The arts have always played a pivotal role in the lives of the Cebuanos. Whether it be the visual arts, poetry and writing, or performance arts, people have always held an affinity for all of them. After all, it is the arts and humanities that nurture the soul and culture of a people.
The theater scene in Cebu is currently a growing and thriving environment. After the pandemic, the first stagings of musicals and plays were symbolic; perhaps a signpost that the Cebuano theater scene was back and here to stay.
“Panagtipon: A Celebration of Cebuano Theater” opened its doors on March 9 for its first week, featuring a play and two dance musicals. Established in 2020, Panagtipon aims to keep Cebuano theater alive and thriving. In the simplest words possible, it was enthralling.
“Dinhi Na Lang Kutob ug Daghang Salamat” was a journey of self-discovery, a story that would make you question your morals and rethink the way you once perceived things. A narrative-driven play, “Dinhi Na Lang Kutob” excites and delivers its points with little to no reservations.
“Desaparecido: The Father Romano Story” was a brave retelling of one of the many cases of enforced disappearances during the martial law era, done through well-choreographed dance routines. The movements, in sync with lights and coordinated sounds, created a world that immersed the audience, bringing them back to an age of fear and suppression. Interestingly, “Desaparecido” was directed by a 12th grader from the University of Cebu Senior High School, further proving that talent knows no age and our own homegrown theater artists, directors and future playwrights have the capacity to stage musicals and performances that deserve to be staged in larger platforms.
After “Desparecido,” the performance smoothly transitioned to “Escalante Massacre,” a story of Negrenses massacred in 1985, marked by historians as one of the last major acts of brutality of the Marcos regime. Set in an era of farmers and a time before their demise, “Escalante Massacre” provides its audience an unsettling sense of reality; the history of the Philippines is bloody, and that we cannot simply turn our backs to it.
The attention to detail brought by the directors and everyone involved in the play makes the love for their craft even more evident. The actors poured just as much, playing their bits to their end with full dedication to their craft. Witnessing a platform like “Panagtipon” as a chance for young and seasoned actors, playwrights and directors to spread their wings to their full breadth is a hopeful beacon for the future of theater in the city.
The second week’s run started on March 16, featuring one act play “Bisikleta,” “Emancipating Julia,” and “Pagdagsang.” The only full act play in the roster, “Paglangkub sa Yawa,” is set to have its run starting Wednesday, March 29.