“WE DON’T make plays, we create experiences” is Sipat Lawin Ensemble’s tagline for its 2011 lineup. The group showcased excerpts of upcoming productions at the launch of their season.
The launch, held at Puerta del Sta. Lucia in Intramuros, began with Sisa (of Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere”) giving birth to 150 babies while facing San Agustin Church.
Audience members were given masks, made to make animal noises, tasked to interact and dance with SLE actors, and were even instructed to “kill” each other by secretly sticking their tongues out at their “victims.”
“Seventy-five people ‘died’ on the floor that night,” said artistic director JK Anicoche.
Interactive activities were meant to showcase the group’s brand of theater-making.
“SLE operates on themes of ‘Intervention. Inter-action. Invasion,’” he said.
This month, SLE will stage “Paglipas ng Limang Taon,” Rody Vera’s Tagalog translation of Federico Garcia Lorca’s “When Five Years Pass.”
Tuxqs Rutaquio will direct this play, which “tells the story of a Young Man who will finally marry his fiancée after waiting five years. However, when five years pass, his fiancée is no longer the same person he once knew.”
“This central narrative is disrupted by fantastic interludes. A Friend sings about the women who live in raindrops. A ghostly Boy and a slinky Cat discuss death. A Harlequin and a Clown sing of love. A Mannequin in a wedding dress mourns the son she’ll never have if the Young Man never marries,” said Anicoche.
Animals and lovers
In July, the group will restage their devised four-actor “Imperio Animalia” (adaptation of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”) directed by Anicoche, with production design by Don Salubayba. The production is usually staged in public areas that have a fountain.
The group’s “jejemon” comedy version of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is set to tour basketball courts in different barangays in August. SLE will conduct workshops in barangays and incorporate local talents (acting and backstage, including set, costume, props design) for unique performances.
This production is an evolution of a devised adaptation (to critical acclaim) by Dulaang Sipat Lawin, the resident theater group of Philippine High School for the Arts. It’s also been restaged by Tanghalang Pilipino.
The previous version was titled “R’meo Luvs Dew’lhiett” and used jologs language interspersed with National Artist for Theater Rolando Tinio’s Filipino translation.
“We’re working with playwright Layeta Bucoy and we’ve updated the title to ‘rOm3oW LUVZ juLz,’ to reflect our search of the quintessential language of this generation after the first decade of the 21st century,” said Anicoche. “Aside from ‘jejemon,’ we’ll also use fliptop, a form of rap battle done in the streets.”
In November, SLE will stage the musical “Manhid” by Auraeus Solito, to be directed by Rutaquio. The musical is about two groups of superheroes, one of which is employed by a demonic Minister of Humanity who plans on enslaving Filipinos with an epidemic of Kamanhiran.
“These opposing teams battle for the future of the Philippines,” said Anicoche.
“Manhid” was first staged in 1989 in which the defunct band Eraserheads first performed their hit song “Kailan.”
In January 2012, SLE is set to stage “Battalia Real,” based on the Japanese cult movie “Battle Royale” in which a group of students is forced to exterminate each other in a dystopian future.
“In the movie, 42 students are placed on an island with the instruction that after three days there should only be one survivor,” said Anicoche. “In our version, we will have 12 shows involving 12 university theater companies and one playground in the old prison cells of Intramuros.”
Available for booking by schools, offices and organizations is SLE’s touring comedy-musical “Pragres,” based on the short story “Progress” by National Artist for Literature F. Sionil José.
Set during martial law, “Pragres” is “a satire on lazy government employees and government bureaucracy as we follow the travails of Marina, a provincial senior clerk who goes to Manila to seek the endorsement of her promotion. As she encounters one bureaucrat after another (all played by one other actor), she drowns in incompetence and corruption.”
SLE now has season passes that start from P300. Depending on the category, passes can provide discounts for additional tickets; free drinks at certain shows; and even the opportunity to have dinner with the ensemble during one of their rehearsals.
“Paglipas ng Limang Taon” runs May 12-15. For venue and other details, call 0917-5008753 or 9645949.