A roundtable meeting is “a venue for intellectual discussion among the academe, students, playwrights, directors, media and anyone interested in theater,” said Jeffrey Hernandez, council master of the University of the Philippines Theater Council.
He added: “We have a responsibility to the audience to explain our craft, to touch lives and bring them back to the reality of life. We do art for the people we love, and in a larger sense for the country.”
That statement opened the press launch of Dulaang UP’s 39th season, held recently at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater in UP Diliman, Quezon City. The theme running through the five plays that will be presented, in Filipino as well as English, until February next year is “Regaining Dignity.”
The plays in the season are Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure/Hakbang sa Hakbang” (with Filipino translation by Ron Capinding), Aug. 20-Sept. 7, directed by DUP artistic director Alexander Cortez; Floy Quintos’ “Ang Huling Lagda ni Apolinario Mabini,” directed by Dexter M. Santos, Oct. 1-19; William Wycherley’s “The Country Wife/Ang Misis kong Promdi,” with Filipino translation by Nicholas B. Pichay, Nov. 19-Dec. 7; and Rody Vera’s “Bilanggo ng Pag-ibig,” inspired by the works of Jean Genet, the novelist-playwright who best exemplified the French spirit of succès de scandale.
“The Country Wife” will be directed by Tony Mabesa, “Bilanggo ng Pag-ibig” by José Estrella.
All the plays will be staged at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater (call 9261349, 4337840 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Dark, messy play
Although “Ang Huling Lagda ni Apolinario Mabini” is the only play with a Filipino theme (a musical at that, and is of great interest to history buffs), “Measure for Measure/Hakbang sa Hakbang” appears to be the pièce de résistance of the season. During the discussions, panelists Cortez, Santos, Judy Celine Ick, Marvin Olaes and Sigmund Pecho paid close attention to this work, and provocative scenes from the play were performed by Delphine Buencamino and Cedrick Juan in Filipino, and Cindy Lopez and Tarek El Tayech in the original English.
“For many years this play was seldom performed—indeed, even forbidden … that few cared or dared to take the risk,” wrote England’s poet laureate John Masefield in the book “Wm. Shakespeare.”
“Measure for Measure,” which runs until Sept. 7, is about decadence, corruption and hypocrisy in a dukedom. The hypocritical Angelo condemns Claudio, a young nobleman, to death for having premarital relations with his fiancee. Claudio’s virtuous sister, Isabella, a postulant, pleads for his brother’s life. Angelo agrees, on condition that Isabella will submit to his advances.
“The play is dark, funny, messy, a problem play,” said dramaturg Ick. “It defies classification; it’s exactly like life. It was written during an uncertain period in England. It gives you much to think about.”
“Some of the translation may not be as powerful as the original,” said Cortez. “But the theme will not vary, whether it is in English or in Filipino.”
“In fact, there is more clarity if it is in Filipino,” Ick noted. “Shakespeare is truly global.”