Monday, September 30, 2013

Dramarama: Boholano Drama is Alive!

Dulaang Kalinangan's version of ang Ang Unang Aswang by Palanca-award-winning playwright Rody Vera.
Drama is alive.

And kicking. It’s laughing, scoffing, weeping and wailing, screaming, growling, making jokes, laughing at its own jokes, staggers while doing it. 

Drama is so alive it’s making drama about it -- it is spitting expletives, yelling out superlatives, then stares at you, with piercing, smoldering eyes. 

(Fade light. Cue smoke effect.)

In Bohol, the Dulaang Kalinangan, the student theater company of the Bohol Island State University – Main Campus (BISU-Main) in Tagbilaran -- keeps the dramatics at fever pitch -- with its celebrated always-full-house annual Drama Festival.

Last September 23 to 27, Dulaang Kalinangan, in its Midyear Drama Festival, staged three (3) one-act plays penned by some of the country’s renowned playwrights: (1) Ang Bayot, ang Maranao, at ang Habal-Habal, their artistic rendition of Rogelio Braga’s Ang Bayot, ang Meranao, at ang Habal-Habal sa Isang Nakababagot na Paghihintay sa Kanto ng Lanao del Norte, (2) the New Yorker sa Tagbilaran, an adaptation of the New Yorker in Tondo by Marcelino Agana, Jr., and (3) Ang Unang Aswang by Palanca-award-winning playwright Rody Vera.

All directed by Dulaang Kalinangan’s Creative Director, noted Bol-anon thespian and stage director Jun Camacho, with a most promising set of student actors and production team, the 2013 Midyear Drama Festival delivered the dramatics (and the comedics!) worthy of a resounding standing ovation.  

The plays were staged daily, throughout the weeklong dramafest, at 1PM, 3Pm, and 5PM, in the order, as introduced above. 

 Ang Bayot, ang Maranao, at ang Habal-Habal, the Boholano university theater group's artistic rendition of Rogelio Braga’s witty social commentary Ang Bayot, ang Meranao, at ang Habal-Habal sa Isang Nakababagot na Paghihintay sa Kanto ng Lanao del Norte.

The first offering was the delightful Ang Bayot, ang Maranao, at ang Habal-Habal, the sharp and slick exchange of witticisms between the “bayot” visitor to the Mindanao town, and the habal-habal Meranao driver, which, at first, one hears as purely comedic and flirtatious banter (what with the rib-tickling superfast bayotspeak and flamboyant comedic delivery by Gerald Rodriguez) but really, comes as insightful social commentary on religious, sexual, racial discrimination, among others.

 The New Yorker sa Tagbilaran is their spot-on Tagbilaranon adaptation of the classic New Yorker in Tondo by Marcelino Agana, Jr.

The New Yorker sa Tagbilaran came next. The Tagbilaranon rendition of the classic comedy, the college-lit favorite and oft-adapted, New Yorker in Tondo, by Marcelino Agana, Jr. – was as slapstick as it should be satirical, employing movement motifs that emphasized the hilarious themes of play: the comic absurdity of cultural subsumption -- from a true-blue Tondo girl (here, Tagbilaranon) to New Yorker in a year’s stay in the big apple. Sadly, this still as relevant today as it was then, in 1958, when it first penned and staged. Blandill Mae Bulawan as Kikay/Francesca was pretty, witty, and absurdly funny – as with her cast mates.

The third play, aptly scheduled at the end of the day, nearing twilight, was Ang Unang Aswang by Rody Vera, which weaves an alternative tragic “origin” story of the legendary Filipino monster. Topbilled by Charmine Timogan, playing the titular aswang, Ang Unang Aswang was aptly dark, dramatic, repulsive, and spine chilling, with very well-delivered lines (despite the deep Tagalog). Even the masked actors playing the baboy ramo’s led by coven-leader Mary Rose Balili, shined in the mostly unlit set. 

Overall, Dulaang Kalinangan’s 2013 Midyear Drama Festival showed the maturity of the student theater group nurtured by creative director Jun Camacho. 

With BISU’s Dulaang Kalinangan, clearly, Boholano drama is alive!

The Dulaang Kalinganan of BISU-MC is Bohol's only active university theater group.

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