regional theater aesthetics" that will culminate in a national conference in March.

Joseph Ramos, conference coordinator and artistic director of Teatro Sambisig (a community theater group based in Pandacan, Manila), has been working with theater artists from the four regions since last year to conduct preliminary meetings.

"We asked each region to identify and define their own research agenda. Their documentation of their respective works and efforts will serve as a guide and reference to other researchers, scholars, teachers, students, and theater artists," he says. "We discovered that there is very little documentation available. This is why we stress the 'preparatory' part of our project title?this really is still the beginning stage of what will hopefully become a long-term effort."

Atienza says, "Basically, we're after the articulation of what factors of Filipino theater are distinctively Filipino. What is Philippine theater? What makes Philippine theater theater? What makes Philippine theater Philippine?"

The conference is titled "Tanghalan! National Theater Aesthetics Conference," and will include speakers such as Br. Karl Gaspar from Mindanao; Cecil Nava and Lucien Letaba from Visayas; and Mary Carling and Rica Palis from Luzon; with Manny Pambid (Peta), Dennis Marasigan (formerly of Tanghalang Pilipino and CCP), and Ricky Abad (Ateneo) from NCR.

There is a wide range of topics such as the histories and aesthetics of selected professional, school-based and community-based theater groups; the dynamics of translating foreign scripts into Filipino and indigenizing foreign theater forms; and the perspectives of theater reviewers, among many others.

There are plans to compile the research results into an anthology. Given constraints in time and financial resources, Atienza notes that this pioneering conference has obvious limitations. "As much as we wanted more representatives, it's not feasible at this time. However, we hope that this event will inspire and encourage all Filipino theater artists to join us in future efforts."

For details, call 981-8500 loc. 2262 or 497-4023.

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