The University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Arts and Sciences is staging “Banwa!” by Om Velasco, under Joey Ting’s direction.
“Banwa!” is a translation and adaptation of Edward Mast’s “Jungalbook,” a play adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories, “The Jungle Book.”
The book is a collection of stories dealing with Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle with the help of Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther, and his encounters with the tiger Shere Khan. First published in 1894, the book is now in the public domain and e-book versions can be downloaded for free from sites such as Gutenberg.org and Amazon.com.
Neil Gaiman’s children’s fantasy novel “The Graveyard Book,” is inspired by Kipling’s book while a popular adaptation is Disney’s 1967 animated musical film version of the same title. The movie was adapted for the stage in Chicago (premiering this past June) by Goodman Theater and Huntington Theater Company with book and direction by Mary Zimmerman.
Laws of the jungle
Mast’s play shifts the action of the Indian jungle to a children’s playground, while Velasco’s “Banwa!” transposes the adaptation to Filipino culture.
Mowgli is now Kawayan and he deals with inhabitants of the jungle such as kuwago (owl), buwaya (crocodile), musang (wild cat), unggoy (monkey), sawa (snake), elepante (elephant), uwak (crow), baboy ramo (wild boar), among others.
“In the Visayas region, ‘banwa’ means ‘town,’” says director Joey Ting. “The adaptation explores the parallels between the laws of the jungle and those of the human community.”
Ting has done directing work for the stage, television and events. Recent credits include Tagalog translations of Euripides’ “Elektra” and Harold Pinter’s “The Dumbwaiter.”
“It’s a play that talks about human survival and hope. The staging deals with territoriality, culture, folklore, ritual and the laws that bind the resident dwellers.”
Ting aims to incorporate “major influences from popular and traditional artistic forms” in his staging: “The evolving concept of Dadaism, contemporary pop art and culture, industrial and machine art installations, stylistic movement, techno-folkloric music combination, and circus-like elements and spectacle using kinesics (body motion), proxemics (interaction with space), and aero-dynamics (concept of flying and aerial stunts).”
Trevor Lim, Gife Laforteza and Ronald Paolo Luna alternate in the role of Kawayan.
Music is by Alfred Dalisay with movement and choreography by Jeremy dela Cruz. Set design by Janelle Cabrera and Renz Nollase, costume design by Maria Carina Quintos and Alecx Bagotsolon, lighting design by Karla Napay, and sound design by Julio Luna.
“Banwa!” runs Sept. 25-27 at Senior Social Garden, University of the Philippines-Los Baños, Laguna. Contact 0916-3390541 or 0906-8785837. Like on Facebook (“Banwa!”).