With the dominance of television, movies and multimedia entertainment, traditional theater is finding it difficult to survive. Though by any measure, live performances are equally or even more entertaining, people do not invest on it because they think theater is a dying form of art.
Based on the number of productions ordinary people see and the number of theater companies they know, we can surmise that performing arts is a less popular form of entertainment. And with the common misconceptions that watching musical and theater productions are exclusive to the elite members of the society, the masses and the younger audiences often dismiss the idea of seeing a play.
While we can single out several productions that sell pricey tickets (especially those that are foreign produced), there are theater companies that are committed to make theater accessible to all audiences. One example is Cultural Center of the Philippines’ resident company, Tanghalang Pilipino (TP). Little do many people know, TP initiates outreach activities allowing public school children and even select urban poor community dweller to see some of its plays.
Additionally, TP remains to be unique among other theater groups in the country as it maintains a core of actors who undergo trainings that foster highest standards in artistic discipline, technical skill and professional conduct.
The beauty of theater lies on the actors and how they able to make the audience immersed in the show. Not for any consolation, television or big screen entertainment cannot create the same natural experience. It may have lesser audience compared to popular entertainment, but theater groups like TP, makes this form of art alive.
While popularity still depends on media mileage, reintroducing traditional theater needs to be just relevant to keep and attract more following. It can be a long process of trial and error, but one must understand that the basic or the fundamental form of entertainment is theater.
A simple stage play may solve the pressing problem of the country, it may not make a difference like what the peaceful revolutions on Edsa did to our nation, but this form of art can show how we value our culture and more importantly, this shows who we are as nation.
Paraphrasing what Tanghalang Pilipino chair Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco said in press conference recently, theater is the basic education one must go through to make it big in the mainstream entertainment. This is the reason why he continues to support this form of art and he sees it as a good investment for present and future generation.
In the same press conference, TP’s newest supporter was introduced. Max Makowski, a writer and a director, takes the hat as the president of the 25-year-old theater company.
According to Makowski, although he is not a Filipino, his heart belongs now to the country. He furthered that he is attached to the Philippines mainly because of the “future.” He moved to the Philippines when he was just seven years old but has travelled the world since then that’s why he considers himself more as a citizen of art and not of any particular nation.
“Although I’m not a Filipino, I’m a father of a Filipino. And I want her to grow up with a happy relationship with her country through art…My love for creativity makes me a citizen of the arts,” he says.
Tanghalang Pilipino caps its 25th Theater Season with four plays from the Virgin Labfest, the yearly festival of new works for the theater. The select plays deal with the theme “Searching” and tackle man’s search for love, for lost family bond, for noble ideas, for closure and for missing loved ones.
The production will be shown in two sets of twin-bills: Seat A, includes Carlo Pacolor Garcia’s Bakit Wala Nang Nagtatagpo sa Philcoa Overpass, which tells the story of a man and a woman who decide to meet at the Philcoa overpass after months of flirting online; and Layeta Bucoy’s Doc Resureccion: Gagamutin ang Bayan that narrates the tale of a well-meaning doctor that runs for mayor only to find out that the community he so wanted to help desires a different path itself.
Set B, includes Molina Aguila’s Maliw, a bittersweet play that asks the question “How does one close a chapter still to be written?” and Nick Pichay’s Isang Araw sa Karnabal, a funny but poignant play about two former activists that meet again after a long time and attempt to mend broken ties.
Entitled Eyeball: New Vision in Philippine Theater, it will open on Jan. 13 and will run for four weekends until Feb. 12 at the CPP Little Theater.