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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

 

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It just struck me today that the sem’s (almost) over. Last week, I was too preoccupied with productions to note that these are, in fact, FINAL productions implying the end of the semester draws near. So today, I found out a bittersweet fact – I could now delete my alarms!

To elaborate – most alarm clocks (or in my case, program) have a feature that allows you to set it in a recurring pattern. In my case, my alarm goes off at 7am during Tuesdays and Thursdays and at 9:30am during Wednesdays and Fridays. And that has been a pseudo-regular pattern for this whole sem. And, now that the sems over, GOODBYE ALARMS!

Not that I’m in celebration mood yet. Yesterday, I still had a final production for Tap Dance. Today, I still had an exam in Theatre History, which I hope I did well in. Aside from those, just an Acting Final on Monday and an exhibit to set-up on Tuesday and I’m free as a bird…

Not. No, I don’t have a sembreak. Starting next week, rehearsals for “Ang Unang Aswang” begin and I have to be there everyday. No, I’m not an actor there. I’m one of the two stage managers! I’m super-excited to jump-start my technical theatre career with a full-fledged SM-gig. Can’t wait to start working.

Anyway, just something to share that happened today. A professor advised me to shift from my performance track to theater research track. It’s not that you can’t do research and  perform at the same time – which I intend to do – it’s that I have to do a research-based thesis. Oh well. Goodbye plans for a movement thesis. Chos. I guess we actually do have to play to our strengths. 

I don’t know I’m still confused about what my life and career will be post-theater. I’m still in the ‘Is this even the right field for me’ deliberations so I hope to find the answers more next sem. Yikee – Directing! Yikee – Playwriting! Two of my most awaited subjects. Can’t wait to start next sem.

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This was a very performance-oriented day.

First off was Dancing in September. I was surprised by the turnout of this event of CHK. There were a lot of people and some of them were people I’d never expected to see. (Hello PB, Paolo, Doodz, Joy, Arjay, Joseph, Acey, Classmate from 160) etc. And, in fact, I saw a lot of people performing that I didn’t expect to see! (Roxie for Bellydancing, Jen and Mel for Line Dance, Miggy for Ballet, Leya and Red for Cheerdance, Hannah for Hawaiian Hula and, the queen of it all, Nadz for Striptease Aerobics. Nadz, the reason I’m single right now is because you’re not teaching me your routine. Chos)

While I had fun dancing and performing our 2-month old tap routine to the song of ‘Moving on Up’ (which we’re happily moving on from), there was really nothing that eventful that happened. Imma miss that routine though. Lez do it one more time for fun’s sake!

Anyway, the more interesting part of the day was watching INFORMATION FOR FOREIGNERS by Griselda Gambaro, adapted and directed by Anton Juan. 

I must say, I loved it. I’ve read the orignal text last summer and it instantly became a favorite. Even as text, it was written in a very unconventional manner. I don’t really wanna spoil it here as the beauty of the text lies in its spontaneity. 

And yes.The production was great.  It was chilling. It was brilliant. And it was apt. This is indeed a production that will stick with you for a long time. Everything from the acting, to the lights, to the sounds was just riveting. I just hope I don’t have dreams of the things that happened there tonight.

No in-depth review to be published online as usual. It’s just not appropriate for a theater student pursuing a performance/directing tract to do so.

Watch Information for Foreigners, it runs today up to Sunday, 7PM at the CAL New Building. Tickets at 160 pesos.

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Last night, I had the privilege to rewatch Tanghalang Ateneo’s WALANG SUGAT (direction by Josefino Tolledo, choreography by Dexter Santos) at the Irwin Theater with my high school buddy Elaine Fernandez. And here’s the catch – due to a great tip from my new friend Joshua (an engineering freshman in UP and part of the ensemble in Walang Sugat), I got in for free!

That’s right – FREE! (And if you’re reading this and are interested, you could still catch a free show tomorrow and, I think, on Sunday) I’m not so sure on the details surrounding it but apparently it was due to some sort of ‘no market’, ‘paper audience’ type of thing. The thing is, we got in for FREE. (Because, honestly, I’ve already payed 250 to see it the first time it run, I would not pay the same amount to watch the same thing)

First of all, it is a refreshing experience to be a theater audience once again. DUP is stressing me out and I needed a good reminder why I’m doing what I’m doing – theater is LOVE.

Barring a few (okay it was a little major major) technical difficulties in the prologue and, of course, the irritating 30-minute delay (Whatever happened to good ol’ fashion theatre etiquette?), I enjoyed the production. I saw some stuff that was new compared to the first time I saw it. I enjoyed the acting of the leads, the chorus was great, the choreogrpahy was spot-on.

When I first saw this, my main complaint was the sounds person in charge of lapel apparently wasn’t paying attention. The boy singing ‘Bayan Ko’ had his lapel OFF for the entire first stanza – and this was supposed to be their showstopper number! At least this time, they had a better sounds person. (And yes I highly enjoyed the ‘Bayan Ko’ number more this time)

Shout out goes to my friend NICOLE ROXANNE ALDIOSA. She’s my classmate in movement and she was also part of the chorus in DUP’s Atang and the original run of Walang Sugat. This time, she plays one of the leads, Monica, the role originated by Delphine Buencamino who is currently playing Zafira in Orosman at Zafira. Shout out goes to my friend JOSHUA SOLOMON who was the one who invited me. Great job, you have a future in theater! 🙂 Shout out goes to AUGUSTUS! He’s a set-mover in the play. Of course, shout out goes to DEXTER SANTOS, the choreographer! GREAT CHOREO SIR! 🙂

Again, as with Legally Blonde, I deem it improper for me to post an in-depth critical review of this play in public given that (1) I’m a theater student and (2) I plan to make my living as a performer and not as a critic. Anyway, catch WALANG SUGAT. It’s free tomorrow, and it’s also worth the 250 ticket so also watch next week. IT’S WORTH IT! 🙂

NEXT: OROSMAN AT ZAFIRA!

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We have to put my PE class in perspective. So far, we’re doing tap dance drills, which are basically combinations of the basic ‘shuffle/hop/flop/etc’ basic steps. They’re not necessarily difficult per se, but tap dance is not just dancing to a beat, it’s creating a beat of itself. Today was no different than before, with Professor Kimpo calling out steps and me, in my usual position, at the front yet at the side.

Then suddenly she pointed at me and said, ‘You, go to the front of the class para magayahan ka nila.’ At first, I thought she was referring to the person either beside or behind me. It was a surge of both shock and ‘what-the-hell-is-going-on’ moment I had when I timidly took my position at the center. The thing is, I’m really not confident with my performance. I know I could get the steps easily, but putting me in front really scared me. What if I make more mistakes and they copy MY mistakes? What if I suck and everyone could see? (Hence, why I was hiding at the side.) 

However, I decided to just forget it all and concentrate on the dance. If I make a mistake, so what? I’ll gladly retreat back to my corner. I cleared my mind and focused only on the steps Prof. Kimpo called out. And, believe it or not, I got almost all the steps first time around! I could feel the adrenaline rush inside me as people around me were asking me if they were doing the steps correctly or if I could do the choreography with them.

Right. Being put in the front of the class is a big ego-booster from yesterday’s fiasco. (See previous post)

Anyway, another interesting (and totally unrelated thing) happened that afternoon. We were supposed to watch Virgin Labfest VI at CCP. It was sort of a rush decision for us 131 students, yet we found happiness in rushing. Had I been given a choice, I personally would not have chosen to watch it because I’m still a little bit bitter that they didn’t choose to stage the one-act play I submitted ‘Bro.’ (TSK!) But then again, it’s life, we win some, we lose some, we move on. 

VLF VI was at a literally, although not figuratively, Black Box theater. Let’s really REALLY not discuss what a black box theater really is because that’s going to take one whole essay. Anyway, this was Set C (Pecado Mortal) and there were three plays staged. I thought they were, for the most part, really good and even borderline brilliant. The twist in Floy Quintos’ ‘Suor Clara’ was really unexpected. My mouth turned into a little ‘O’ when I heard Clara point at the priest and say the defining word of the play, ‘Salvi.’ Everything just clicked. Issa Borlaza’s ‘Sa Package Counter’ directed by the awesome Chic San Agustin of Dulaang UP (who celebrated her birthday the day before!) was both charmingly humorous and tastefully gory. And finally, UZ. Eliserio et al’s ‘Matyag’ presented an eerie rendition of a social taboo that sent chills to practically every audience member even just as they were putting the set-up.

The acting was good, the directing was good. Although as a small nitpick, I feel that the blocking is more suited for a Proscenium staging rather than a thrust one. Speaking as someone on house right, there were times when I couldn’t see if they were kissing, what was on the bag, etc. But that’s really minor. I feel that the strongest thought the set gave was the impact it gave its audience. Everyone could not get the image of the fetus out of their mind. And even during scenes of the final play, some of the audience members were covering their eyes. And we can’t blame them – theater is THEIR experience and if they can’t process it, that’s alright as well. 

One thing I’ve realized is that plays that have two characters tend to have circular dialogue. Understandable, but fascinating as well. 

On a closing note, I personally wonder what it’s like to be an actor for a play that tackles something that’s morally taboo. And not just scraping at the issue but really immersed in it. Most of the productions I’ve been part of have been fun, they’ve been comedies, they’ve been light, etc. I wonder as a creative person how would you enter and interpret something that would potentially violate audience’s minds. It’s earthshattering. It’s intriguing. I want to try to be part of a production like that sometime.

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Rent (Book, Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson), the 1996 Tony Winner for Best Musical, closed its doors in Broadway last September 2008, making it at the time the ninth longest running Broadway Musical. While there have been other productions (ie, touring companies, international productions like 9Works Theatrical’s production of Rent here in the Philippines this February), none of those could recapture the glory days of Broadway Rent. I cannot express the joy and emotions Rent fans feel when they see this show. Instead, let me show you the video from the 2008 Tony’s that would bring a tear to any Renthead out there.

Enough about reminiscing. As some of you may have read about, Neil Patrick Harris, or Barney to all HIMYM fans out there, is going to direct the Hollywood Bowl performance of Rent, spanning just around three nights. Harris is no stranger to either musical theater or even Rent, having played the lead role of Mark Cohen in one of the touring companies. This production has indeed attracted a lot of news lately due largely to some casting issues. The biggest issue surrounds the casting of Vanessa Anne Hudgens of High School Musical to play Mimi Marquez, the exotic dancer diagnosed with HIV. Hudgens, whose acting skills have never been the favorite of critics, has already been scrutinized by the public eye due to lacivious sexual acts that run directly against her plush Disney Contract. Joining Hudgens are Tracie Thoms and Gwen Stewart reprising their roles as Joanne Jefferson and Seasons of Love soloist respectively. Thoms has played Joanne definitively in the past both in the movie version as well as the recorded final performance. Stewart, on the other hand, was part of Rent’s original Broadway cast. Wayne Brady, who humorously played NPH’s brother in HIMYM, is cast as Tom Collins and Aaron Tveit, known for a recurring role in Gossip Girl, is Roger Davis. 

But the real clincher of all these news has come recently with the casting of Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger in the coveted role of Maureen Johnson. Scherzinger, while generally a strong singer, has yet to show excetional acting, a prerequisite for the complicated role of Maureen. 

The line-up is interesting, to say the least. Sometimes I wish I have the luxury of just flying to the United States to watch a once-in-a-lifetime production like this. Sigh. Gimme tickets, anyone? 🙂

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