The gathering of theater scholars, academicians and practitioners is just one the highlights of the 4th National Theater Festival (NTF) organized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Slated from Nov. 8 to 18, the festival also marks its 20th anniversary.
“During our opening ceremony in 1992, seven theater companies paraded at the front lawn of the CCP,” recalled Nanding Josef, NTF festival director.
“We invited a 100-year-old chanter from Panay who performed Hinilawod (an epic poem), Ate Guy (Nora Aunor) sang “Pag-Ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa,” then there was the fountain and the fireworks…that’s how the festival opening ceremony ended with the roof of the CCP literally on fire.”
According to Josef, the festival’s goal was to initially gather together the established theater companies formed in the ‘70s and ‘80s. And because the first edition was a resounding success, they came up with the resolution to stage the event every four years.
“But because of budget constraint, we are unable to do it as originally planned,” Josef explained.
The 10-day event will showcase different forms of stage production, colorful theater groups from all around the country, film screenings, exhibits, and conferences.
The festival’s opening salvo is Tanghalang Pilipino’s Stageshow, a raunchy homage to the twilight years of an almost forgotten entertainment form starring real life thespian couple Shamaine Centenera and Nonie Buencamino. Written by the late theater stalwart Mario O’Hara, the production features a host of celebrities is special cameo appearance.
This year’s edition also showcases the ever-growing achievements of Philippine theater by restaging some groundbreaking productions like PETA’s rap musical called William, and Dulaang UP’s contemporary re-imagining of Francisco Balagtas’ classic Orosman at Zafira.
Most anticipated plays are Gantimpala Theater Foundation’s Sayaw ng mga Seniorita, Trumpet’s Mind’s Eye and Carlos Celdran’s Livin’ La Vida Imelda.
Presenting a variety of theater productions are other leading theater groups and performers from all over the Philippines like Bulacan’s Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation Inc., Bohol Antequera and Maribojoc Cultural Collectives, Integrated Performing Arts Guild of Mindanano State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, Mindanao State University Kabpapagariya Ensemble, Sipat Lawin Ensemble, Tanghalang Ateneo of Ateneo de Manila University, and The Xavier Stage of Cagayan de Oro.
There will also be special performances by Kanlaon Theater Guild of Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod, SPIT (Silly People’s Improv Theater) and ventriloquists Ony Carcamo and Wanlu.
Film screenings will showcase plays that were made into films and films that started out as plays. These include Lino Brocka’s Insiang (written by Mario O’Hara for film and for stage) and Bona (adapted by Layeta Bucoy for stage); Lamberto Avellana’s Portrait of the Artist as Filipino (a Nick Joaquin play); Dennis Marasigan’s North Diversion Road (a Tony Perez play), Anatomiya ng Korupsyon (a Malou Jacob play) and Joel Lamangan’s ZsaZsa Zaturnnah Ze Moveeh (a Chris Martinez/Vincent de Jesus musical theater adaptation of the graphic novel by Carlo Vergara).
Dubbed as “Ika-Apat na Tagpo, Ang Bagong Yugto: The New Act,” the festival also serves as venue that will provide the theater community with opportunities to formulate strategies that can be pursued in order for Philippine theater to create an impact, locally and globally and to forge fellowship and build stronger networks.