2nd Manila Int’l Improv Festival runs June 25-30 | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Peta artistic director Maribel Legarda with SPIT founder Gabe Mercado
Peta artistic director Maribel Legarda with SPIT founder Gabe Mercado

The Silly People’s Improv Theater (SPIT) has been around for slightly more than a decade now, chalking up more than 500 performances here and abroad with their jokes, puns, double-entendres, spoofs, skits, what-have-you, all improvised, unscripted, unrehearsed and totally spontaneous shows.


And to celebrate their 11th anniversary, SPIT will hold the 2nd Manila International Improv Festival 2013 from June 25-30 at the Peta Theater Center in Quezon City (at the back of the Quezon City Sports Club in E. Rodriguez Ave.).


The festival (www.facebook.com/spitmanila) will include workshops as well as shows by the participating People’s Liberation Improv and 3 Dudes Improv (Hong Kong), Beijing Improv, Taichung Improv (Taiwan), Xiamen Improv, Zmack (Shanghai), Pirates of Tokyo Bay, and SPIT Manila.


This was announced at a recent press conference at the Aristocrat Restaurant in Jupiter Street, Makati City. Maribel Legarda, artistic director of Peta (Philippine Educational Theater Association), said the festival represented “a major thrust to bring other organizations into a partnership with Peta.”


In a revealing statement distributed during the press conference, Gabe Mercado, artistic director of the festival and SPIT founder, declared: “The past year has seen a lot for SPIT—members coming and going, romances kindled, relationships and marriages failing, quarrels and walkouts … babies, children, tears, heartaches, deep friendships and yes, much laughter.”


Vintage act


Aryn Cristobal and three other SPIT members in action

The press con itself was vintage SPIT, wacky and “participatory,” with statuesque SPIT member Aryn Cristobal working the large crowd of media persons present.


“We want everyone to act as one group,” she announced. Questions were thrown to the media, like “What are we proud of in the Philippines?”


The replies could barely be heard above the din. One said “bagoong” (fish paste), others said “tea” (tea? Why not coffee?), “duhat,” “islands” and the more patriotic “Lupang Hinirang” (the national anthem).


Then the audience was told to come up with a word that begins with a “V” (someone said Visayas) and “X” (I shouted Xerex but nobody heard because of the noises).


Then the SPIT members joined in, doing mini-skits for “K” (kinakabahan ako or I’m nervous), “I” (impostor ba ito?) and, reductio ad absurdum, “korek!” for the letter “K.”


A female member acted out and spoke in a fractured language purporting to be Vietnamese, with a male colleague laboriously translating it into English.


Corporate shows


The group occasionally does corporate shows, which at one time led to an awkward situation. They were asked to do a show for a group of factory workers who, it turned out, had been laid off. It was a farewell party for them!


When one worker asked “makatarungan ba ang ginagawa nila sa amin? (was what they did to us just?),” Mercado was nonplussed.


“We didn’t know what had happened,” he said. And so, from then on, whenever asked to do a corporate gig, SPIT asks management: Is there something we should know?


During the open forum, Mercado said “anyone can improvise but not everyone has the quality we want to project on stage.”


Asked how the group saw itself 10 years from now, the SPIT founder said: “We will continue to perform. More and more we will train alternatives that will replace us, but we will still be around.”