PLAYWRIGHT Jay Crisostomo’s entry to this year’s Virgin Labfest theater festival, Dapithapon, tackles the struggles of student life and adolescence.

The play follows three senior high school boys who all have to confront their greatest fears in one day: flunking out of school, impossible parental expectations, and an unhealthy infatuation with a teacher. They cling to one another and try to preserve their friendship before they are parted.

Mr. Crisostomo said that the play is a “slightly autobiographical story” of his time in school.

“All the main characters were based on friends from school. Iba lang ‘yung mga pangalan (Names were just altered),” he told BusinessWorld during a Zoom interview on June 2.

Aside from the story being a trip down memory lane, “I want [the show] to be a reminder [for others] to keep that youthful vigor, even if we have to face the real world and ‘be adults’,” he said.

Thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, Dapithapon and the other plays in this year’s Virgin Labfest (VLF) — the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ theater festival which focuses on new, unstaged one-act plays — are going to have live streamed performances on the VLF YouTube page.

A comic book’s panels is what influenced the Dapithapon team’s approach to telling the play’s story online.

“It’s been a grueling process for us to ask actors to go into certain frames,” Director Sigmund Roy Pecho said, citing that the actors navigate themselves in their own spaces depending on the required shot.

“Perhaps it’s difficult for some to call it theater since we are not in the same space and do not have an audience to interact with,” he added.

The production will also include anime reactions to the show.

Malayu-layo na ‘yung narating natin, pero malayo pa ‘yung babaybayin natin (We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go,” Mr. Pecho said on the challenges of working in the new medium.

The play’s cast members are Peewee O’Hara, Quiel Quiwa, Khayl Sison, Ina Azarcon-Bolivar, and Jerome Dawis.

Dapithapon will stream live on June 14, 3 p.m., and June 27, 5 p.m.

Aside from the plays and staged readings, viewers can also catch the VLF Playwright’s Fair online with this year’s playwrights talking about their work on June 11-14, 17-20, 25-27 at 8 p.m. Meanwhile, the Virgin Labfest 2020 Writing Fellowship Program will culminate in an online staged reading of the fellows’ works on June 28 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

For more details and show schedules, visit and, or join — Michelle Anne P. Soliman