Arts & Leisure

CCP to expand with three new theaters

Posted on January 25, 2017

BESIDES ANNOUNCING ITS lineup of shows for this year at its annual institutional press conference, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) had more good news: it will be opening three new theater centers in the coming years.

CCP vice-president and artistic director Chris B. Millado said in a press conference on Jan. 18 that the Black Box Theater -- a 300-seat theater that cost P50 million, and which had its groundbreaking last year -- will have its soft opening in December and will be officially opened to the public in the first quarter of 2018. It is at least three times larger than the current CCP black box theater, the Tanghalang Huseng Batute, and will be the venue for plays, recitals, and chamber operas, among others.

In a span of five years (2010 to 2015), the CCP’s audience has grown from 290,000 to 670,000. “We hope to hit its one million mark this year,” said Mr. Millado.

Its number of artists under its mantle has grown too, from 11,351 to 25,755.

It is this growth that has spurred the need for more venues within the complex.

The CCP announced that it will open two new buildings adjacent to the main edifice: the New Artists Center, which will have rehearsal halls for the artists, black boxes, and restaurants; and the New Performing Arts Theater, a 1,000-seat theater designed by Leandro Locsin and Associates. The CCP secured a budget of P2 billion from the last administration for the construction of the two buildings.

The target opening date for the two buildings is in 2019, in time for the CCP’s 50th anniversary. Once the two buildings are open, the CCP main building, which was designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin, will be closed for major renovations, “because it’s way past its shelf-life,” said Mr. Millado. He noted that a building usually has a shelf-life of 40 years and will need major renovations once it is past that.

Aside from announcing its building plans, the CCP also presented its lineup for 2017.

The main performance this year will start in February -- National Arts Month -- with the popular annual Pasinaya, which is the Philippines’ largest multi-arts festival. Aside from presenting previews of performances in store later in the year by the CCP’s resident companies, this year will see more days for workshops and an arts market. The Pasinaya will be held on Feb. 4 and Feb. 5. (See sidebar story for details.)

The CCP will also host Fringe Manila from Feb. 8 to 26, a celebration of fresh and daring works in theater, literature, dance, music, spoken word, film, and visual art.

Meanwhile, because of great public demand, there will be a rerun of the concert in which the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra plays the music of the pop rock band Aegis. The rerun, called Symphonic Aegis -- Aegis in Symphony: The Repeat (Hugot pa more!), will be held on Feb. 11 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater).

The increase in audience numbers has led to the need to move the venue of the Virgin Lab Fest out of the Tanghalang Huseng Batute. Last year the festival of new and untested plays found itself with fewer seats available than people who wanted to watch the plays, so it will now be held at the CCP Little Theater, which seats 400. The festival will be held on June 28 to 30 and July 1 to 16.

Meanwhile, the CCP’s independent film festival Cinemalaya, now on its 13th year, will be adding an animation category following the success of Saving Sally, a participant in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) in 2016. Cinemalaya will run from Aug. 4 to 13.

Despite all the reforms in this year’s MMFF, which now blurs the line between mainstream and indie films, Mr. Millado said he sees no competition between Cinemalaya and the country’s biggest film festival.

“The more the merrier,” he said. -- Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman