Reflection: A Look Back at Philippine Theater in 2015

Reflection: A Look Back at Philippine Theater in 2015 By Jared Echevarria

Manila, Philippines--In a time when the Philippines is proving its economic and cultural prowess on the global stage, theater seems to be a good medium to mirror not only the varied tastes of its society but also to develop the level of maturity of art appreciation among its people.

Theater is not a new thing in the Philippines; in fact, it has been part of its great "cultural menu" that nourished the nation and carved her becoming. It is, therefore, a part of every Filipino's life every once in a while.

With the growing awareness of theater in the country, brought about by the successes of Filipino thespians here and abroad, the nation is clamoring for more and more productions, where theater companies exhibit their homegrown talents and creative minds. When it comes to producing theater, Filipinos do not favor quantity over quality; that's why some shows only play for a week or a weekend.

The Philippines, especially Manila, is not considered Asia's theater capital yet, but we can easily say that we're gearing towards that global recognition. 2015 was a great year because theatrical productions were brought closer to a lot more people--the antithesis that theater only caters to a niche audience. The productions in the past year reached varied audiences with themes that touched various sensitive topics and controversies; these productions proved to be not only a form of entertainment but also a receptacle of personal reflections for some audiences saw things in a way that the others did not.

"Abundance" best describes the theater scene in 2015, in which varied selections of productions have been presented and even restaged because of popular demand. Below are a just a handful of previous productions that proved the point that theater in the Philippines now caters to all generations, varied sectors of the society and interests.

  • Reflection: A Look Back at Philippine Theater in 2015 Third Person Collective's "Peratedes," a stage adaption of Federico Lorca's "La Casa de Bernarda Alba," directed by Harry David, was a reflection of a Filipino family with all its secrets, sensitivities, and sacrednesses. This production did not come short and even went further in exposing the good and the bad in a Filipino household. In fact, it didn't end there: it provided a solution that was left for the audiences to fathom.

  • Egg Theater Company's "Maniacal," a stage adaptation of Moliere's "Les Femmes Savantes," directed by George de Jesus, was a satire of the theater industry in Manila. It was a fascinating material that explored the industry through relatable references and powerful dialogues.

  • The Necessary Theater by Actor's Actors Inc.'s "The Normal Heart," directed by Bart Guingona, tackled a sensitive topic with the guidance of a great and pulsating script, which literally informed the audiences of an ongoing war against HIV and AIDS epidemic.

  • Red Turnip Theater's small but sleek production of "This is Our Youth," directed by Topper Fabregas, was a fitting tribute to a decade of social uneasiness and confusion. The lines in the play were all powerful but not vulgar.

  • The international touring production of "Singin' in The Rain," inspired by the 1952 movie that starred Gene Kelly, was a hit not only among older audiences but also the millennials. The production brought back the most unforgettable songs from the movie, which were likewise nostalgic and praiseworthy.

  • Reflection: A Look Back at Philippine Theater in 2015Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group's (ATEG) "The Bridges of Madison County," directed by Bobby Garcia, was the first international production of the Tony Award-winning musical. Though not considered a classic yet, the songs and its immortal story cemented rave reviews for the production. The direction and stage design were subtle, yet effective.

  • Triumphant People's Evangelistic Society's (Trumpets) "A Horse and His Boy," a stage adaptation of the well-loved C.S. Lewis classic, brought back the audiences to the world of Narnia with all its mysteries and splendors. The children in the audience surely loved the show; the adults in the audience, on the other hand, appreciated every single line in its script and its hauntingly beautiful musical score.

  • The international touring production of "Cookin' Nanta," a Korean non-verbal musical, was a treat to the audiences. The upbeat and funny antics of the actors onstage drummed up their way through as one of the most entertaining productions in 2015.

  • Repertory Philippines' "The Secret Garden" brought to life a classic story of friendship and family, which taught invaluable life lessons still applicable in the present day.

  • The international touring production of "La Soiree," a cabaret-variety show, also had its share of amusing the audiences and making others burst into laughter. It was a show that ensured that no one in the theatre would be left unsatisfied.

2015 was a kind year to everyone involved in the Philippine theater scene--both its practitioners and the audiences. It was a year full of entertainment that made theatergoers realize that this industry has no signs of slowing down in the years to come.

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