Virgin Lab Fest turns 15

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ANG Pag-Uulyanin Ni Olivia Mendoza

HAVING staged 257 new works by young playwrights and directors since its beginning in 2005, the Virgin Labfest, an annual theater festival which focuses on unpublished, untried, and unstaged one-act plays, returns for its 15th year in June.

Virgin Labfest (VLF), which was initiated by Writer’s Bloc and Tanghalang Pilipino, will run from June 19 to July 7 at various venues in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex.

“They (the audience) are willing to risk and [take] part in the experience, going out on a limb in terms of what kind of stories they might get,” CCP Vice-President and Artistic Director Chris Millado said at the press launch on May 22, describing the festival’s appeal to audiences.

With the theme “Titibok-tibok” (Pulsating), this year’s VLF will present 12 one-act plays which have been selected and curated from 207 manuscripts which were submitted as entries. Three plays from last year’s festival will also be revisited. There will also be staged readings.

The plays are grouped in sets which are shown successively, as are the staged readings.


The plays in Set A are Fangirl, written by Herlyn Alegre and directed by Charles Yee; Huling Hiling Ni Darling, written by Raymund Barcelon and directed by Ricardo Magno; and Isang Gabi Ang Buwan ay Hila-Hila ng Gula-Gulanit na Ulap, written by Ryan Machado and directed by Paolo O’Hara.

Set B features Unreachable Star, written by Layeta Bucoy and directed by Mara Marasigan; Anak Ka Ng, written by UZ Eliserio and directed by Maynard Manansala; and Wanted: Male Boarders, written by Rick Patriarca and directed by George De Jesus.

Set C features The Bride and The Bachelor, written by Dingdong Novenario and directed by Topper Fabregas; Surrogate, written by Dennis Teodosio and directed by Roobak Valle; and A Family Reunion, written by Anthony Kim Vergara and directed by Ian Segarra.

Set D’s lineup is composed of Ang Pag-Uulyanin ni Olivia Mendoza, written by Rolin Migyuel Obina and directed by Phil Noble; Larong Demonyo, written by Nicolas Pichay and directed by Jose Estrella; and Wala Nang Bata Dito, written by Sari Saysay and directed by Tanya Lopez.

The three revisited plays from last year’s VLF make up Set E. These are Allan Lopez’s River Lethe, directed by Chris Martinez; Carlo Vergara’s Edgar Allan Hemingway, directed by George De Jesus III; and Dustin Celestino’s Mga Eksena sa Buhay ng Kontrabida, directed by Roobak Valle.

For the featured staged readings, Sets A and B, named “Once They Were Virgins,” consist of the first works by known playwrights. Sets C and D feature new works.

Set A is made up of Jun Lana’s Rated X, directed by Dennis Marasigan, and Chris Martinez’s Freshman, directed by Kanakan Balintagos. Set B features by Liza Magtoto’s Pagsasarili, directed by Olive Nieto, and Chris Millado’s Intermedyo, directed by Baha Vergara.

Set C’s lineup is composed of Ang Pagbabalik at Paglisan, written by Karl Caminade and directed by Bong Cabrera; Multiverse, written by Juliene Mendoza and directed by Fitz Betana; and Mula Kina Cain at Abel, written by Mikaela Regis and directed by Yong Tapang.

Set D’s lineup is composed of Ang Pamabasang Impyerno ng Republika ng Pilipinas, written by Andrew Estacio and directed by Sari Saysay; Lit, written by Emmanuel Feliciano and directed by Eric Villanueva dela Cruz; and Mema, written by Joey Paras and directed by Chunchi Cabasaan.

In addition, a Playwright Fair will be held on June 29 at the CCP’s Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino Lobby where the audience may interact with playwrights and buy their works.

For the first time, the festival will travel out of Manila to explore talented playwrights and directors in other regions around the country.

The festival will be called the Extra Virgin Labfest and will carry the theme “Unang Puga” which will be held on Nov. 20 to 23 at the XU Little Theater in Cagayan de Oro’s Xavier University.

Regional festival director Hobart P. Savior said that the idea of bringing the festival to provinces was a suggestion he addressed to playwrights Rody Vera and Layeta Bucoy during a Sulat Dula workshop of Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts (XCCA).

As XCCA director at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, Mr. Savior observed that most of the plays showcased in Cagayan De Oro and nearby provinces are adaptations of western material. With the introduction of the theater festival in Mindanao, he hopes to “test the vitality of directors and also to formalize a stable of actors who could really put forward the culture of one act play or theater in Mindanao.”

Mr. Savior’s team recently gathered 10 manuscripts for evaluation but they are looking for more. The submission of entries for the Extra Virgin Labfest has been extended until June 30. Interested parties may send their plays by e-mail to Hobart Savior at with the subject “EVLF Submission.”

VLF tickets are available at the CCP Box Office and TicketWorld (, 891-9999). For ticketing information, call the CCP Marketing Department at 832-3706 or 832-3704 or e-mail the Sales and Promotions Division at — Michelle Anne P. Soliman