UPLB’s “Teka Lang, Wait!” embraces time and space through online theatre

The words “time is gold,” albeit cliche, aren’t any truer for an artist. For forms like theatre and film, the art is always negotiating with time and space. Blink once and you already miss a millisecond of its entirety—a truth explored by “Teka Lang, Wait!”

Fresh off “Ang Unang Aswang,” students of UPLB’s BA Communication Arts (BACA) program came back with an online theatre festival which ran from August 17 to 23 via Facebook Live. “Teka Lang, Wait!” is composed of four different plays based on works by esteemed playwrights. It was produced by students from the BACA program’s midyear acting and directing classes, helmed by UPLB theatre instructor Prof. Elmer Rufo. The theatre festival also featured student-performers outside the BACA program and UPLB. 

The terminal truth of our human experience plays a central role in each play. Jerome Ignacio’s “Kublihan” explores the relationship of two friends Mike and Julio as they come to terms with one’s graduation, while Maynard Manansala’s “Dalawang Gabi” portrays a love that characters Debbie and Lester can never return to, even if they wanted. 

Both plays explore how most of our life is spent waiting, where truths we once meant dissipates to words left unsaid. But rather than rushing against time, the plays teach us to embrace and be patient with it. Life may run past us before we know it but that does not erase the infinite possibilities that still lie in between every second of our present.

However, our past still comes with a price to pay. Eliza Victoria’s “Ang Bahay sa Gitna ng Kawalan” warns us about the cycle of generational tragedy as Isabela succumbs to the same perils that haunted her parents, while Vladimeir Gonzales’s “Ang Awdisyon” forces us to reflect about the fleeting nature of time. In this metaplay, time is as delicate as our reality and as lurid as the ghosts of our past. 

Perhaps a part of human nature are things that may not necessarily change over time. “Teka Lang, Wait!” reminds us, however, to be deliberate with our present before it’s too late. After all, in the many ironies found in time, the biggest of them is the inevitable end of the future.

That time might be running out is also how it’s exactly for most incoming senior BACA students that spearheaded the festival. Though much has changed within the transition of live theatre to online platforms, they are still bounded not only by time but by their resources and spaces.

“I wish our courses would focus more on strengthening our knowledge on the very nature of what we do first before we’re instructed to produce,” says student-artist Roma Villareal, an incoming senior who also served as a co-director of “Dalawang Gabi.” 

The mid-year calendar also meant that everything—from conceptualization, development, and pre-production to rehearsals, recording, and editing—had to be done within a six-week timeframe. Raising funds and publicity for the play also came down to the shoulders of the students, who had to procure individual equipment needed for remote shooting. 

“It’s also hard kasi nabu-blur yung line between the language of film and theatre. So kapa-kapa talaga kami now. We’re still trying to figure out what makes [our productions] theatre, aside from how the text was written. (It’s also hard because the line between the language of film and theatre is starting to blur. So we’re really groping the situation now. We’re still trying to figure out what makes [our productions] theatre, aside from how the text was written),” adds Villareal.

For years, UPLB’s theatre community has fought for substantial support from the administration that requires these productions in the first place. But before they can even settle in a permanent space inside the campus, most BACA students were already forced to look for more alternatives with the onslaught of the pandemic. And now, they are almost graduating. 

As humans, it is true that we spend most of our life in liminal spaces, as if waiting for the inevitable end. “Teka Lang, Wait” is a manifestation of that truth about our present, especially within the confines of the current health and political crisis. But although our lives as artists are not meant to be endless, there’s comfort in knowing that our art is.

“Teka Lang, Wait!” is still available to stream on Facebook here[P]

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