Life is a cycle, a dreadful one of violence and sadism, and even the innocent and idealistic get sucked in. This may be one of the lessons to be drawn from Tanghalang Ateneo’s “Ako: Alpha Kappa Omega,” an intense, free-wheeling adaptation by director Guelan Varela-Luarca of Mike de Leon’s classic film “Batch ‘81. ”
There are interlocking stories here about troubled young men and women within a harsh frat culture. But the play begins and ends with neo-fascist initiation rites, with the neophytes later becoming masters who will inflict the same punishment on the next batch of neophytes.
Repertory Philippines’ prestige play for 2019 is “The Dresser” by Ronald Harwood, directed by Loy Arcenas, about a valiant Shakespeare company presenting “King Lear” while bombs are raining down on London during World War II; Teroy Guzman and Audie Gemora delivered bravura performances.
The arts plod on even in a time of turmoil. As the American writer Katherine Anne Porter declared in 1940, incidentally the time of the play, “the arts are what we find when the ruins are cleared way.”
“The Met Opera in HD” (Greenbelt 3, Makati), a project of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, began in January with Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” and ended in June with Bellini’s “Norma,” set in Gaul in 50 B.C., with the Druids in revolt against Roman oppression. It is the tragic story of the Druid priestess Norma (Sandra Radvanovsky) and her passion for Pollione (Joseph Calleja) who is in love with a younger priestess, Adalgisa (Joyce Didonate) .
The opera series is expected to resume later this year.