Battle Royale: novel is now a street play

Battle Royale: novel is now a street play
By Walter Ang
Feb. 27, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Preview of "Battalia Royale" performed earlier this year.
Sipat Lawin Ensemble has collaborated with several Australian playwrights to develop a performance adaptation of "Battle Royale"-the controversial novel by Koushun Takami that  spawned a movie version and a manga version.

"Battle Royale" is set in a dystopian Japan where a classroom of high school students is taken by a totalitarian government to an island and forced to kill each other until only one survivor remains.  Everyone is fitted with a collar that will explode should they try to escape the island or refuse to kill other students.

"The novel explores similar themes in 'Lord of the Flies.' It's a sharp satire on society's need for increasingly visceral entertainment," says SLE artistic director JK Anicoche.

"Our script has three different endings. Every show will have one of the three different ending depending on what happens that night."

This "stage" version (the work is intended for on-site outdoor performances), titled "Battalia Royale," will involve 40 actors.  Bodjie Pascua will play the classroom's teacher.

Page to stage
Students are forced to kill each
other in "Battle (Battalia) Royale."
Anicoche, who spent a year living in Japan, had always wanted to stage the material.  When his group staged David Finnigan's "To Heat You Up and Cool You Down" in Penguin Café, Malate in 2009, he found out Finnigan had been working on an improv routine based on the novel. They began collaborating.

Last year, they included filmmakers Sam Burns-Warr and Georgie McAuley, and writer Jordan Prosser in a month-long collaborative devising process to finalize a script.

"David and the other three playwrights came to Manila using their own money to work with SLE to devise the scenes and script," says Anicoche.  "They would set parameters, our actors would create the scene with Pinoy sensibilities, they wrote accordingly."

Sipat Lawin Ensemble usually performs "deconstructed" works that highlight collaborative development and ensemble acting.  The group usually performs in alternative or non-theater spaces like living rooms, parks, bars, bathrooms, etc.

They recently staged a Tagalog "jejemon" translation of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" retitled as "R'MeoW <3's JHuLEz." The production was performed in a barangay community basketball court, used delivery devices such as rap and fliptop, and had choreography that included hiphop and krumping.

Online and real world
For "Battalia," Anicoche directs.  Jazz band Radioactive Sago Project collaborates with Teresa Barrozo (scorer of Brillante Mendoza's "Kinatay") for the production's sound design.

SLE is also plans on publishing an online database of characters and weapons. (In the movie, the tools assigned to the students were luck of the draw, some getting weapons such as a machine gun and some getting items such as a paper fan.)

After it premieres at the main driveway ramp of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, plans are underway for possible performances in one of the prison cells in Fort Santiago and a warehouse in a yet-to-be-decided location.  For certain productions and performances, the group announces their venues only a few days prior through their online social networking accounts.

"Battalia Royale" runs March 9-11 at a yet-to-be-announced abandoned school in Cubao. Contact 0917-500-8753 or or add the group's Facebook page.

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Filipino, American, Japanese productions for campus season-enders

Filipino, American, Japanese productions 
for campus season-enders
By Walter Ang
Feb. 13, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero
Campus-based theater groups are concluding their respective 2011-2012 seasons.

Tanghalang Ateneo caps its season with Suzue Toshiro's “Fireflies.” a play where several characters are on a lonely search for connection and compassion in contemporary Japanese society.

Using the English Translation by David Goodman, the production will be directed by BJ Crisostomo and TA artistic director Ricardo Abad.

With set design by Ohm David, costumes design by Lhenvil Paneda, lighting design by Jonjon Villareal and sound design by Michiyo Reyes.

Toshiro, Head of Toho College of Music and Drama’s Drama Department, will hold a lecture-discussion on contemporary Japanese theater, open to the public.

Ateneo Blue Repertory closes its 2011-2012 season with a revival of “Bare,” a rock musical about two gay teenagers struggling to find their place in the world as they are about graduate from a Catholic high school.

Music, lyrics and book by Jon Hartmere Jr. and Damon Intrabartolo, Blue Rep first premiered this production in 2009.

Ana Abad-Santos directs with musical direction by Onyl Torres. Set design by Leeroy New, lighting design by John Batalla and costume design by Raven Ong.

ADMU offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts Major in Theater Arts, with concentration in disciplines such as acting, directing or production design. The program has student performances throughout the schoolyear.

“Fireflies” runs Feb. 9-25, 2012 at Rizal Mini-Theater, Ateneo De Manila University, Quezon City. Contact 0920-584-7421. Lecture by Toshiro on Feb. 24, 2012 at Fine Arts Theater Studio. Contact 426-6001 loc. 5331.

“Bare” runs Feb. 29-Mar. 10, 2012 at Teatrino Theater, Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan. Contact 0916-578-7618 or

Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas wraps up its 2011-2012 season with a staging of National Artist for Theater Wilfrido Guerrero's “Forsaken House” in celebration of his birth centennial.

Directed by Tony Mabesa, the play is set in the early 1940s and show the struggles of the controlling Don Ramon and his repressed children.

This is the first time the group will stage this play.

Leo Rialp and Joel Lamangan alternate as Don Ramon while Irma Adlawan and Tess Dumpit alternate as Don Ramon’s submissive wife Encarna.

Guerrero was a prolific playwright whose works were translated into several languages and performed internationally. 

He handled UP’s Dramatic Club as artistic director.  The organization eventually became Dulaang UP.  The theater where he staged most of his productions, then known as Liberal Arts Lecture Hall, was renamed after him in 1976. DUP uses the Guerrero Theater to this day.

With costume design by Eric Pineda, set design by Ohm David and set decoration by Gywn Guanzon, lighting design by Meliton Roxas, music by Boron Garcia, and sound design by Jethro Joaquin.

Dulaang UP is under the university’s Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts, which offers certificate and degree programs in Theater Arts. Aside from its season line-up, the group also stages its students’ thesis productions under its Dulaang Laboratoryo series throughout the schoolyear.

“The Forsaken House” runs Feb. 15-Mar. 4, 2012 at Wilfrido Guerrero Theater, University of the Philippines, Quezon City. Contact 0917-7500107 or 926-1349.

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Art in the Park 2012

Art in the Park 2012
By Walter Ang
Feb. 6, 2012 and Feb. 13, 2012
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Art aficionados, from the mildly curious to the passionate collector, can acquire art pieces at accessible prices at the annual Art in the Park on Feb. 18 at Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati.

"AITP stays true to its intent of making art more accessible by taking it out of the hushed, intimidating confines of the gallery, and bringing it to the unrestricted spaces of the outdoors," says Trickie Colayco-Lopa, who is co-chairing the event with Lisa Ongpin-Periquet.

Taglined as "an affordable art fair," exhibitors include a mix of galleries, art groups and fine arts schools, all sharing the space that's home to the Saturday Salcedo Organic Market.

From 12 exhibitors in the fair's inaugural year in 2006, this year will have more than forty exhibitors with varied works: paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs, among others.

Art for a cause
"AITP has become a much-awaited event in Manila's art calendar. Last year, we drew a crowd of 4,000 people for the one day event."

"We expect more to come this year. The fair opens at 2pm. We're extending the hours until midnight."

"Due to the demand for bigger pieces, we are increasing the price ceiling to P30,000.00, but as in the past, most of the pieces are reasonably priced way below our price ceiling."

Credit card terminals will be available at the fair.

Art In The Park is organized by the Museum Foundation of the Philippines, where Lopa and Periquet are trustees. The foundation's different programs generate support for the National Museum and its network.

Proceeds from previous AITP fairs have resulted in the construction of a room in the National Museum showcasing four Carlos Francisco (aka Botong) murals. The murals were created for the Philippine General Hospital but, due to conservation concerns, have since been transferred to the museum.

Different kinds of art
The fair is a convenient way to see works by established, emerging and new artists all in one place.

This year, art toys gallery Secret Fresh joins the fair for the first time, selling limited edition pieces by local artists.

Also on sale will be a video installation by Ivan Despi and Pauline Vicencio-Despi titled "Babel," which Lopa describes as "a kaleidoscope of body parts." Periquet adds, "It's riveting and cleverly put together."

As has become tradition, the fair also features installations by guest artists. Previous installations have included sculptor Leeroy New's wrapping one of the park's trees with orange plastic tubing and sculptor Pete Jimenez's scrap metal sculptures.

This year, Bacolod artist Charlie Co will create an installation with life-size figures based on one of his paintings. New returns to show his wearable sculptures.

"There's no pressure to buy, a lot of people come just to hang out," says Periquet.

There will be musical performances by jazz quartet Soulful Mood and hegalong (two-stringed T'boli boat lute/guitar) advocate Diwa de Leon (2011 Cinemalaya Best Sound and Best Musical Score trophies for Auraeus Solito's "Busong").

Refreshments will be available from Straits Wine Company, Window's Café, Nic's Bakeshop, Golden Spoon, and Rafik Shawarma.

A few feet away from the park, The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences will host an exhibit of TV personality Kim Atienza's personal collection of paintings.

Contact 404-2685 or visit

Also published online (Feb. 13, 2012 installment only):