Trolling the troll

Font Size

TO GET and sustain the youths’ attention, PETA’s musical production Game of Trolls, incorporates all things millennial: rap battles, an LED-light party, a love story, music, and comedy, which will all revolve around the core story of martial law.

“We made it emotionally available for the millennials. We have love, we have music, we made it funny – [which are all] the aesthetics of millennials, while the context is still there,” said PETA’s artistic director, Maribel Legarda, at a press conference on Aug. 22.

Game of Trolls, an advocacy show that will run for the whole month of September, is intended for the millennial audience born long after martial law (1972-1981) who need to know this major Philippine historical event.

“But we don’t want to preach in the choir,” said Ms. Legarda, adding that the aim of the show is to be a platform, a “point of smart conversation amid the polarities of people’s point of views.”

While the main focus of the musical is on martial law, it will also integrate topics on extrajudicial killings (EJKs), albeit in passing. Ms. Legarda likens the show to a newspaper, saying, “we try to be updated and to be a visual chronicler of our time,” she said.

Game of Trolls is the story of Heck (alternately played by Myke Salomon and TJ Valderama), an online troll warrior for Bimbam, the manager of a troll center that is handling an online pro-martial law campaign. Heck’s indifference toward martial law makes him the perfect troll for anyone who is against it because he can easily throw hurtful words online. But when the ghosts of the martial law victims hunt him down from the cloud data storage system, he is forced to reflect on his own beliefs and to reconnect with his mom Tere, a former activist (Upeng Galang-Fernandez and Gail Guanlao-Billones alternate).

Game of Trolls is directed by Ms. Legarda and written by Liza Magtoto, the same tandem behind PETA’s successful musical Rak of Aegis.

“We decided to use a troll for our character to connect to a story about martial law. Although anti-social and noncommital, the protagonist troll in this play can’t be a die-hard believer because if he were, it would be too fantastic to get him to have a change of heart. The cloud, although known as a private storage space, has also become our metaphor of our collective memory,” said Ms. Magtoto.

The production is supported by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, and DAKILA: Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism.

“Why tell the story of martial law? As artists, we in PETA remain steadfast in our mission to use the arts to reflect peoples’ stories and examine our history so we can find meaning in chaos, make sense of our realities, and have vision amidst doubt and cynicism. Why the need to remember? Because it is in remembering that we understand. With understanding, we care. And then we care, we stand firm, we march, and shout, #NeverAgain,” said Beng Santos-Cabangon, PETA’s executive director, in a statement.

Tickets to Game of Trolls are available on TicketWorld (891 9999, Visit for tickets and information. – Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman