Clint Ramos wins 2016 Tony award for costume design

Clint Ramos wins 2016 Tony award for costume design
June 13, 2016 (breaking)
June 14, 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer (page one)

Clint Ramos
New York-based set and costume designer Clint Ramos won the 2016 Tony Award for costume design of a play for "Eclipsed," featuring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o ("12 Years a Slave," "Star Wars," "The Jungle Book").

"I just want to say thank you to everybody, to a group of women who are unbelievable," he said in his acceptance speech, referring to the playwright, director and cast of the play, who are all women. Part of his speech was included in the broadcast of the ceremonies held at Beacon Theater in New York.

In an e-mail message to the Inquirer after receiving the Tony Award, he said: "So grateful and thankful, especially for the support back home from everyone in the Philippines. Thank you!"

Ramos' work has been described by critics as "meticulously detailed" (Variety), "evocative" (Hollywood Reporter), "[takes] much research, labor, and talent to pull off," ( and "essential" (

In an Instagram post, Ramos wrote that the nomination means, "Work like this is valid. That design dealing with contemporary themes is worthy of rewarding. That powerful, modern costumes are just as complex as the pretty period ones."

The play is about five women during the second Liberian Civil War, written by Danai Gurira and directed by Liesl Tommy.

Photo by Joan Marcus; from
Ramos' costumes combined traditional African fabrics like lapa, woven cotton cloth with colorful patterns, and T-shirts emblazoned with American pop-culture images, such as a shirt with Rugrats cartoon characters for Nyong'o (to show that Liberia is a repository for American discards). Some characters were given brand-name footwear to show status.

He researched photographs of the war and sourced shirts and fabrics in vintage clothing shops and African merchandise stores in New York.

Copies of ready-to-wear tops and bottoms that were chosen for the production were recreated from scratch: shirts were silkscreened and jeans were tailored to accommodate being used multiple shows a week and for different cast members.

The costumes were then distressed, treated with dyes to mimic sweat or blood stains that could not be washed off when the costumes were laundered.

Cebu to New York
From Lupita Nyong'o Facebook page.
Born and raised in Cebu, Ramos took up theater arts at the University of the Philippines, doing design work for Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, then a Master of Fine Arts in Design for Stage and Film at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts on a full scholarship.

He has since designed costumes and sets for over a hundred productions in New York, across the US and internationally.

Ramos' most recent costume design work is for "Frozen: Live at the Hyperion," a musical based on Disney's animated film showing at Disney California Adventure Park. (A separate Broadway production of "Frozen" with a different artistic team is scheduled to open in 2018.)

Other credits include costume designs for the Broadway production of "The Elephant Man" featuring Bradley Cooper and the Off-Broadway staging of "Here Lies Love." Both these productions were also staged on the West End.

"Here Lies Love," a musical about Imelda Marcos, will be staged by American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco next year.

Ramos is multi-awarded, previously receiving the 2013 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Costume Design, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts' 2014 Ani ng Dangal Award for Dramatic Arts, and the 2014 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Costume Design for his work on "Here Lies Love," among others.

For productions in Manila, he's designed the sets of Tanghalang Pilipino's "Mga Gerilya sa Powell Street" and DUP's "Mary Stuart/Maria Stuarda," "The Duchess of Malfi/Ang Dukesa ng Malfi" and "The Country Wife/Ang Misis Kong Promdi."

Other Filipino awardees
Photo by Joan Marcus; from
Lea Salonga won the 1991 Best Actress in a Musical for playing the titular character in "Miss Saigon."

Investors to Broadway productions receive awards along with lead producers if productions win Best Play or Musical. As an investing producer with business partner Joan Raffe, Iloilo-born Jhett Tolentino has received Tonys for Best Revival of a Play for "A Raisin in the Sun" and Best Musical for "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," both 2014, and Best Play for "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," 2013.

Composer Robert Lopez, winner of the 2004 Best Original Score award for "Avenue Q," is of partial Filipino descent; his paternal grandfather is Filipino and his paternal grandmother is Filipino-Scottish American.

The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre honors theater professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway. It was founded by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, after whose cofounder the award is named after.

Youtube video of Clint Ramos' statement backstage.


"Eclipsed" runs until June 19 at Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th St. (between Broadway and 8th Ave.), New York, New York. Visit

"Frozen: Live at the Hyperion," runs at Hyperion Theater, Disney California Adventure Park, Anaheim, California. Visit links:
June 13, 2016 (breaking; online only)

June 14, 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer (front page; print and online; slightly different version)

From Twin Bill Theater, a dark comedy on suicide

From Twin Bill Theater, a dark comedy on suicide
June 11, 2016
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Twin Bill Theater (TBT) is staging "Suicide, Incorporated," a dark comedy written by Andrew Hinderaker about a company that writes suicide letters for its clients, beginning July 15 at Performing Arts and Recreation Center in San Juan City.

The group is tackling the morbid subject matter not just because it is challenging "the taboo that is attached to suicide in the Philippines", but also to allow audiences to explore the related topics that surround it.

And if there are doubts about the macabre premise, the DC Metro Theater Arts website's review of the play states, "It's often quite hilarious, and the farther we get in the process the more the humor starts to shine."

"Beyond suicide, the play is ultimately about redemption and restoration," says director Steven Conde.

The cast features Hans Eckstein, Jeremy Domingo, George Schulze, Mako Alonso, Bibo Reyes and Chino Veguillas, with lighting design by Joseph Matheu and set design by Ed Lacson Jr.

This is the second production in TBT's current season to deal with suicide. Its staging of "Dog Sees God" a few months ago also had a character who commits suicide.

"Twin Bill's theme for the year focuses on the power of redemption," explains Conde. "This is what's similar between both plays. Both plays deal with suicide in different ways but both talk about hope and restoration.

"'Suicide, Incorporated' has a strong message: that taboo topics such as mental health, much like any other life condition, must be talked about, understood and dealt with head on."

In a Facebook post, Conde wrote, "I grew up with the notion that going to a psychiatrist for help meant you were crazy. And that being crazy is bad and needed to be kept secret from others. Thank God that I have met people who have opened my eyes to the less popular opinion that seeking help from a mental health professional is not a bad thing."

Audiences are welcome to join the guided discussions after each show with invited experts such as psychiatrists.

There are plans to tour the production. Twin Bill Theater is accepting inquiries and bookings from colleges and other organizations that would like to host shows.

"Suicide, Incorporated" runs July 15-31 at Performing Arts and Recreation Center, 494 Lt. Artiaga St., San Juan City (access through Bonny Serrano Ave., formerly Santolan Rd., or through N. Domingo St.). Contact 0927-4604652, 0916-7759374 or Ticketworld at 8919999 or Visit

If you are or know of anyone in emotional crisis and in need of immediate assistance, contact Hopeline, available 24/7, at 8044673 or 0917-5584673 or approach any healthcare professional. (Hopeline is operated by the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation.) link:

Some like it short and small: Artist Playground stages intimate plays

Some like it short and small: Artist Playground stages intimate plays
June 4, 2016
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Tomas Miranda and Ruth Alferez.
Photo by Nicholas Nolasco.
At a club in Tokyo, Mari, the wife of a billionaire, becomes attached to Kenji, a gigolo who has a pearl stitched under the skin of his genitalia. However, Kenji is falling for Maria, a japayuki from the Philippines.

The play "Happiness is a Pearl," written by Rody Vera, opens Artist Playground's (AP) 2016-17 season.

Artistic director Roeder Camañag says, "Last year, while brainstorming our season lineup, Rody mentioned this play that he wrote years ago. I found the story unusual, and it fits with our thrust to stage one-acts."

Real-life premise
Vera got the idea for the story by way of Singapore when he was there collaborating with Japanese group Black Tent Theatre. One of his co-actors had shared a story with him about the wife of one of the richest mochi magnates in Tokyo and her affair with a gigolo. Vera was able to build a fictional story on that premise, transforming it into a love triangle.

"It has never been staged before; we will premiere it," says Camañag.

Directing the play is Paul Jake Paule, whose recent acting credits include "Mga Kuneho" and "Balunbalunan, Bingibingihan" for Virgin Labfest, "Ang Oresteyas" for Tanghalang Ateneo, and "The Pillowman" for Egg Theater Company.

Mari will be played by Ruth Alferez, who has performed with Tanghalang Pilipino, Philippine Educational Theater Association and Repertory Philippines, among other groups.

Film actor Tomas Miranda ("Dayang Asu," "Kapatiran," "Ned's Project") will play Kenji.

The rest of the cast will be filled by members of The Players, the company's pool of resident actors. Cath Go alternates as Mari, Jerome Rosalin alternates as Kenji, while Shiela Espina and Ira Ruzz alternate as Maria.

The set and costume design is by Reynoso Mercado, choreography by Lezlie Dailisan, sound design by Sharon Perlas, lighting design by Joseph Navarro. Musicians Melvin Sumalinog and Erick Jonathan Sumalinog will play guitar.

Quiet launch
AP was founded last year, evolving from a summer acting workshop that Camañag and his cohorts had organized.

AP's officers include Paule, composer Jesse Lucas, actor/director Jeffrey Camañag, visual artist Nasser Lubay and talent manager/publicist Ricky Gallardo.

The group quietly mounted its inaugural season last year, featuring "Riddle of the Sphinx," Jim Bergado's Filipino translation of Leoncio Deriada's play; followed by "Tag-Ani" by Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio and "Audire," an experimental one-woman show featuring Mailes Kanapi.

For its second season (2016-17), AP will focus on one-act plays. "We want our audiences to have a different theater experience," Camañag says.

"We want to introduce the idea that you can watch a play that won't eat up too much of your time and won't cost too much. Kind of like, say, for the same time and amount of money if you went out for an iced coffee, you can experience a play."

Camañag also points out that their venue, 1701 The Little Room Upstairs, is an intimate space that seats only 30. All the more to allow audiences to immerse in the worlds their company creates for audiences.

Its location near the corner of Timog Avenue provides audiences with various choices of restaurants, bars, beauty salons and spas to go to before or after AP shows.

The second play for this season will be Dan Hollanda's "Lagablab," a play loosely based on British writer W. Somerset Maugham's short story "The Unconquered." In it, Japanese general Hirohito rapes then falls in love with Chayong, a Filipina who despises him. Paule will direct as well.

Also planned for the season is Dennis Teodosio's "Geegee at Waterina," a fictionalized conversation between two characters based on Justo Justo, founder of the Home For The Golden Gays, and Walter Dempsey Jr., more popularly known as Walterina Markova, a sex slave during the Philippines' Japanese occupation. Camañag is slated to play Waterina.

"Happiness is a Pearl" runs June 9 to July 3 at 1701 The Little Room Upstairs, Unit 1701, Landsdale Tower, 86 Mother Ignacia Ave., Quezon City. Contact 0926-9323179. Visit link: