Drama’s not dead-A A +A
Sunday, August 25, 2013
STRINGS of fake remorse and predictable emotions are streaming in the radio airwaves for the masa to enjoy during siestas. Faceless dubbers are adjusting tones to suit the plot. Sometimes, a masculine voice is heard as feminine and vice versa.
Endings are left hanging to spare ears the thrill of the next episode. The story is concluded and another traditional piece is produced, either related to the previous one or something far-fetched.
The script goes on because in the local setting, radio dramas sell to Cebuanos. It’s a branded cultural thing and nobody can take it away from the people—not even the daily chore of pricking lice from a daughter’s nest of hair.
But does a regular labandera or barber know that drama is not just, and should not be limited, to air time? Are they aware of the rich literary sense behind the fiction or at least the alternative of it, gone trivial over radios?
For the longest time in, say 10 years, the first effort to salvage Cebu’s drama and playwriting scene was initiated by Women in Literary Arts-Cebu Inc. (Wila), backed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) through a grant.
“Dula sa Dila” might sound ambiguous but the seminar-workshop from Aug. 9 to 11 at the University of the Philippines Cebu College in Lahug only meant one thing: The beginning of a much-awaited revival of the dying drama sector in The Queen City of the South.
The project, which was coordinated by Shane Carreon, featured as speakers Palanca winners for play Glenn Sevilla Mas and Steven Patrick Fernandez, Cebuano playwright Rudy Aviles and theater virtuoso Orlando Magno.
The seminar was a fellowship of 70 participants—literature and drama enthusiasts including teachers, theater and guild mentors and students but the workshop boiled down to fellows (the term for drama and playwriting mentees) Msgr. Agustin Ancajas, Desiree Balota, Lorenzo Niñal and Reginald Michael Quirong of Cebu and Jessie Baldomaro and Benjie Beduya of Calbayog City.
Their pieces were critiqued by the panelists and were developed as outputs ready for staging. After all, a play is not a play until it is mounted.
According to Wila, the seminar-workshop was intended to promote literary and drama consciousness, and the nurturance of playwriting and play production among local writers and theater advocates.
The aim is to create plays of authentic Cebuano experience, written by Cebuanos, generally for Cebuanos and, as much as possible, in Cebuano.
“The time is right to reclaim what fell into oblivion so long ago,” said Haidee Palapar, literary arts coordinator of NCCA VII.
The advocate said the Cebuano drama and playwriting scene flourished in the 1950s and was famous in the 1980s. Although it continued in the 1990s, it was more of a school-based fraction of literature of a captive audience. The plays were only adaptations or translations of the original.
Palapar is hoping for a resurrection of the drama now that players are reviving a movement to carry on what was started in the past.
New York-based Cebuana playwright Linda Faigao-Hall, whose father is the witty Cornelio Faigao, recently launched a book and is said to be coming back to the country every year to support the local drama and play community.
Palapar said there are only a handful of Cebuano playwrights at present who are being challenged by the public’s interest, performance venues and the promotion of the craft itself.
Gathering potential playwrights into one, cultivating their competence and linking them with affiliates such as theater groups were recommended as initial action to address the situation.
“The marriage of written literature and live performance is not unlikely to happen. We have professional actors and are very good at that,” Palapar said.
She added that the playwright should not worry how the drama or play would turn out because just like songs, when the material is released, the creator is out of it. People make their own interpretation of it and that’s what validates the work.
Palapar said the Cebuano drama and playwriting scene is thriving amidst the influence of technology.
“Drama is literature. We had it before. It should not be in competition with digital media. If independent films are successful, why can’t plays be developed at the same time?” Palapar challenged.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 26, 2013.