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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

The Virgin Blossoms at 19

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In Virgin Labfest, the actions behind the stage curtain are as fascinating as what is happening on the stage. Behind-the-scene stories are so palatable with no  sawafactor; you can savor each with gusto. 

A random chit chat with the playwrights, actors, directors, and/or production staff, you’ll get intellectual conversations and discussions, as well as gossip, intrigues, and juicy details. There were so many BTS stories in the theater of untried, untested and unstaged one-act plays that you could possibly come up with a book (probably with a sequel). 

In one of our random encounters with production manager Nikki Torres, who handled VLF for 12 years, she shared some interesting facts that even the most ardent fan of the festival might not know or have forgotten. 

Do you know who the oldest playwright to join VLF is?

It was the late National Artist  F. Sionil Jose. He was 81 when he submitted his play  Dong-Ao, which was featured in VLF 2008. Dong-Ao, which means a traditional Ilokano funeral ceremony where relatives and friends pay tribute to the deceased, was set during the funeral of  Pepe Samson, one of the lead characters in his  Rosales Saga  novels. As people pay respect, the divergent views of the play’s characters depict a fragmented nation, teetering between complete collapse and newfound hope and direction.

And, who is the youngest? Reya Laplana  was only 15 years old when her first play, Sa Lilim, was performed in VLF 2014. 

Do you remember who were the featured playwrights who kicked off the first ever run of VLF in 2005? Let’s refresh your memory. 

Andrew Estacio looks into the mystery of folk song ‘Jocelynang Baliwag’ in his play ‘Ang Awit ng Dalagang Marmol’

VLF’s debut run showcased works by  Allan Lopez  who submitted his 2004 Palanca Award-winning play Anatomiya ng  Pag-ibig; the late  Elmar Ingles  who wrote  Serbis; Debbie Ann Tan entered Fate’s Line; VLF Writing Fellowship Workshop mentor  Glenn Mas Sevilla  with his  Rite of Passage;  J. Dennis Teodosio  whose play  Gee Gee at Waterina  later turned into a short film;  Vincent de Jesus  sent his  Ateng;  Eugene Evasco  and  Chris Martinez  who co-wrote  Ars Poetica; and  Lani Montreal  and her  Sister-Out-Law.

And while most of the featured plays are either performed in Filipino and/or English, there were six VLF plays written in regional languages –  Rite of Passage  (Kinaray-a),  Pagsubli  by  Aizel Cabili  (Iloko),  Chipline  by  Dominique La Victoria  (Cebuano),  Bata Sa Drum  by  Dominique La Victoria  (Cebuano),  Ang Mga Puyong  by  Ryan Machado  (O Han), and  Ang Sugilanon ng Kabiguan ni Epefanio  by  May Cardoso  (Cebuano).

There are 11 VLF plays that have been adapted from the page to the stage.  They are:  First Snow of November  by  Alvin Dacanay, based on  The Day the Dancers Came  by  Bienvenido N. Santos;  Suor Clara  by the late  Floy Quintos,  inspired by Dr.  Jose Rizal’s famous novel  Noli Me Tangere;  Hindi Ako Si Darna  by  Maynard Manansala  and  U Eliserio Andoy Ranay, inspired by the characters of  Mars Ravelo’s  Darna;  Rite of Passage, adapted from  Ma. Milagros Geremia Lachica’s Kinaray-a short story;  Pragress  by  Dulaang Sipat Lawin, differently spelled out from F. Sionil Jose’s  Progress;  Ang Bertday ni Guido  by  Rene Villanueva, based on an unspecified story for children;  Three Sisters: A Noh Play  by  Yoji Sakate, inspired by  Anton Chekov’s play  Three Sisters. 

Other plays inspired by literary works include:  Bru-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, Bru-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi  by  Argel Tuazon, an adaptation of a children’s short story by  Ma. Corazon Remigio;  Uuwi Na ang Nanay Kong si Darna  by  Job Pagsibigan, based on  Edgar Samar’s short story for children;  Jose’s Dong-Ao, a sequel of sort to his novel  Mass;  Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala  by  Eljay Castro Deldoc, was inspired by  Kite of Stars  by  Dean Francis Alfar; and  Lumbay ng Dila  by  Genevieve L. Asenjo, loosely based on her and her co-writer’s work  Ang Nanay Kong Ex-NPA. 

‘Dominador Gonzales’ by Dingdong Novenario explores the story of Oliver as he visits his former mentor and lover who is set to receive a National Artist status

With the success of VLF through the years, some of its featured plays have graced the big screen:  Hubad  by  Liza Magtoto  and  Rody Vera;  Paigan  by Magtoto (screened as  David F, directed by  Emmanuel Q. Palo);  Imbisibol  by  Herlyn Alegre;  Changing Partners  by  Vincent de Jesus; and  Séance  by  Oggie Arcenas. 

Continuing the success of VLF,  Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady  by  Carlo Vergara  even became a musical which ran back in 2015.

Do you know that there are 29 main features and five staged readings which won the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, one of the most prestigious literary awards given to any Filipino writer? 

This year, the Virgin Labfest has planted the seeds for a bountiful harvest with works coming to full bloom, ready to burst (pintog) onstage. Creating a safe environment, the festival remains a platform for unique storytelling and a venue for playwrights, directors, theater practitioners, and stage managers to hone their artistic and creative talents and skills. 

‘Room 209’ by Zheg Arban dives into the story of Cadet 4th Class Anghelo Perez as he enters the Philippine Military Academy

Co-produced by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Tanghalang Pilipino Foundation Inc. and The Writer’s Bloc, VLF 19: Pintog features 12 new plays and 3 revisited plays, with narratives dealing with the complex layers of human experience. 

VLF 19: Pintog  runs from June 12 to 30,   at the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (CCP Blackbox Theater). 

For more details on the schedule and ticket prices, visit the official social media accounts of CCP, Tanghalang Pilipino, and Writers’ Bloc on Facebook, X, Instagram, and TikTok.

(With report by  Lia de Jesus)


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