BESIDES the usual stories of friendship and romance, the Virgin Labfest’s entries this year include stories on social issues like extrajudicial killings and the effects of the seige of Marawi.
The 12 virgin — as in untried, untested, unstaged — plays will presented at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from June 27 to July 15.
Since 2005, the Virgin Labfest has been providing a stage for one-act plays with the potential to be developed into full-blown pieces, and for playwrights to tell their tales. Some of its “devirginized” plays have made the transition, and have been turned into films and musicals including Changing Partners, Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady, and Imbisibol.
“The Virgin Labfest has solidified itself as a viable platform for the continuous development of playwrights by not only devirginizing their plays, but by providing an avenue where the voice is given a top priority by encouraging them to churn out plays according to their desire without the trappings of imposed themes,” said the festival director, Tuxqs Rutaquio.
Besides the 12 plays, there will be four staged readings, and three revisited plays from the past VLFs, namely Birdcage, Sincerity Biker’s Club, and River Lethe.
Here are this year’s 12 virgin plays which will be presented in four sets:
• Mga Eksena sa Buhay ng Kontrabida by Dustin Celestino, directed by Roobak Valle. The playwright asks his audience: what is a villain? Through a collection of overheard conversations, the play tells the story of Jake, a violent and selfish kontrabida (villain). The people around him find ways to make him good.
• Mga Bata sa Selda 43 by Rolin Migyuel Cadallo Obina, directed by Ian Segarra. Believing that they have been kidnapped by aliens, brothers Philip and Ino’ plans of escaping and being reunited with their mother and grandmother are shattered when they meet Ed.
• Ang Inyong mga Anak: Si Harold at Napoleon by Anthony Kim Vergara, directed by Ricardo Magno. Inspired by the true story of a man named Napoleon who was murdered in Bataan, the play revolves around his classmate Harold who opens up a conversation with his mother about Napoleon. The dialogue between mother and son reveals their beliefs and political stands.
• Ang mga Propesyunal by Sari Saysay, directed by Carlos Siguion Reyna. Inspired by the real life story of a Malacañang-beat reporter who was banned from covering the President, the play is about Pia, a 10-year-old journalist, and her two friends, a doctor, and a police officer. The kids tell the difficulties of their chosen professions while learning about the deaths of innocent children and what democracy and freedom of expression mean.
• Rosas by J. Dennis Teodosio, directed by Charles Yee. Two men in an old folks home reminisce about their past, confront their present, and reveal their fears and hopes, while accepting their inevitable future. Before them, as the sun sets, a rose blooms silently as their witness.
• Edgar Allan Hemingway by Carlo Vergara, directed by George de Jesus III. A young writer finds fame but when his childhood friend suddenly shows up hoping to have the same success, an unexpected revelation provokes conversations on survival, ethics, and freedom.
• Labor Room by Ma. Cecilia “Maki” dela Rosa, directed by Jose Estrella. Three women — one having a baby and two facing the loss of their children — meet in the chaotic labor room of a public hospital. As they watch other mothers come and go, they forge a friendship and give birth to hope.
• Ensayo by Juan Ekis, directed by Eric Villanueva dela Cruz. Lolo Peds and Lola Tisha, both in their 60s, are in an acting workshop where they are required to share a kiss on stage. Lola Tisha suspects Lolo Peds is asking for a rehearsal before the play so he can have his way to her, while Lolo Peds accuses her of just being unprofessional. As the two work on their scene, they realized that they’re in for something more than just a rehearsal.
• Tulad ng Dati by JV Ibesate, directed by Olive Nieto. Two siblings meet again after a long time. But the supposedly happy reunion turns sour when their past resurfaces and they are forced to reveal their secrets.
• Amoy Pulbos ang mga Alabok sa Ilalim ng Tren by Lino Balmes, directed by Tess Jamias. Live-in partners Chona and Ramil live under a railroad. When a train passes by, the audiences are transported to a TV studio where Ramil joins the elimination round of the popular game show Pera o Bayong. And then, a different train arrives.
• Marawi Musicale by Tyron Casumpang, directed by Ariel Yonzon. Inspired by the playwright’s experience as a volunteer teacher in Marawi City after the seige, the musical, in essence, is about man versus noise. Amidst the immobilizing noise of gunshots, bombs, and air raids in an evacuation center, a different war is happening, one with hunger and pain. As the people inside make ends meet, they realize that music combats the noise.
• River Lethe by Allan Lopez, directed by Chris Martinez. Two cancer patients check into a motel where they explore their kinks and fetishes, their sex, and their hopeless medical condition.
Set A will have performances on June 27, July 6, 11, and 15, at 3 p.m., and on June 27, July 5, 10, and 14 at 8 p.m. Set B will have performances on June 28, July 1, 7, 12 at 3 p.m., and on June 28, July 6, 11, 15 at 8 p.m. Set C will have performances on June 29, July 4, 8, and 13 at 3 p.m., and June 29, July 1, 7, and 12 at 8 p.m. Set D will have performances on June 30, July 5, 10, and 14 at 3 p.m., and June 30, July 4, 8, and 13 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are available at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Ticketworld, (www.ticketworld.com). — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman