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18 men, 2 beds, 3 beanbags, handcuffs, rope, and a swivel chair.

 

As his final output as a Creative Writing student, budding young playwright Riley Palanca offers “Delight/Delirium”, a festival of four one-act plays, under the supervision of multi-award-winning writer, Paolo Manalo. It runs from August 31 to September 2 at the Teatro Hermogenes Ylagan, Faculty Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman.

 

This festival of four one-act plays, under the direction of Arkel Mendoza, Chic San Augstin, J Victor Villareal, and Katte Sabate, looks into that triggering incident that shifts the dichotomy from the pains of delight into the logic of delirium. This is both a celebration and a lament of that psyche of an underground, masculine, and queer subculture, with each play layering deeper and deeper into the world of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, violence, rage, angst, war, power, and memories.

 

BRO

When five high school boys stumble into one of their friend’s basement to engage in their usual drug sessions, little did they know how it would be the night that would change them. As they get more and more inebriated, each boy zooms in on an incident in their group’s life, breaking down the barriers between individual and group, ultimately leading them to question why they became friends in the first place.

 

VIPER

In a post-apocalyptic Philippines where the Clergy has taken control of the government and homosexuals are being massacred, Viper, a high-ranking rebel soldier, attempts to resurrect his murdered lover by kidnapping and interrogating an imperial priest about the whereabouts of a specific body part — only to find out that its discovery comes at a price of its own.

 

MAGKANO

One night that could have been typical for two people: the first throwing himself into the world in search for himself; the second, willing to oblige — for a price. Both callboy and client are trapped in an endless negotiation about boundaries and fetishes. When the games begin, their whole philosophies on love, sex, and relationships (the big three) might get either reaffirmed or shattered beyond thought.

 

LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Who owns a memory? Who steals a memory? Is a memory a fragmentation of truth or the weaving of a lie? What are these men, are they men, are they characters, are they caricatures, or are they ultimately ideals? One man questions his present by rooting through his past, clawing through the shards that make him whole. A confession with no penance.

 

For inquiries, please contact Riley at +639159705508 or e-mail him at palanca.riley@gmail.com. Please follow our Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/delightdelirium2012) for more updates.

 

Poster by Sigmund Pecho

Poster by Joanna Malinis

 

I have moved

Good day, everyone!

Thank you for everyone who has thus far followed Pardon the Innuendos but I have moved to a different blog — deelaytful.

If you have been following me here, please do drop by a visit at deelaytful as well. If you are reading this for the first time and want to get to know me better, please go there as well.

Thank you so much! I have tried to create a divide between the two — keeping deelaytful for literary works and innuendos for a “blog-blog” but lately most of my traffic has been centered there, so there. I do plan on merging the two (I have no idea how to merge blogs though) especially since I will be getting back on track with my play reading challenge as soon as my tarot writing challenge gets done.

Happy reading!

A few days ago, I was all set to go to my yoga class, when my friend Nick Guila called me up, inviting me to watch Rivalry: Ateneo-La Salle The Musical. I said, sure, why not? (He’s such a bad friend, he made me run the whole Emerald Avenue, making me think that the play was starting, all the while, I still had an hour. But that’s in the past.)

As the title of this post goes and as a few friends of mine would know, after watching this play, I have a hankering for a boy from La Salle as well. Although to be frank about it, it has less to do with the quality of the play we watched and is actually based on the fact that I am such an envious person that when I see something I like want to have it as well. Case in point: A Boy from La Salle.

You probably don’t care about me anyway so enough about my own wish for a boy from La Salle, so on to the play itself – the very first thing that struck me was the audience. Now you may not think this is important but the composition of the audience is reflective of the play’s target market. While there were many young-looking college students sporting green and blue, what surprised me was the presence of so many old people. (And no, let’s not euphemize. Old is old.) Probably alumni seeking to relive their glory days. I was actually wondering at the beginning if this were a show about alumni – let’s face it – some of the cast members just do not look like college students.

The first thing that sprung on me was the set. Perhaps this is my own bias as a UP student but, while I get that that was supposed to resemble Araneta, it looks a lot like People’s Power. I didn’t like it very much – while it was admittedly versatile and is tied back to the whole college basketball motif, it felt too generic. To put pictures of people as the major set piece requires a deeper necessity, something this lacked – which actually segways me into the text itself. It was quite…meh.

Of course, one can argue that the play does not aim to be deeper (cf. Rent, Avenue Q) and simply be a feel-good romp (cf. Legally Blonde: The Musical) and that’s fine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. (The most feel-good theatrical show is still a lot better than most of the things on primetime TV anyway.) It is established that as a musical, this is not ground-breaking, this is not brilliant, this is something that is supposed to be fun and that is alright.

The biggest problem was that at one point in the musical, I lost any feelings I had and started to wonder why I should care about these people.

Let me justify. First point, we’re supposed to care about the rivalry. A decent enough goal. The problem for me was it was lacking in uniqueness. In the middle of act I, you can remove the “Ateneo” and “La Salle” quality and change it to…”Sharks” and “Jets” or “Montagues” and “Capulets” or really any other old rivalry. In other words, a rivalry play has already been done, probably done better. Unlayering the local color (wow, it’s about Ateneo? That’s so….needy – I mean, local), there is nothing there to keep me holding on. The Atenean-ness and the La Salle-ness of it is only present in the first song and practically lost itself in the middle. Fine, one could argue that they are supposed to seem practically the same, but it loses the dichotomy of the two groups of people. I could not figure out a substantial difference.

I go to the fact that I lack a solid lead character to hang on. I am in the belief that within the first ten minutes of any play, we should know who to root for. Apparently, we’re supposed to care about the La Salle guy (jesus, I’m so bad with names, I’ll just call him LS guy.) He’s supposed to be the lead. Problem is, with the Felix Rivera character (FR) meeting up with the annoying Miriam girl (aMg), the playwright is setting-up a dramatic trope. Within the first ten minutes, the audience should know who the lead character is – and we had FR to grasp when apparently it’s about the LS guy. Fine, I can see the effort with how FR is talking to OJ Mariano character (OJ) about LS but it becomes forgettable. In other words, FR initially becomes the lead and it becomes hard to sympathize with LS because of that. (BTW, the OJ character doesn’t really have a story. Apparently, he’s really pressured.)

Why is aMg annoying? On the face level, the girl in the play sound so whiny. They apparently all speak in this high-pitched, bitchy, shallow tone. On a more important note, aMg has no character – she is a recycling of girls like the one from High School Musical. Second, she is wearing some sort of a jacket, probably to make her stand-out from the other annoying Miriam girls. That is just plain cheating, IMHO. I mean, sure, best way to show that this annoying Miriam girl is different from the other annoying Miriam girls is to make her wear a jacket. Also, she has absolutely no character arc, I have no idea what her problem is, why she’s so sexually repressed. She has no character, just generic angst. Also, apparently, she can change her mating decision as quick as a snap. (That was a problematic scene for me – it’s such a sexist idea that she has no say on her decision to choose a boyfriend. Fine, you can argue it is set in 1968, but it was written in contemporary times. Although you could also say Miriam girls are like that. The playwright did not even bother ending her arc. Hmmmm.)

The one good thing about this play is that it proves that one could still write a play (moreso, a musical) in English and still be Filipino. This is a problem that is dividing the playwrights of today (as opposed to the fictionists and the poets). The issue of language and what makes a play Filipino is being debated on two fronts. I think, and perhaps this is just because we’re talking about Ateneo and La Salle and the 1960′s, the English dialogue worked here and I felt that the language (and how the dialogue was crafted) was quite spot on.

The social relevance scene irked me. It felt unneeded and it is reminiscent of Chris Martinez’s ending scene in Last Order sa Penguin. It basically reads like the playwright realizing that no one really cares about the shallowness of the perceived problems of the lead characters and decides to make it witty by making it self-aware of that fault. It comes off too heavy-handed, we see the playwright’s hand crafting it – it feel unnatural in the sequence of the play.

I was also so annoyed by the ending. It was anti-climactic. I GET IT – You’re pitting two forces of more or less equal power and you want to leave the ending up for grabs. That is a tough situation – but whoever said writing plays was easy? It felt like a cop-out that instead of resolving the situation, the playwright had to result to ending the play at that stage. I also did not get why FR had to get shot – that was another deus ex machina by the playwright to pretend that these middle-class people actually have problems. By having FR shot, he basically used that as a catalyst to pull all the warring characters together. Effective, but still a cheap trick.

I feel that this work would be better as a movie rather than as a play. Generally, this play feel so disjoined. It lacks the substance the great dramas have to last the test of time. It fails to capture the essence of being “Atenean” and “La Sallean” that is crucial to the success of this play. It relies heavily on literary tropes to forwards its message and sacrifices three-dimensional characterization for that. Cute, fine, I’ll give it that. I still don’t care though. I still do want a boyfriend from La Salle.

I want to give this play one star. It is witty and, for all intents and purposes, the dialogue is well-crafted – it is just specific problems in the plot that irk me. It is also interesting because it is written in English. However, I believe that Felix Rivera’s presence in the musical merits another star. So one star for the play and one star for Felix Rivera. So, final rank is two stars. :-)

So depressing we get to read this during Valentines. But, hey, it’s suitable.

  • There has to be understanding that Ibsen’s greatness is predated (at least by this point) by William Shakespeare and the Greek playwrights. Ibsen’s body of work is so strong that theatre as we know it today can easily pinpoint Ibsen’s realism as its foreground.
  • I do want to get this out of the way – the roots of realism are traced to either the publication of ‘A Doll’s House’ or the first staging of it. We have to take into account the tradition of neoclassicism it predates as well as the French concept of the ‘well-made play.’ A parallel, for instance, is Oscar Wilde’s Salome as an example of Symbolist drama. I did not include Salome for the reading challenge (although I read it together with Doll House) but comparing the two, it is a clear shift from technique, attack and theme.
  • It is such a depressing play. Alright, resolution, the next round of Reading Challenges, we’ll do just comedies. Anyway, in Europe, A Doll’s House heralded what is known as a domestic tragedy. Let’s call it a modern tragedy. At the same time, it is ground-breaking for being a ‘problem play’ – a play that shows a specific social problem.
  • Let’s move to text, which is arguably the main point of this whole reading challenge. Krogstad is an evil bastard, but I sort of think Mrs. Linde is the bigger bitch in the whole play. Of course, I don’t get why Nora had to spill her secret to Mrs. Linde who obviously is this whole jealous woman with so many issues. But I think, though Mrs. Linde had good intentions by the end, the way Ibsen chose to show a scene where she had to decide whether Krogstad had to withdraw the letter or not shows that it was an important choice and it rested on her. Whether she truly cared about her friend or whether she were just this evil bitch is perhaps up to the director to decide.
  • So much tension is boiling here. The audience is aware of the surface feelings of Nora throughout the whole play, she seems uneasy even though her husband seems to be admiring her. Later on, her explosion that she doesn’t love him pushing things to the limit. In my opinion, the understatements of tension between her and her husbands in acts i and ii really paid off for an explosive act iii.
  • Of course, one can argue that this is one of the earliest texts that talk about women’s rights. (Ibsen would deny that and call it human rights. I see no difference.) It does show the whole bored in a relationship thing but raises it to the level where she and her husband have really lost any love for each other. Rereading portions in the play, even the way they jovially talk to each other, seems to be just a game with no real emotions attached anymore. It’s play. Nora is Helmer’s doll. That is why when Nora reveals all this in the end, we get it.
  • This is the play with the best pay-off, really. It is all surface at the start but it blows up in your face in the end.
  • My favorite line in this play:

    HELMER: No man would trade honor for love.

   NORA: Millions of women have done just that.

Right. So next week, we’ll stay with pioneers of modern theatre. Chekhov, Cherry Orchard.

First of all, apologies. This is a week late, the reason being swamped with so much stuff to do this past week – deelaytful launching, papers, my birthday. Anyway, Way of the World

 

  • It’s so convoluted. On purpose of course. The way the love stories criss-cross, there’ll come a time when I wonder, hey when did this character figure out something; or, wait this guy is good or bad? It reaches that point where you’re just not sure and that is what the point of this play is about. The Way of the World is not simplistic.
  • The fun part – history. This is Neoclassical England (although Congreve would lean more Irish than English). Restoration England had the characteristics of following a closure of the theatres from the puritans (coming from golden age Elizabethan and Jacobean drama) and being influenced by French, Italian and Spanish Theatre (all of which were experiencing a golden age). So – five act structure – check! Happy ending – check! Villains were punished (restoration comedy) – check! Of course, wit and elegance were championed above all in Restoration Comedies (later on to be hated on by the Sentimentalists of the Glorious Revolution but that’s for another week)
  • The wit here is just awesome. The banter – especially the battle between the sexes – is just so witty. In particular, I want to focus on when the girl is talking about what she would do (and not do) as a wife, for me, that was a stroke of brilliance.

 

 

Argh. Sorry, it’s a bit late and I don’t have really that much more to say about the play. The dialogue was superb (especially the women’s dialogues and monologues). I would really love to see a modern spin on this, (although probably modern sensibilities and technologies would render this mute) Next week – IBSEN! DOLL HOUSE! 18th century theatre let’s go!

Still in Continental Europe, this time during the Spanish Golden Age. It was a tough call between Calderon dela Barca and Lope de Vega. de Vega came first and is arguably the more inventive playwright but dela Barca is the one who perfected the technique, merging Renaissance sensibilities, Neoclassical sensibilities and a whole secular/religious/philosophical trifecta. So, Life is a Dream:

  • It was really funny. Most modern playwrights and critics pride tragedy over comedy but as this reading challenge has shown, being comic is not secondary to being tragic. (Tartuffe, Amphitryo, etc)
  • Harping on one of my ideas on last week’s challenge, the whole anxiety of influence will be kicking in. When dela Barca hits the core of existentialism, in a way, it predicates the theatres of Beckett and Anouilh. Its story is a callback as well to something as formulaic as Oedipus with the whole baby and prophesy thing.
  • Perhaps it is the Spanish disposition, but, although I’ve been joking that King Lear should be adapted into a telenovela, Life is a Dream is a telenovela. Love square – check. Jilted lover – check. Regaining honor – check. Dark family secrets – check. Double identity – check. Put all the tropes of soap opera here and then you realize soap opera is not ground breaking because Calderon de la Barca has been doing it.
  • Such conventions is not an indicator of its quality. Yes, the cape and sword trope is popular among the Spanish crowd, but what makes dela Barca’s work powerful is how it enters the existential problems of human condition without sacrificing spectacle. The opening soliloquiy of the prince shows so much insight into the entire play and when his dream monologues come in by Act II, we can forgive its length because its just so brilliant.
  • At the same time, maybe because it’s Spanish, I felt a great sense of movement. Unexpected – it was surprising – but in no means was it contrived. For instance when the king tells the people to pretend it’s all a dream – that was great. There’s just so much twists (blame it on the Spanish) that as a reader you would have to expect the unexpected.
  • My favorite character in this play would have to be Clarion (known as Fife in other translations – he is Rosaura’s servant). Yes, Prince Segismund is the more brilliantly written character (arguably dela Barca’s vessel), but Clarion is just so funny. It is in his character, but the way his dialogue flows and how his character jumps from scene to scene is just remarkable. I felt sad when he died.

Right. That’s it for this week. I really quite liked it more than the others. Funny but deep. So intimidating for a contemporary playwright, damn it. Next week, we go back to England. William Congreve’s The Way of the World.

We’re out of England and into Continental Europe (btw, theatres in England were shut down at this time; blame it on the Puritans) The Neoclassicists were a throwback to what they consider the standards of Classicism of the ancients. Elements of this would come to england when we read the restoration dramas later on. Anyway, Tartuffe:

  • It is quite funny. As with most French farces, not only is Moliere’s wit on fire here, but the potential for other sorts of comic incidents are there, such as physical comedy, slapstick, absurd, etc.
  • What I do want to point out most prominently would be the theme – it attacks hypocrisy of religion (not religion per se but people who bring religion to its most ridiculous extreme. HELLO CBCP!) Primarily with the attack on religious hypocrisy on the table (which isn’t entirely new as Doctor Faustus was commenting on evil popes as well, although Moliere gave more focus to it), as a modern dramatist, you get so depressed. Moliere has been attacking religious hypocrisy four hundred years ago and up to now we’re still doing it. Anxiety of influence, everything has been written about.
  • Still on religion, you could see why Moliere was refused a christian burial. While it does not go against the belief of god or whatever it is the church supports, the attacking of religious practices will offend a certain sector. He may have made it clear (to the point of being ridiculously on the nose) the difference between the two, but perhaps the church is how the church always was.
  • Just like Wilfrido Guerrero had a fetish for nuns, Shakespeare for clowns, Moliere has a fetish for maids. I have previously read Imaginary Invalid and the maid there is just like the maid here. He likes witty, borderline bitchy, maids so much, who are arguably more intelligent than all the other characters in the play. Of course, one could argue that the neoclassicists look back into classical tropes (such as stock Roman characters) and just drop them into neoclassical sensibilities – and, yes, servants were also a fetish of the ancient romans (Hello, Sosia of Amphitryo) – but that would rob Moliere of his intrinsic literary merit.
  • The way that Moliere goes all the way down, making his characters as stupid and as desolate as possible, shows that he has a firm grasp on characterization. In fact, he goes straight to the core and does not hide his characters under any sort of pretense.
  • He has a family ensemble and the way that every character is varied from another is just brilliant. You know when the maid is talking, when it is the wife, the daughter, the son, Tartuffe, etc. And for such a big cast (and given some of them don’t even speak/appear that much) that is an achievement.
  • Very interesting in this play, Tartuffe appears almost in the middle of the play. Everything builds up to the entrance of the lead character. Going by it, it sort of builds the tension – so when Tartuffe comes acting all religious and all, the audience already knows that he is a hypocrite. That is quite a nice structure.
  • It ends with something Aristotle would call a deus ex machina (hello, the king is saving us!) but then again you would expect something like that to happen. As a comedy, you would be anticipating a happy ending and then you see the family having already exhausted all options. In a way, it functions as a feel-good ending. Surprisingly for a plot device, I didn’t exactly NOT like it. So kudos to that.

 

Next week, we’re leaving France and touching on the Spanish Golden Age of Theater. Let’s go with Pedro Calderon dela Barca’s Life is a Dream (then we’ll go back to England the week after)

 

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