Designing LA REVOLUCION FILIPINA and ELIAS
Experiencing the Scenographic Space
by Mio Infante
Republished with permission of the copyright owner
Manila, Philippines--LA REVOLUCION FILIPINA, one of Ballet Philippines' landmark productions, returns to the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (main theater) from Friday, July 25, to Sunday, July 27, to kick off the ballet company's 45th season, and to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Philippine revolutionary hero Apolinario Mabini.
Setting the Scene
In developing a scenic design for dance/physical theater, I took into consideration the choreographic grammar of the author. Agnes Locsin's robust and earthy movements were the key starting points to the scenographic journey.
When the curtain rises, the spectator sees the setting. It should locate the narrative in a specific time and space and provide for the action to take place.
For LA REVOLUCION FILIPINA [which had its world premiere in 1997], the rural countryside of Central Luzon is juxtaposed with the angularity and sharp lines of the pen (as the primary instrument representing the protagonist). A multi-leveled ramp not only alluded to internal conflicts within the three lead characters, but also the struggle for power within the revolutionary top brasses. Aptly, the words of the text/document become the background for events to unfold. A rereading (or rewriting) of history then occurs.
In ELIAS [which had its world premiere in 1995], it was when he had become delirious because of a gunshot wound. The huge balete tree on the bank of the River Pasig became the stage on which the ghosts of Elias' past revisit him. The powerful image of a hanged man greets the scene. Internal conflict within the character is amplified by the scenographic environment. Bloody red and seemingly covered in varicose veins, the tree seems to have grown out of proportions and overpowers its surroundings. I incorporated these images of concrete slabs being unearthed by the roots. The stability of something solid and grounded, rocked by inevitable forces of nature.