Despite the lack of support from the administration and local government units for student-initiated art projects, the UPLB Communication Arts program continues to deliver provocative and engaging artistic and cultural acts. Theater arts students continue to call for accessible spaces for practice and performance – they have yet to receive a decent response from the administration.
Lagindab touches important aspects of human nature and Philippine society in the subtlest and most unexpected ways.
The comedic yet realistic acting, a precise yet symbol-laden script, and a basic yet accurate costume and props contribute the an overall experience that leaves the audience wondering how subtlety can be a weapon to lessen intimidation when discussing the heaviest social issues. Lagindab is a perfect inexpensive introduction to an engaging and accessible theater arts.
Orlando Nadres’ Paraisong Parisukat explores the sentiments and life of Isha – a provincial girl who works in a shoe store for seven years, whose life changes after meeting a new male colleague. Lagindab’s adaptation of the play was ambiguous at the start – a risky move as audiences would have a different impression. However, the impressive characterization gave depth and breadth to the issues that plague the characters of the play. While not explicit – the play highlights important class struggles faced by migrants in a city, and the neglected and silenced existential dilemmas faced by blue-collar workers. The beauty of this adaptation is that it does not bore nor does it stress the spectators whilst discussing and immersing them to the lives of minimum-wage earners (and possibly contractual) like Isha. Isha’s struggle is masked by the lively music, chaotic and colorful lives of her colleagues, a wandering boyfriend, and heartless boss. Despite the lack of administrative financial support, a rollercoaster of energy surges and plunges of actors, lapses in script memorization, and inconsistent and often overlapping music – the play brought to life a play that had many questions that will haunt many students upon their graduation. The conclusion was brief but it gave a glimpse of how life is bigger than a shoebox and brighter than golden medal, if one was given the chance and if one willed to get out.
A year ago, the Communication Arts students and faculty staged Bienvenido Noriega’s Bayan-Bayanan which breath comedy and joie-de-vivre in the lives of Overseas Filipino Workers – it was surprisingly followed by Lagindab’s staging of Bienvenido Noriega’s Idolong Romantiko. A play that was rich with context and representation – it discussed many sins and defects of a Filipino citizen that contribute to Philippine society’s demise. Lagindab did more than justice to Bienvenido Noriega’s play. Despite problems in impersonation – the profound and complicated personalities of the characters were delivered with flairs of comedy and sexual innuendos which made audiences relate to the characters quickly. Almost realistic with the moans, grunts, kissing sounds and sensual dances – the play resembled popular and engaging Filipino teleseryes yet with socially-relevant engaging scripts and themes. Albeit covering popular Philippine social cancers, Noriega is courageous to discuss sensitive issues such as rebellions and feudalism. Audiences should not miss how a simple production set was highlighted by lights and sounds. Perhaps satirical, the must-awaited conclusion provides the audience the whole point of the play – a Greek tragedy in the Philippine context. Overall, the play’s theme of justice was given what was due for it – justice.
Lagindab will have its last two shows later at NCAS Auditorium at 4pm and 7pm for PHP100.
Words by John Albert Pagunsan
Photos, courtesy of Lagindab’s Rey Perez