FOR its fifth year, the biennial Manila Improv Festival will feature 58 improv acts from all over the world, performing from March 27 to March 31 at the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) Theater Center in Quezon City.
Improv is a form of theater in which most or all of what is performed is unplanned or unscripted.
“This is the most international festival we’ve had yet, with special shows that celebrate and embrace the roots of the individual performers,” festival producer Gabe Mercado said in a press release.
This year’s festival will have an all-Latino show, a French show, an Indians of Singapore show, and an LGBTQ show among many other acts.
“It’s also a result of us travelling a lot. For the first time we have Latin American groups because we went to the Columbia Improv Festival,” Mr. Mercado told BusinessWorld during the launch on Feb. 20 at the PETA Theater Center.
“When we were there we realized we had so much in common with Latin American groups,” he said, noting that much like Filipinos, the Latin American groups also love having music accompany their improvisational acts.
This year’s festival will also see groups and individual performers from Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Australia, the United States, Spain, and France.
“With the huge number of unscripted and unrehearsed performances, you have a whole variety: some of them are comedy, some of them are dramatic, some of them are short-form which looks like games, some of them are a long-form, and some of them are musical. So I guess the best analogy is to think about it like a music festival with different kinds of unscripted performances,” Mr. Mercado said.
The Manila Improv Festival is considered one of the major improv festivals in the world and Mr. Mercado said that Manila is a hot spot in the improvisational theater scene as “Filipinos are the best audiences,” he said, quoting foreigners who have performed in the country.
“It is a new world to play for Manila. Manila loves — everything. They love it when you sing. They love it when you emote. They love it when you are funny. They love it when you are sad. They love,” Prescott Gaylord, an improv performer from Singapore, was quoted as saying in the release.
But aside from showcasing improv talents from all over the world, Mr. Mercado said that the festival is also a way to introduce improv to new audience members who they hope will get hooked on improv.
Aside from performances, the Manila Improv Festival is also hosting workshops led by local and international performers, and a series of talks titled Huntahan which seek to create spaces not just for performance but also for necessary dialogue. Among the topics are: producing an arts festival, discrimination in the artistic community, and the improvisational traditions around the world.
The 5th Manila Improv Festival will be held from March 27 to 31 at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City. Tickets are available online via For more information e-mail — Z. B. Chua