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VIDEO: Excerpts from PSF's Bar Theater Every Saturday Night

PSF CEO Atty. Vince Tanada says its bar theater concept is a 'first of its kind in the metro.'

Manila, Philippines--Live performances, more specifically in-person theatrical productions, are slowly making their transformative presence felt once again, which was practically nil during the onslaught of the pandemic. One of these early curtain-raisers is the Philippine Stagers Foundation's string of short plays on Saturday nights, which have launched both the theater group's bar theater concept and a black box theatre venue located in the heart of Sampaloc, Manila.

In one of its preview performances, we gobbled up a big plate of party nachos with the help of some ice-cold fruit-flavored local beer. We were also widely entertained by the three-team emcees of PSF CEO Atty. Vince Tanada, PSF alums Ean "Yan Yan" Flores, and Godfrey Astronomo--their language, at times, are "for mature audiences only," akin to a local comedy bar parlance. But those guaranteed laughs died when the featured short plays set the stage before its engaged and supportive audience comprised mostly Gen Zers to a few baby boomers.

In Mr. Tanada's "Sa Carwash," directed by Fidel Redado, we were transported to a present-day, often idle, carwash station in Sampaloc, Manila. Its cast feature Stephanie Quitlong (Pam), Dayrold Corpus (Ton), Daniel Egana (Rick), and Jillian Delos Reyes (Joey). On the other hand, in Glory Ann Nacional's "Wagas," directed by Mr. Tanada, the playwright brings nuanced life to her penned character, Auring, opposite Mr. Tanada's pained Damian in a post-war Ilocos. Seeing Mr. Tanada and Ms. Nacional on stage--spitting out heart-piercing words of regret--is a masterclass in acting, where PSF's brood of actors can take in a thing or two to become better performers.

The other highlights of the night were Mr. Tanada's other short plays: "Sa Azotea," directed by Mr. Redado, featuring Klowie Florendo (Kashmir) and Carl Rasco (Abdul); the Aliw Award recipient "Loob," directed by Mr. Tanada, featuring Gerald Magallanes (Mika) and OJ Arci (Manika); and "Kristal," a new material, directed by Mr. Tanada. PSF alum Art Gabrentina's "Sako," directed by Mr. Tanada, closed the series of performances; the show features Chin Ortega (Lolo Inggo), Michael Max (Erwin), and Jona Mendez (Berna).

The PSF Black Box Theater was operated by Johnrey Rivas, theatre manager and director; Ean Flores, sound designer and spinner; John Paul Santos, lights designer and technical director; Kiel Najera and Alex Baylon, stage managers; Chin Ortega, bar manager; and Denise Agustin and Marivil Villaruel, kitchen managers. Theater workshop participants 2022, clad in the famed "Squid Game" green tracksuit, served as food attendants while offstage.

After six-weekend previews, PSF's Bar Theater officially opens this Saturday, July 2, starting at 6 p.m. Its cover charge is P100 only.

PSF Black Box Theater is located at 2065 G. Tuazon Street, Sampaloc, Manila. It's just beside the PSBank branch along G. Tuazon Street.

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