Unable to have live performances, Teatro Europa theater festival goes online

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IF THE TIMES were normal, the first Teatro Europa — a festival featuring plays from all around Europe — would have been staged by theater companies in Paco Park, Manila. With the country (and much of the world) grappling with a pandemic, such performances are not possible because of limitations on gatherings and movement. But the show must go on, and go on they will, digitally.

“I think it is a beautiful initiative, especially in these times of the pandemic,” Thomas Wiersing, charge d’affaires of the European Union delegation to the Philippines, said in a digital press conference on Aug. 18.

Teatro Europa will feature seven plays to be performed by six theater groups from universities and colleges in Metro Manila every Friday and Saturday of September on the Teatro Europa Facebook page.

The plays were chosen because they were from European playwrights “who nurtured and shaped the foundations of European culture,” said Mr. Wiersing.

The plays are: The Green Room by Arnošt Goldflam (Czech Republic), to be performed by the Rizal Technological University; Tango by Sławomir Mrożek (Poland), to be performed by MINT College; Robbers by Friedrich Schiller (Germany), to be performed by MAPUA University; School for Wives by Molière (France), to be performed by the University of Makati; Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni (Italy) and The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest by Tirso de Molina (Spain), to be performed by the University of the East; Everyman by Hugo von Hofmannsthal (Austria), to be performed by Arellano University.

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Before each performance, an introduction to the play, the cast, and the participating university will be presented.

The performances are also to be produced virtually to ensure that the students will be properly distanced, a feat that presented difficulties in itself, according to MINT College theater director Dennis Marasigan.

“In the final performance, we are also prevented from having all the students in one place… and so we are being very creative in terms of presenting the performance of the play online,” Mr. Marasigan said during the conference.

He added that he’s the “first to admit that it is not exactly theater” as the performers and audiences are not in the same place, but that he hopes “that the performance that you will finally see will, at the very least, communicate the intent and elements of the play.”

“It is inspiring to see how our partner university theater organizations enthusiastically selected from the roster of European plays to interpret and perform online. It is admirable to witness that due to the pandemic they had to become more creative in their performances utilizing online streaming and meeting platforms,” Mr. Wiersing said.

The full schedule of the plays can be found on the Teatro Europa Facebook page. — Zsarlene B. Chua

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