THE OPEN THEATER in Fort Santiago hosted PETA’s plays in the 1990s. A live horse ran from the entrance to the stage in Virginia Moreno’s Bayaning Huwad and fireworks lit up the sky in Nick Joaquin’s Larawan.
Originally a Spanish military barracks, the theater was designed and conceptualized by Philippine Educational Theater Association founder, Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, and then executed by National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin. PETA’s current home in New Manila, Quezon City, is a replica of Sulayman Theater.
For three nights, on Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, PETA returns to its original home with the restaging of Bertolt Brecht’s Ang Buhay ni Galileo. Directed by Palanca-award winning playwright Rody Vera, it features Joel Lamangan as Galileo Galilei.
“Galileo is one of the classic shows of PETA at the Fort Santiago, which embodies PETA’s artistic practice from the aesthetics of poverty and ensemble acting to the kind of music used during that period,” said Maribel Legarda, PETA’s artistic director.
She said the play also serves as an opportunity for collaboration between the non-active senior members and active PETA actors. “And of course, we find the message of Galileo very timely. It interrogates the questions of power and what is the truth,” she added.
Ang Buhay ni Galileo, written by Brecht and translated by Alan Glinoga, tells the story of one of the most controversial astronomers in the Renaissance period who defied the Church’s belief that the sun revolved around the earth. Confirming Copernicus’ theory that the sun is indeed the center of the solar system, Galileo used the telescope to radically change the way man perceives the world, the universe, and his place in it.
During his lifetime, Galileo discovered Jupiter’s four satellites, the sunspots, confirmed the phases of Venus, and the observation of Saturn’s rings, among many others. His heliocentric theory irked the Roman Inquisition, which branded his ideas absurd and heretical because they contradicted the Holy Scripture.
Asked if Ang Buhay ni Galileo was just the first of many productions to be mounted in PETA’s old haunt, Ms. Legarda said that it was a possibility — but that the company would have to figure out logistics. “We’ve always wanted to go back,” she said: “I thought that we could do so once or twice a year, but it is going to be difficult. Every time we have to go back, we have to bring in everything, lights, chairs, etc. It’s a big production.”
Also a challenge is the weather. “It has changed from the time [the theater] was founded. Before, when you chose summer, you knew that the rain would stop in October, and you could have a show from September until December. That’s not the case anymore. The nature of the space was not allowing us to expand our audience because it became difficult, and the fact that it does not have a roof so we could only do shows at night,” she said.
The creative team behind Ang Buhay ni Galileo includes Brenda Fajardo (set and costume design), Boni Juan (set and costume execution), Dodjie Fernandez (musical direction), and Ian Torqueza (lighting design).
Joining Mr. Lamangan in the cast are Upeng Galang Fernandez, Randy Villarama, Jojo Atienza, Jack Yabut, Gold Villar Lim, Roi Calilong, Gie Onida, Shé Maala, Kiki Baento, Archi Adamos, Bodjie Pascua, Boy Aquino, Bene Manaois, Joseph Madriaga, Fredyl Hernadez, Norbs Portales, Manny Pambid, Jason Barcial, John Moran, Ian Segarra, Neomi Gonzales, Noel Comia, and Omar Uddin. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman
Tickets are P600 each. Contact Ticket World at 891-9999 or PETA at 0905-369-6003.