Theater in August

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Friday, August 22, 2014


By Ching Pangilinan
Culturati

AUGUST is a truly august month for the theater arts in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, and I'm hoping the rest of the province as well. In the past two weeks I have watched two excellent productions and I’m looking forward to watching two more this coming week.

The Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center was jam-packed with thousands of high school students last August 14 when Hiraya Theater Production’s futuristic adaptation of the Filipino classic tale of Ibong Adarna, entitled Adarna 2088, came to town. Hiraya’s resident executive producer, also a very talented actor himself, is a native of Minalin, Pampanga, Mr. Rommel “Chaps” Manansala.

Hiraya’s “Adarna 2088” was top-billed by artists Joshua Zamora and Jopay Paguia who rendered outstanding performances in this new take on the Ibong Adarna story which placed the kingdom of Berbania in a a well-advanced and highly-civilized republic.

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Last August 20, I was equally amazed to catch the play “Sandosenang Sapatos” at the same venue. This time around, the musical adaptation of Luis Gatmaitan’s heartwarming story, was brought to the city by Gantimpala Theater Foundation. One of the directors of the musical play is from San Fernando and is an equally talented and respected television and theater thespian, my good friend kuya Andre Tiangco.

The audience for “Sandosenang Sapatos” were mostly pre-elementary and grade school students from all over the province. The colorful costumes and set, the interactive presentation, and the song numbers which were written in Filipino, were a big hit among the young ones and young once alike. Personally, I was impressed by the acting prowess of Bodjie Pascual (that’s kuya Bodjie from my childhood’s Batibot days) who played the shoemaker-father of Karina and Susie who was born without feet.

I enjoyed watching “Sandosenang Sapatos” because it speaks of values that are close to our hearts. The play reminds us not to give up to easily on our dreams and that life with all its challenges also offers us hope and happiness. I will definitely watch this play again when it comes back to San Fernando for a re-run and I will bring Sunis with me this time around.

During the Project Proposal Writing Workshop organized by Kapampangan Dance Guru Peter De Vera and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, I chanced upon some actors from Uyat Artista whose founding director is kuya Jason Pabalan, a veteran theater director from Angeles City. I’m looking forward to watching their adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde back-to-back with Sweeney Todd which is slated on August 23, 2014 at the Holy Family Academy Auditorium in Angeles City.

August 29 will also be the launching of the much-awaited musical production of “Atin Cu Pung Singsing” by Capampangan Empire Productions which is written and directed by filmmaker and theater artist Carlo Catu and top-billed by the beautiful and budding young actress Jardine Adams. The play will have its regular schedules at the Plenary Hall of Paskuhan Village, City of San Fernando, starting next month.

I am quite ecstatic with the presence of various theater productions in Pampanga, if it is any indication at all that art is alive in our province. While we have world-class theater facilities like those at the Holy Angel University and Angeles University Foundation, what I find lamentable is the lack of decent publicly-owned and maintained cultural centers that are designed for theater productions or performances. Our Bren Guaio Convention Center which was at par with national standards in the 1990s is now sadly outdated and in a desperate state. I hope that a province as rich as ours will also give importance to a genuine arts and culture program, with the wealth of talent Capampangans have.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 23, 2014.

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