Look who've banded together to form a new theater company: Red Turnip Theater Company

Look who've banded together to form a new theater company 
By Walter Ang
July 20, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Jenny Jamora, Topper Fabregas, Cris Villonco,
Rem Zamora, Ana Abad Santos
Defiance is at the core of the birth of new theater group Red Turnip.

Theater artists (in alphabetical order) Ana Abad Santos, Topper Fabregas, Jenny Jamora, Cris Villonco and Rem Zamora had been meaning to set up the group for a few years now, partly to break away from the current popular choices of the Manila theater industry.

Not that there's anything wrong with musicals or light subject matter, they point out. But given the slew of musicals and dearth of plays, they yearned to tackle work and topics that aren't "the usual comedy or farce."

The group wanted to do plays that were edgier than most, that didn't necessarily cater to perceived audience interest or commercial viability, that were "in your face."

On their free time, Abad Santos, Fabregas and Jamora would spearhead informal script readings of these kinds of plays.

"I [would] get a lot of requests from actors to just hang out and read into the wee hours of the morning. We'd read plays we'll probably never get to do. Just something for the soul," said Abad Santos in a previous interview.

Blood red In 2011, they staged "Unlimited Text," a fundraising project for the Philippine Theater Actors Guild where 19 actors read scenes from different plays.

"We wanted to celebrate the text. We wanted to share our celebration of the diverse talent of Philippine theater actors," said Abad Santos.

The group realized they didn't have to wait for a theater company to produce these kinds of materials for them to act in. The realized they could do it themselves. As the trio grew to absorb Villonco and Zamora, the next step was to figure out what to call themselves.

"We remembered what director and Repertory Philippines founding artistic director Zeneida `Bibot' Amador used to say,  `You can't squeeze blood from a turnip, but you can damn well paint it red!'" recalled Abad Santos.

"And that was it, we had our name. The spirit of her statement embodies the `against all odds,' rebellious energy that we feel. We looked at each other and we knew. `Let's just do it!'"

Season lineup For its inaugural season, Red Turnip's maiden production will be Patrick Marber's "Closer" in October this year, followed by Michael Bartlett's "Cock" in February 2014. Both playwrights are British and both plays are four-character pieces that deal with relationships and betrayal.

"Closer" has been adapted into a film version directed by Mike Nichols and starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen.

Abad Santos will direct "Closer," with Villonco, Marc Abaya, Angel Aquino and Bart Guingona in the cast.

"Love, aside from money, is what makes the world go round. Everyone has a deep desire to be loved. Love is so complex. The whole definition of love boggles the mind," she said. "And that's exactly what the group is attempting to explore.

Defiance is not just in spirit and name, but also in work methods. Instead of a single artistic director, all five founders comprise Red Turnip's artistic council. While working procedures are fluid, the current system rotates each member as a production manager and/or director.

Defiance, also, in the places they are choosing to stage their works. Away from the usual proscenium theaters, Red Turnip will debut at Whitespace, an events gallery/warehouse in Makati that will be transformed into a 400-seater performance venue.

Select shows will have showtimes starting at 9 p.m., unlike the usual 8 p.m. that's standard in the industry.

"Closer" will have 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.

"Closer" runs Oct. 4 to 27 at Whitespace, 2314 Don Chino Roces Ave. (formerly Pasong Tamo Ext.), Makati City. Contact 0908-8829750. Tickets also will soon be available through Ticketworld at 8919999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph.

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CCP's retrospective tribute for Nat'l Artist for Theater Design ‘Badong’ Bernal

CCP mounts retrospective tribute for National Artist for Theater Design ‘Badong’ Bernal
By Walter Ang
July 15, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Salvador "Badong" Bernal
National Artist for Theater Design Salvador "Badong" Bernal will be honored with a retrospective exhibition highlighting his various design projects in theater, ballet, opera, and film.

Organized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, "Badong: Salvador Bernal Designs the Stage" will occupy three galleries: Bulwagang Juan Luna, Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino and Pasilyo Juan Luna.

"Acknowledged as the Father of Theater Design in the Philippines, Bernal was instrumental in elevating theater and production design as a fine art and a profession in the country," says project coordinator Ricardo Cruz, head of the CCP Production Design and Technical Services Division.

Bernal began designing professionally in 1969 and was involved in more than 300 productions until he passed away in 2011. He was conferred the National Artist Award in 2003.

Bernal headed CCP's Performing Arts Department from 1981 to 1994 and helped establish the Production Design Center, a three-story building inaugurated in 1993 that houses facilities to construct and fabricate large-scale set design pieces and to execute and store costumes.

Bernal also initiated the founding of the Kapisanan sa Pilipinas ng mga Production Designer, which later became the Philippine Association of Theater Designers and Technicians.

Exhibition highlights
Bernal's set and costume designs for "Realizing Rama."
The main exhibit features scale models, costumes, and digital images of Bernal's many projects, mostly for Ballet Philippines and Tanghalang Pilipino, both resident performing companies of CCP where he was resident designer.

Sketches and detailed drawings of sets and costume design give an insight into his process. A timeline exhibit highlights his personal and professional life and includes a comprehensive listing of his various projects.

Cruz trained under Bernal and assisted him in many projects from the 1980s to the 1990s. Since taking over the post of Bernal, Cruz has continued Bernal's advocacy to promote and professionalize theater design practice.

The exhibition is curated by Nicanor Tiongson and Gino Gonzales, both close friends and collaborators of Bernal.

Tiongson is a former CCP Artistic Director and has authored a book on Bernal, "Salvador F. Bernal: Designing the Stage."

Gonzales was a student and apprentice of Bernal, who encouraged him to pursue his Master in Fine Arts in Theater Design at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. Gonzales has since designed sets and costumes for productions in Manila, Singapore, Japan and New York.

"Badong: Salvador Bernal Designs the Stage" runs July 19-Oct 27, 2013, Tues-Sun, 10 am to 6 pm. Contact 832-1125 loc 1504/1505 or 8323702. Guided group tours available, contact 832-1125 loc. 1804.

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Campus theater groups' 2013-2014 season line-ups

Campus theater groups' 2013-2014 season line-ups
Each group has one production adapted from a book this season
By Walter Ang
July 13, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Scene from "The Sky Over Dimas."
Harlequin Theatre Guild of De La Salle University-Manila opens its 47th season with "DuLa Salle," its annual festival of plays.

This year's installment will feature short stories written by members of De La Salle University's Writer's Guild. The stories will focus on "lives of the ordinary workers in the university, paying tribute to the nameless faces and the unsung stories of campus heroes."

"DuLa Salle" runs Aug. 8-10 at William Shaw Little Theater.

In November, the group restages "The Sky Over Dimas," adapted by Tim Dacanay from the Manila Critics Circle National Book Award-winning novel by Vicente Groyon.

The story of Rafael Torrecarion's return to Hacidena Dimas and his encounter with the "web of long-buried secrets that preserve and threaten the foundations of his family" had its world premiere earlier this year in HTG's previous season, directed by HTG artistic director Raffy Tejada.

HTG will conclude its season in March 2014 with "Birdcage," a Filipino translation by Nonon Carandang of Jean Poiret's "La Cage aux Folles."

The manager of a nightclub and the flamboyant star attraction of his bar attempt to tone down for the parents of their son's fiancé, resulting in mix-ups and comedic chaos.

Both "Sky Over Dimas" and "Birdcage" will be staged in the school's Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium.

Contact Harlequin Theatre Guild at 5244611 loc. 702 and 737 or harlequintheatreguild@gmail.com.

Ateneo Enterteyment para sa Tao, Bayan, Lansangan at Diyos (Entablado) of Ateneo De Manila University opened its 31st season, dubbed "Personalan Na!," in May with Chris Millado's "Buwan at Baril" to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Benigno Aquino Jr.'s assassination (which falls on Aug. 21).

Directed by AE artistic director Jethro Tenorio, the play tackled life during the Marcos dictatorship through eight different characters from various classes and regions. The play was also staged partly as a homage to Entablado's roots in that the play traces the beginnings of the country's protest and street theater.

Come August, the group will stage Dennis Marasigan's "Ang Buhay ay Pelikula," to be directed by Tenorio. In the play, a film producer has to choose between film aesthetics and practicality. "The play seeks to define which truly the better choice is, the value of what a real film should be and the consequences on the relationships of all those involved in its production," he says.

In November, Jesus Ignacio directs "Filemon Mamon," adapated from Christine Bellen's children's book. Filemon loves to act and eat. He auditions for a role but is deemed too fat for it. Audiences will see how Filemon deals with situation in a positive manner.

Their season concludes in January 2014 with Malou Jacob's "Juan Tamban," to be directed by Ron Capinding. Inspired from newspaper reports of a boy who ate cockroaches and lizards, the play delves into how a masteral student attempts to study Juan Tamban's strange diet as part of her academic requirements.

Contact Ateneo Entablado at 09159479061or ateneoentablado@yahoo.com.

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Violence via movement in Tanghalang Ateneo’s ‘Ang Oresteyas’

Violence via movement in Tanghalang Ateneo’s ‘Ang Oresteyas’
By Walter Ang
July 6, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The cast doing movement exercises
under Myra Beltran’s guidance.
Tanghalang Ateneo opens its 2013-2014 season with “Ang Oresteyas,” BJ Crisostomo’s Tagalog translation and adaptation of ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus’ trilogy “The Oresteia.”

Dubbed “Reimagining the Greeks,” TA’s 35th season will showcase contemporary approaches to ancient Greek drama.

The production combines all three plays (“Agamemnon,” “The Libation Bearers” and “The Eumenides”), focusing on Orestes’ killing of his mother Klytemnestra as an act of revenge for her murder of his father Agamemnon. Orestes is brought to trial and the audience forms part of the jury.

Crisostomo uses his translator’s conceit in employing the English language convention of adding an “s” to pluralize nouns for his Tagalog adaptation title.

“It sums up the way I see the original trilogy,” he says. “It has three stories but all of them have the same structure. The trilogy has different characters but it still goes back to the same problem/issue and structure.”

Nicolo Magno and Paul Jake Paule alternate as Orestes while Frances Makil-Ignacio and Lesley Leveriza-Lina alternate as Klytemnestra. Orestes’ sister Elektra will be played alternately by Delphine Buencamino and Miela Sayo.

The staging will be movement-centric, co-directed by TA advisor Ricky Abad and Dance Forum artistic director Myra Beltran.

“How does one render violent acts onstage? A wife killing a husband, son killing the mother. [This family] has a history of a cycle of violence,” Beltran says. “We have chosen to render this in a more abstract manner, hence, a more choreographic sensibility for ‘Ang Oresteyas.’”

No influence
Coincidentally, Beltran won third place in the 2009 Clytemnestra ReMash Challenge organized by the Martha Graham Dance Company. The worldwide competition tasked contestants to recreate any of five solos featured in Graham’s 1958 masterwork “Clytemnestra.”

She and Ballet Philippines artistic director Paul Morales submitted a black-and-white entry titled “Clytemnestra-Manila ’58,” with Beltran as dancer and Morales as director and editor.

“The work I did for that video competition has no influence at all in this staging. That video was more about understanding Graham’s choreography vocabulary. Graham’s work enters the discussion because one has to be aware of the versions of ‘The Oresteia,’ how it has been staged by others. But I have not seen the entire Graham work, so it doesn’t have much of an influence.”

Contemporary dance
Beltran is known for her work in contemporary dance—as dancer, choreographer, teacher and advocate. Nonetheless, she said: “I don’t box myself ‘only’ as a choreographer of contemporary dance. I think people do not understand contemporary dance because they do not experience it a lot or there are not many contemporary dance performances.

“If there were, people could discern if a work was successful in its intention or not, instead of just concluding that they do not understand contemporary dance, in and of itself. Each work defines what contemporary dance is, that is the nature of contemporaneity.

“What characterizes the contemporary thought is a certain aversion to or suspicion of rigid structures, an inclination to inquiry and research, a porousness of boundaries. So what is important to me in ‘Ang Oresteyas’ is how I would give the work a choreographic sensibility, even if it is not identifiable as dance or contemporary dance.”

Teresa Barrozo handles sound design and original compositions while Jonjon Villareal handles lighting design. Gino Gonzales supervises set and costume design by Charles Yee and Chelsea Ong, respectively.

“Ang Oresteyas” runs July 11 to 27 at Rizal Mini Theater, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. Contact Tanghalang Ateneo at +63917-6309097 or tanghalangateneo@gmail.com.

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Free Japanese film festival includes anime

Free Japanese film festival includes anime
By Walter Ang
July 3, 2013

Scene from "Rinco's Restaurant"
This year's Eiga Sai (Japanese Film Festival) kicks off on July 4 and lasts a whole month. It begins in Metro Manila, will tour Davao and Cebu, then concludes in Quezon City.

All films are free admission on a first come, first served basis and will be shown with English subtitles. Screening venues are at the Shang Cineplex Cinema 2, Mandaluyong City (July 4 to 14); Abreeza Mall and FDCP Cinematheque, Davao City (July 19 to 28); Ayala Center Cinema 4, Cebu City (August 7 to 11); and UP Film Institute, Quezon City (August 19 to 25).

Now on its 15th year, Eiga Sai (literally "film fest") is organized by the Japan Foundation-Manila Office. The film fest is part of the celebration of Philippines-Japan Friendship Month in July. It also celebrates the 40th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, with the theme "ASEAN-Japan Partnership: Thoughts Connected-Future Connected."

In addition to a sundry selection from modern mysteries to ninja escapades?covering comedy, suspense, action and drama?this year's festival features three anime films instead of just the usual one.

"Japan, Our homeland" is set in the late 1950s, as Japan recovers from the ravages of World War II. Three boys decide to join a singing competition, inspired by their new female music teacher and a new girl classmate. Find out what happens when they're forced to withdraw from the competition.

"Mai Mai Miracle" is an adaptation of the autobiographical novel of the same title by Takagi Nobuko. In Hofu City, third grader Shinko befriends a new girl in town, Kiiko, who has moved from Tokyo.

In "Brave Story," with prodding from his new classmate Mitsuru, Wataru enters the world of Vision and becomes a "traveler," humans on a quest to find five gemstones so they may have their wish granted by the Goddess in the Tower of Destiny. Will he use his wish to save his sick mother or establish peace in Vision?

The movie is adapted from a novel and the story has been adapted into three video games for Sony's Playstation Portable, Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2.

A dog, food, neighbors
Dogs and food are usually crowd pleasing subject matter for movies, and this year's filmfest hast both.

In, "Wanko-The Story of Me, My Family and My Dog," Shin loses his pet dog Rock during a volcano eruption. When he finds Rock again, he has to figure out the circumstances that still keep them apart.

"Rinco's Restaurant" details how Rinco, in an attempt to heal her heartbreak, converts a guest house into a restaurant where she serves only one pair of guests a day with carefully cooked
meals. Soon word spreads that "dining there will bring you happiness."

This year's Eiga Sai will also feature the complete trilogy of "Always Sunset on Third Street." The trilogy showcases the interweaving stories of neighbors set in 1958 during the construction of Tokyo Tower, then four months later as the Tokyo Olympics are ongoing, and finally in 1964 when the bullet train had just been inaugurated.

The comedy-drama series has been lauded for its production design and visual effects recreations of the time periods it is set in.

From wistful nostalgia to hopeful reality, Eiga Sai will also feature two documentaries that follow the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami that struck Japan and how communities have been providing inspiration and overcoming the challenges of rebuilding.

Complete line-up of films and screening schedule at jfmo.org.ph. Contact 8116155 to 58.

Playwright Floy Quintos dominates campus theater this season

Playwright Floy Quintos dominates campus theater this season
By Walter Ang
June 29, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Floy Quintos
Prolific playwright Floy Quintos will premiere three new works this season via campus theater groups Tanghalang Ateneo and Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas in their productions for schoolyear 2013-2014.

Dubbed "Reimagining the Greeks," Tanghalang Ateneo's (Ateneo de Manila University) 35th season will showcase contemporary approaches to ancient Greek drama.

It opens in July with "Ang Oresteyas," BJ Crisostomo's Tagalog translation and adaptation of Aeschylus' trilogy "The Oresteia."

The production combines all three plays ("Agamemnon," "The Libation Bearers," and "The Eumenides"), focusing on Orestes' killing of his mother Klytemnestra as an act of revenge for her murder of his father Agamemnon. Orestes is brought to trial and the audience forms part of the jury.

The staging will be movement-centric with choreography by Dance Forum artistic director Myra Beltran. TA advisor Ricky Abad directs. Gino Gonzales handles set and costume design.

"Ang Oresteyas" runs July 11-27 at Rizal Mini Theater.

From Sept. 5-21, TA will stage Euripides' "The Bacchae," where the god Dionysus, insulted at the people's failure to honor him properly, organizes a group of libertines to attack the city and restore his royal and divine place.

To be directed by Sipat Lawin Ensemble artistic director JK Anicoche, the show will employ an all-student cast that will devise a Filipino translation.

Leeroy New will handle set and costume design. "Ang Bacchae" will be staged at Fine Arts Black Box Studio.

Death and love
Loy Arcenas will direct Sarah Ruhl's "Eurydice." Arcenas plans to devise a Filipino translation in collaboration with his cast and playwright Guelan Luarca (who will be the production's dramaturg).

The love story of Eurydice and Orpheus unfolds as Orpheus goes on a quest to reclaim Eurydice from the underworld.  Unlike the myths, Ruhl adds a father for Eurydice, creating a dilemma for her, whether to stay with him in the underworld or to go with Orpheus.

Arcenas also handles set and costume design. "Eurydice" runs Nov. 14-30 at Fine Arts Black Box Studio.

Hubris and redemption
The season finale, "Antigone's Rex, a play with songs" in February 2014 adapts Sophocles' tragedies "Oedipus Rex" and "Antigone."

Written by Quintos with lyrics and music by Ceejay Javier, Antigone redeems the shame of her father Oedipus' banishment from their city by defying King Creon's orders that deny her brother Polynices a proper burial.

Abad directs, Gonzales designs set and costumes. "Antigone's Rex" runs Feb. 12-25 at Rizal Mini-Theater.

Rizal Mini Theater and Fine Arts Black Box Studio are located inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Quezon City. Contact Tanghalang Ateneo at +639176309097 or tanghalangateneo@gmail.com.

Dubbed "Celebrating Epic!," Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (University of the Philippines) opens its 38th season in July with "Adarna."

Jose Estrella directs the classic tale of Don Juan's search for the mythical Ibong Adarna that can cure any sickness with its song.

An adaptation of "Corrido at Buhay na Pinagdaanan nang Tatlóng Principeng anak nang Haring Fernando at nang Reina Valeriana sa Cahariang Berbania" ("Corrido and Life Lived by the Three Princes, children of King Fernando and Queen Valeriana in the Kingdom of Berbania"), the production will use the version by Antonio Buenaventura and Vitaliana Pineda with additional text by Vladimeir Gonzales.

Costume design by Brenda Fajardo, puppet design by Don Salubayba, and set and lighting design by Lex Marcos.

"Adarna" runs July 17-Aug. 1. Weekday matinee shows can be booked in advance.

From Sept. 11-29, the group will stage John Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi" and its Tagalog translation "Ang Dukesa ng Malfi" by Allan Palileo.

DUP founding artistic director Tony Mabesa directs the tale of how Giovanna d'Aragona marries below her status and incites the anger of her brothers, resulting in schemes and murder.

From Nov. 20-Dec. 8, in commemoration of Andres Bonifacio's birth sesquicentennial, the group will stage Quintos' "Bonifacio Through The Eyes Of The Literati" to be directed by DUP artistic director Alexander Cortez.

The production will use excerpts of plays written about Bonifacio by playwrights such as Amelia Lapena Bonifacio, Rene Villanueva, Domingo Landicho, Joi Barrios, Butch Dalisay, and Adrian Cristobal.

The group concludes its season in 2014 with "Ang Nawalang Kapatid," Quintos' adaptation of ancient India's longest Sanskrit epic "Mahabharata."

Dexter Santos will direct the fragment dealing with the births of the Kauravas (children of King Dhritarashtra) and the Pandava (children of King Pandu) and their eventual war that arose from the claims of Duryodhana (the youngest Kaurava) and Yudhisthira (the eldest Pandava) to the throne of Hastinapura.

All productions will be staged at Wilfrido Guerrero Theater, Palma Hall, University of the Philippines, Quezon City. Contact Dulaang UP at 9261349, 9818500 loc. 2449 or 4337840.

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