Dexter Santos, artistic director, Dulaang UP: 2015 has been a great year for Philippine theater. For 2016, I pray for only better things to come, specifically:
1) Aside from Broadway musicals, Western classics and contemporary theater, I wish to see more original Filipino works breathe life on stage;
2) More opportunities to be given to young playwrights and storytellers who have amazing ideas. We have a lot of young artists who are brave and crazy enough to gamble and risk. They deserve to be heard;
3) More collaboration, networking and hybrid efforts among theater companies and practitioners. We can learn from each other and explore possibilities together;
4) More theater companies but more reasonably priced theater venues;
5) More producers who are willing to invest in the theater;
6) More regional and community theater groups to go on center stage and share their work with a bigger audience;
7) Workshops, conferences, discussions or a simple get-together for all Filipino theater artists, whether professional, university, regional or community-based; and
8) That Philippine theater would continue to be alive and diverse, break more boundaries, disturb more minds and inspire more people.
Steven Fernandez, founder-artistic director, Integrated Performing Arts Guild, Mindanao State University-Iligan: That theater in the regions be in the consciousness of the nation, made possible when the capital (Manila) shares its media, print and broadcast machinery. That Manila be generous with substantial support from government and the private sectors. That the regions be provided better opportunities to avail themselves of these resources to produce their equal share of productions that manifest the genius of the Filipino theater-maker. And that from region-based theater will flow the rills that fill up the mainstream, thus signifying the real picture of a robust National Theater.
George De Jesus III, playwright-actor-director; founder, Egg Theater Company: I wish that all productions next year, particularly the locally produced ones, have full houses every show, and that we get to attract and sustain new theatergoers.
Bobby Garcia, artistic director, Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group: I hope 2016 brings even greater diversity to Philippine theater with more theater companies opening and producing the kind of shows they believe in. Filipino and English plays, OPM and Broadway musicals, environmental and found space theater, fringe and theater festivals—it is diversity that makes for an exciting, thriving theater industry. May 2016 be a year of great fulfillment for theater producers, theater artists and audience members alike.
Ricky Abad, former artistic director, Tanghalang Ateneo: I wish Philippine theater will capture new energies, looking to our own heritage or to other unexplored practices as sources of inspiration for text, movement, design and audience engagement—and, as well, for the Philippine theater community to support such efforts.
Rody Vera, playwright-actor-director; former artistic director, Virgin Labfest: For 2016, more playwrights given a chance to fulfill their vision. More theater companies to invest in new material and new original works. More investment in script development. And more playwrights to venture into larger ideas for full-length plays.
Liza Magtoto, playwright: I wish for more thought-provoking plays, more risk-takers, more daring producers, more financial support for the theater, and an industry that gains bigger audiences and wider public support.
Roeder Camañag, actor-director; artistic director, Artist Playground: More audiences for theater, and blockbuster productions for all the theater companies!
Maribel Legarda, artistic director, Peta: To keep on doing what we are doing with more passion, commitment and creativity, and, thereby, hopefully we can continue to engage our audiences and expand their numbers and support.
Alexander Cortez, former artistic director, Dulaang UP: Perhaps a serious plan or strategy to make theater truly an industry. If a theater company considers itself a professional one, then it should work like one!
Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, actor-director; president, Original Pilipino Performing Arts Foundation: More platforms for original Filipino works. We have such a plethora of talent here, and it would be nice to discover more shows on native soil that further prove we are of the same caliber as the big international productions.
Ed Lacson Jr., director-production designer; theater manager, Power Mac Center Spotlight: More platforms for dialogue with theatergoers on our practice—how a work is pulled apart, dissected, put back together. Why certain decisions are made, or why not. Or why do it at all? I want our work questioned. An informed audience is a critical audience. I want us to create a community of discerning consumers.
Robert Seña and Isay Alvarez-Seña, actors-founders, Spotlight Artists Centre: That we can finally mount our next original Filipino musical by September 2016, and that we can attract more benefactors and audiences.
Nicolas Pichay, playwright: I wish for a theater that will constantly find an enthusiastic, critical and paying audience.
Chris Millado, playwright-director; artistic director, Cultural Center of the Philippines: More venues for the arts; more support from both private and public sectors for audience development and outreach; and a future President who taps into the immense artistic assets of Filipinos by creating policies to support the arts.
Vince De Jesus, actor-composer-playwright: Along with existing plays and reruns, I wish for more original productions, both in English and Filipino. Let’s all push the envelope much further, outside of our comfort zone, and create fresh and vibrant shows. Also, I wish more and more actors would cross borders and work with other theater companies because it makes the theater community, in my opinion, stronger and united.
Rem Zamora, actor-director; cofounder, Red Turnip Theater: I wish more people would make watching live theater a habit.
Audie Gemora, actor-director; president, Philstage: That more people will come to the theater and watch and enjoy the wonderful array of productions our local companies put out. I wish all theater companies will unite and support our industry. I wish government will allot more budget for the arts, starting with CCP, which badly needs rehabilitation. And I wish government will require foreign theater productions to pay equity like they require of foreign shows in the US.
Robbie Guevara, actor-director; founder-artistic director, 9 Works Theatrical: You know what would be nice? Bigger audiences and longer-running shows, so ticket prices go down.
JK Anicoche, actor-director; artistic director, Sipat Lawin Ensemble: I wish for more support in developing new works. I dream of more platforms for experimentation where emerging artists can fail fast and learn faster, along with support for each other. Also, more informed and critical discourse on theater. Mabuhay!
Nanding Josef, actor; artistic director, Tanghalang Pilipino: For Philippine theater to continue to showcase the best works of the brightest Filipino theater artists. A special wish is for the most outstanding regional theater artists to be given similar opportunities for exposure and appreciation as those afforded Manila-based productions.
The tapestry of Philippine theater will not be complete without the contributions of artists from other parts of the country. Peta had the Makiisa festival in the ’80s that featured the best regional theater groups. In 1992, as head of the CCP’s Dramatic Arts Division, I initiated Unang Tagpo, the first CCP National Theater Festival. There were three others that followed in four-year intervals, if I’m not mistaken. We should come together again soon.
My other wish is for the national government, the big corporations and the general public to collectively give their support to socially relevant Philippine theater, and to Philippine arts and culture in general. I hope all these can materialize for us so we can achieve a genuine cultural renaissance, which, I think, is the key strategy needed to transform our country into a more humane, responsive society.
Lutgardo Labad, founder-artistic director, Kasing Sining Foundation and Teatro Bol-anon, Bohol: I wish our Cockpit and Riverside Theaters in Bohol would continue to grow and create sustainable productions for tourists, students and communities, with sweeping and far-reaching results in new playwriting, engaging theater creation and alternative culture-based livelihoods.
Bart Guingona, actor-director; founder-artistic director, Actor’s Actors, Inc.: I wish for enlightened, exposed, politically active audiences (lots of them) that are fully engaged not only in the theater but also in the socio-political-economic life of not just our country but of the world. A happy new year is an enlightened one. Happy 2016!
Guelan Luarca, playwright-actor: I wish for the continuing vitality of the local theater scene, for artists to be financially and mentally stable, for integrity, creativity, vigor, and—for my graduation! Please Lord!