By Jasmine Agnes T. Cruz, Reporter
Children’s Plays for Adults
Presented by Bit by Bit Company
Ongoing until Dec. 20
PowerMac Spotlight at Circuit Makati City
Presented by Egg Theater Company
on Dec. 20, 2 and 7 p.m.
Pineapple Lab, 6071 Palma St,, Makati City
PLAYS abound this Christmas and one can choose from a variety of shows. If one prefers tragic stories with complex emotional arcs then head over to the PowerMac Spotlight at Circuit Makati and watch Children’s Plays for Adults. If one prefers to laugh, one can watch Maniacal, an offering from a new player in the theater scene called the Egg Theater Company.
Children’s Play for Adults is a twin bill of Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala (Palanca-winner Eljay Castro Deldoc’s adaptation of Dean Francis Alfar’s “Kite of Stars”) and Games People Play (written by Palanca-winner Glenn Sevilla Mas). Produced by Bit by Bit Company, both productions are imaginatively directed by Ed Lacson, Jr.
Maria Isabella is about a young woman who realizes that the only way the stargazing boy of her dreams will notice her is if she literally gets to the stars herself. She goes on a quest to get all the materials needed to build a giant kite to get her to the heavens, even if that means she’ll be searching all her life. Meanwhile, Games is about three childhood friends whose games together start out innocent, but they slowly reveal the characters’ desires and become ways for them to explore their sexual identities.
Both shows are exceptionally written, and, more than that, they have been well-conceived for the stage. For Maria Isabella, director Mr. Lacson allows one’s imagination to take flight through the use of papier-mâché puppets, shadow puppetry, and lights. For Games, his simple yet haunting set and the playwright’s creative use of blocking, brings new dimensions to the play.
Tickle your funny bones
Seems like straight plays are on the rise in a theater landscape long dominated by musicals. First came Red Turnip Theater, which vowed to do edgy English straight plays. Now it has a counterpart, Egg Theater Company, which will focus on straight plays in Filipino (original plays, translations, and adaptations).
Egg’s members are production manager Kristine Balmes (who also acts), actors Renante Bustamante, Martha Comia, and Paolo O’Hara, playwright George De Jesus III, director Mara Marasigan (who also acts), and producer Alvin Trono. Many of them have been involved in the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Pilipino.
This group — which boasts of 40 years of theater experience between the members — was formed in 2014. Its first project was Maniacal, De Jesus’s Palanca Award winning Filipino adaptation of Moliere’s The Learned Ladies, which was shown at the first Fringe Festival in Manila last February, then re-staged at the Opera Haus of the Philippine Opera Company. It is being staged yet again at Makati’s Pinneapple Lab. Directed by Mr. De Jesus, Maniacal features Via Antonio, Mayen Cadd, Martha Comia, Nel Gomez, Renante Bustamante, Mara Marasigan, Paolo O’Hara, and Jojo Riguerra.
Maniacal is set in present day Manila where a group of theater and film artists are rehearsing for Moliere’s Le Femmes Savant (The Learned Ladies). Drama ensues when some of the actors have to decide whether they should quit the show to be part of a Broadway musical, a diva begins making demands and dramatic admonitions, and actresses express their delusional assumptions about a co-actor.
Interesting and funny, the play mentions real local theater companies, actual Filipino theater actors and actresses, recently shown plays and musicals, and even the internal issues in certain theater companies and uses them as the butt of jokes. While these jokes are a treat for the avid theatergoer or someone who is part of the theater scene, audience members who are not might not understand them.
Egg Theater has a set of plays lined up after Maniacal. Scheduled for February is Schism, a satire about a playwright, appropriated from Moliere’s Le Misanthrope Ou L’Atrabilaire Amoureux. For April, there is the Filipino translation of The Pillowman by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, about a fiction writer who the police interrogate because his short stories are similar to the recent child murders in their town. Next September, Egg will present a trilogy of Moliere’s plays on hypocrisy entitled Moliere PMS — Praning (Le Malade Imaginaire/The Imaginary Invalid, a satire about directors), Maniacal (Le Femmes Savant/The Learned Ladies), and Schism (Le Misanthrope Ou L’Atrabilaire Amoureux/The Misanthrope).
For details about Children’s Plays for Adults, contact 0917-570-4359, 0917-886-0816, or TicketWorld at www.ticketworld.com.ph. For details about Maniacal, contact 0917-844-0520