The show goes online

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A virus outbreak and enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) have inspired more creativity than hindered it. While the audience is temporarily avoiding going to the theater, new stories are going to them online instead.

The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) launches Charot! The Unwanted Prequel today at noon on its official Facebook page. “Since the lockdown, we’ve been trying to keep our presence online through the Facebook page,” PETA’s artistic director Maribel Legarda told BusinessWorld in a video interview. “It’s our small contribution to this confinement that there is some kind of entertainment and educational activity,” she added. 

During the first week of quarantine, Charot! The Musical (2019)’s playwrights Michelle Ngu and J-mee Katanyag suggested coming up with a story where Charot’s characters find themselves in the current pandemic situation. 

The new story is set a month prior to the events in Charot! The Musical which was set in May 2020 and tackled moving towards a federal form of government. In Charot! The Unwanted Prequel, the country known as “P.I.” has been under the governance of Papsy for four years, and the nation is faced with dealing with the “Charona veerus.” 

The story will be told through a series of video episodes which will be uploaded on PETA’s Facebook page weekly.

Ms. Ngu said that the script draws its inspiration from current events, trending topics on social media, and citizens’ reactions to the news.

The first episode features how Nanay and Tita Mary Grace are coping with the enhanced community quarantine. The story focuses on the disparity between socioeconomic classes and how some sectors are left behind despite given solutions. 

Ms. Ngu said that the actors are given instructions on how to shoot scenes on their own based on the script. Their videos are then sent to an editor. 

“It’s interesting since we are being forced to reinvent theater in another way all of a sudden,” said Ms. Legarda, citing challenges on how theater adapts to digitalization. “It’s interesting to work in different spaces, but you’re still trying to create this piece together.” 

The second episode will feature a FAQs session about health and wellness with the Beki Cab Driver; while the theme for the third episode is still in the works. 

Ms. Legarda and Ms. Ngu hope that the platform “will be able to speak about current happenings,” and “inspire critical thinking and vigilance.” 

“Right now we have three episodes. Hindi pa namin alam if madadagdagan (We are not certain if more episodes will be added). I guess, we’re open to that,” Ms. Ngu said. 


Meanwhile, PETA’s Let’s Get Creative online workshops, moderated by the company’s actors and teachers, will resume on April 13. The workshops cover a variety of topics such as dance, music, acting, and crafts. The start of PETA’s summer Workshop Express classes have been pushed back from May 2 to June 7. 

Aside from creating online content, the theater company is also conducting two donation efforts. The first is for the distribution of rice to 300 families in Brgy. Kristong Hari, Quezon City, the barangay where PETA’s theater center is located. As of April 7, PETA was able to distribute P66,800 worth of rice. The second donation drive is meant for healthcare workers. PETA artists’ have come up with a collaborative version of  the song “Munting Parangap” from the musical Rak of Aegis, which was released together with a call for donations for medical equipment such as personal protective equipment which will go to the frontliners of the East Avenue Medical Center. 

To stream the show and for more information on donation efforts, visit — Michelle Anne P. Soliman