Andres Bonifacio is popularly called “The Father of the Philippine Revolution.” He was a founding member and, later, Supremo (“supreme leader”) of the Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Highest and Most Respected Society of the Country’s Children), a secret revolutionary society that fought for independence from Spanish colonial rule.
His colorful life has inspired several works in the performing arts—fitting, in a way, because Bonifacio was a part-time actor who performed in moro-moro productions. He joined Samahang Dramatista ng Tundo and founded El Teatro Porvenir or Teatro Circo de Porvenir (depending on different sources).
To commemorate Bonifacio’s birth sesquicentennial (Nov. 30), several theater groups are staging productions about him. Three will be staged in November this year and one in 2014.
Film and television director Joel Lamangan co-directs Gantimpala Theater’s musical version of Bonifacio Ilagan’s 1978 Cultural Center of the Philippines Playwriting Contest-winning (first place) “Katipunan: Mga Anak ng Bayan.”
“We want to make it relevant [for current audiences] in terms of music and movement. This is all sung through and fast. We’ll also show the role of women in the struggle, the internal conflicts that weakened the Katipunan,” says Lamangan.
The production has music by RJ Jimenez and lyrics by Ilagan and Jeffrey Camañag. It stars Sandino Martin as Bonifacio, with Anna Fegi and Rita de Guzman alternating as Bonifacio’s wife Gregoria “Oryang” de Jesus.
Lamangan is Gantimpala’s new artistic director (following the death of founding artistic director Tony Espejo). Lamangan was in the cast of “Katipunan,” Gantimpala’s inaugural production in 1978.
Jun Pablo co-directs. Costume design by Pablo, set design by Sonny Aniceto and lighting design by Ninya Bedruz.
“Katipunan: Mga Anak ng Bayan” runs in Manila on Nov. 20 to 22 at Armed Forces of the Philippines Theater, Quezon City; Nov. 29 at Bonifacio High Street Open Field, Makati City; and Nov. 30 at Taguig University. It tours Cavite City on Dec. 7 at Montano Hall.
Contact 9985622/8720261 for Manila shows and 09162759938 for Cavite shows.
Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas
Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas stages Tim Dacanay’s 2006 Palanca Award-winning play (second place, Dulang Ganap ang Haba category), “Teatro Porvenir: Ang Katangi-tanging Kasaysayan ni Andres Bonifacio, Macario Sakay at Aurelio Tolentino sa Entablado.”
“It is a re-imagining of the history of the Katipunan through an amalgamation of myth and literature, history and religion,” says DUP artistic director Alex Cortez, who is directing the production. “The play highlights Bonifacio as artist.”
Romnick Sarmenta and Russell Legaspi alternate as Bonifacio while Jean Judith Javier, Karen Guerlan and Emerald Bañares alternate as De Jesus.
Choreography by Angel Baguilat, Filipino martial arts choreography by arnis expert Bot Jocano, and komedya batalla movement by Jess Macatuggal and Grace Jaramillo. Costume design by Nimrod Sta. Ana, set design by Faust Peneyra, and sound design by Jethro Joaquin.
“Teatro Porvenir” runs Nov. 20 to Dec. 8 at Wilfrido Guerrero Theater, 2nd floor, Palma Hall, University of the Philippines, Quezon City.
Contact 9261349, 9818500 local 2449, and 4337840.
Tanghalang Pilipino stages a modern Filipino opera in Filipino, “San Andres B,” with music by Chino Toledo and libretto by National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario.
To be directed by Floy Quintos, the production will feature tenor Dondi Ong as Bonifacio and soprano Margarita Rocco as De Jesus. Ong alternated in the role of Ubaldo Piangi in last year’s Manila run of a touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.”
“‘San Andres B’ is by no means a historical account of Bonifacio’s life. Rather, it is Almario’s imagistic and evocative interpretation of Bonifacio’s internal struggles. Toledo’s jagged and riveting score captures this internal struggle,” says Quintos.
Sound design by Aji Manalo, choreography by Kris Belle Paclibar-Mamangun, costume design by James Reyes, set design by Eric Cruz and lighting design by Jay Aranda.
“San Andres B” runs Nov. 29 to Dec. 8 at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Contact 0917-7500107 or 0908-8941384.
University of the Philippines-Los Baños
In 2014, Joey Ting will direct Layeta Bucoy’s “Bonifacio Freak Show,” a black comedy about a group who wants to join the Katipunan but have a problem: the blood pact initiation is done at night—when this group turns into different halimaw such as manananggal, tiyanak, duwende and tikbalang.
The production will be staged by UPLB’s Office of the Initiatives for Culture and Arts for the Southern Tagalog Arts Festival 2014 and 2014’s National Arts Month in February. Music by Angel Dayao, set and costume design by Louie Navarro, and video design by Rudyard Pesimo.
“Bonifacio Freak Show” runs Feb. 19 to 21 at Dioscoro Umali Auditorium, UP Los Baños, Laguna.