Monday, July 9, 2012

Virgin Labfest 2012 at the CCP

I REMEMBER how surprised and daunted Renan Laruan was — one of my brother's housemates, also an old friend from our side of the country — when he learned that he qualified as a writing fellow for the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Virgin Labfest Writing Fellowship Program. The mentorship was to last for two weeks, to be facilitated by the playwright Glenn Mas to inspire budding writers to pursue theater.

I, on the other hand, felt like it was bound to happen somehow. Renan is the artsy-farsty kind of guy, having recently qualified into an art history program at the University College London, worked as an intern at a recent art fair in Hong Kong with a European company, and apprenticed at a Philippine art restoration project. He lives and breathes art. On his study table are old books on art, photography, and philosophy. Even the pieces of literature he reads are hard to understand — he introduced me to David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon, and I would frequently see him reading books and essays that would otherwise lull me to sleep or leave me wondering, "Did I just not get that?"

When Renan gave me the invitation to watch a stage reading of his play, A More Intelligent Life, I knew I had wanted to come. How long has it been since I had seen anything remotely related to theater? Ah, the tragedy of being stuck in the hospital. I told him that if my Sunday afternoon was going to be free (i.e., no 24-hour E.R. duty), I would come and support him.

Last Sunday was the scheduled stage reading of the ten plays of the young writing fellows, many of them in the 20-25 year-old age bracket. It was held at the CCP Bulwagang Amado Hernandez, and it was, believe it or not, my first time to be at the CCP.

I came in late, a little bit after the first play had started, and found an empty seat just beside the center stage.  My brother, Renan, and Kuya James were at the other side.

Renan's came in fifth, the only play written mostly in English. I enjoyed his Murakami fanatic, methamphetamine-addicted character, clearly inspired by the playwright's fascination for the series Breaking Bad. I'm still not sure if I got what the play really meant, but I enjoyed it.

The other plays ranged from funny to dramatic, reflecting the diversity of interests and life experiences of the writers (albeit the fact that more than half of them come from UP): two women talking at a coffee shop that didn't have coffee and tea available; a sosyal college student who rushed to the bathroom to defecate and realized there wasn't any toilet paper available; and a mother-and-son story which brought many in the audience to tears. The story about two men trapped in a cave depressed me.

You can disagree with me on this, but I think a show is only just as good as the people who watch it. The crowd last night was easy to please and was very appreciative. I could hear people howling in laughter or dabbing their eyes or taking photographs quietly. I even saw familiar faces from way back, like Mike, one of the designers and co-owners of Paradigm Shift clothing company, and Eugene who was my classmate in Geography. What a small world it is.

* * *

I'M SHARING poorly taken snapshots of the performances last night.

Two wounded men were trapped inside a cave, and there was no other way out.

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

One of them committed suicide. It was depressing.

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

Two lesbian lovers were arguing about a children's book and the mess at home.

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

The mother-and-son story I was talking about moved the audience to tears.

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

A policeman plays chess with another man. The play ends with the policeman pointing a gun at his opponent. I don't remember exactly who won the game.

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

The actors were acknowledged at the end of the show. I'm afraid I don't know their names, but they were good! For some reason, they remind me of my Kalayaan dormmate Skysyz Labastilla who's a talented stage actor.

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

The young writing fellows.

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

Congratulations, Toto Renan, for a job well done!

Virgin Labfest 2008 at the CCP

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Blogger razel said...

Wow! Ang galing naman ni Renan! Congrats :)

Tue Jul 10, 01:48:00 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inspired of what the author has accomplished by now. I do really love art in all ways. :) Hoping that someday I might have my break like his.

Tue Jul 10, 05:23:00 PM GMT+8  

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