Arts & Leisure

12 years and still virgin

Posted on June 08, 2016

TAKING as its theme “binyag,” which means baptism in Filipino, represented by the hatching of an egg in its logo this year, the Virgin Labfest -- a festival of untried, unstaged, and unpublished plays -- celebrates its 12th year by taking playwrights through their “baptism of fire.”

Virgin Labfest 12 will feature 12 new works, five staged readings, three site specific works known as “Fragments,” 10 five-minute plays by their writing fellows, four film adaptations based on the plays previously staged at the Labfest, and three plays shown in Labfest 11. The festival, a joint venture of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Tanghalang Pilipino, and the Writers’ Bloc, Inc., runs from June 29 to July 17 at various venues within the CCP.

CCP Vice-President and artistic director Chris Millado said that the hatching egg logo for Virgin Labfest 12 symbolizes the coming out of participating playwrights from their “shells.”

This year the organizers welcomed a new partner for the Labfest, IdeaFirst Company, led by filmmaker Perci Intalan.

“Together with my husband (film director) Jun Robles Lana, theater was our first love. This partnership will be true to the vision of the company,” Mr. Intalan said.

This year’s list of “virgin playwrights” includes fellowship graduates May Cardoso and Soc delos Reyes, Kanakan Balintagos who is known for his work in film and theater, National Book Award winner Eliza Victoria, multi-awarded poet Ma. Cecilia dela Rosa, and Web content writer Rick Patriarca.

Returning veterans Dr. Oggie Arcenas, Maynard Manansala, Eljay Castro Deldoc, Juan Miguel Severo, Dingdong Novenario, Herlyn Alegre, Dominique La Victoria, Guelan Luarca, and Carlo Vergara will also be presenting works this year.

Mr. Vergara, of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah fame, said his entry Mula sa Kulimliman will make the audience think of what is reality. “What if the realities you believe in are not true? What if your husband is the Panday-type of guy?” he said.

Mr. Arcenas, a University of the Philippines School of Economics associate professor, meanwhile said the idea for his play, Si Jaya, Si Ronda, Si Barbra at ang Mahiwagang Kanta, came from one Writer’s Bloc outing they had where a karaoke machine with a coin slot caught their attention.

“I keep coming back to Labfest because of the fame and fortune,” he quipped. “No, but seriously, I always look for that particular kind of stress [it brings].”

Virgin Labfest will also stage a reading of a musical written by multi-awarded composer and musical director Vince de Jesus, and works by other featured writers like Layeta Bucoy, Job Pasibigan, Jonathan Tadioan, and Adrian Ho.

Meanwhile, PUP Sining Polyrepertory will present “Fragments” featuring the works of Labfest virgins Dwein Baltazar and Alex Dungca, and veteran Jerome Ignacio, which will be performed as pop-up shows.

Film crossovers to be screened are J. Dennis Teodisio’s Gee Gee at Waterina which is based on the play first presented during innaugural year of the Virgin Labfest; Denisa Reyes and Mark Gary’s Hubad, which is based on Liza Magtoto’s work presented in the festival’s second year; Emmanuel Palo’s David F, based on Ms. Magtoto’s Paigan which debuted during Virgin LabFest 5; and Law Fajardo’s award-winning film Imbisibol, whose theatrical version was seen at the Labfest’s ninth edition.

Tickets for Virgin Labfest 12 are for sale at the CCP and at TicketWorld outlets. For ticketing information, call the CCP Marketing Department at (02) 832-3706 or (02) 832-3704, or e-mail the Sales and Promotions Division at -- Camille Anne M. Arcilla