9 new plays, 4 ‘virgin’ playwrights | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

“ISA PANG Soap Opera”
“ISA PANG Soap Opera”

This year’s Virgin Labfest will present 10 new works: three sets of one-act trilogies and one full-length (two-act) play at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). (See lineup below.)

Now on its eighth year, the Labfest is “a venue for playwrights, directors and actors to bring to life ‘untried, untested, unpublished and unstaged’ plays.”

Tuxqs Rutaquio is the new artistic director, taking over from Rody Vera, who founded the festival through Writer’s Bloc, a playwright’s group, and Tanghalang Pilipino, CCP’s resident theater company.

This year’s funding is partially provided by CCP and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Young, new

“The Labfest has grown in popularity and reputation through the years among audi ences, teachers and theater artists,” says Rutaquio.

“We’ve heard from groups from the regions which have made it an annual tradition to come to Manila to watch. Some groups have been consulting with us to see if they can create a similar event in their region.”

Submissions were screened and shortlisted by Rutaquio, Vera and actress Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino.

“We read all submission over the summer break. Most show promise but still need work on technical aspects like structure. We plan on writing back the playwrights whose works weren’t chosen for the festival this year, with notes to give them advice.”

He notes that submissions this year were mostly from playwrights in their late 20s. “This is a good sign. It means we have young playwrights out there who are creating works.”

Out of the nine featured plays, four playwrights are “virgin” to the Labfest: Em Mendez (“Ang Unang Regla ni John”); Guelan Luarca (“Kuneho”); Mar Anthony de la Cruz (“Hayop”); and Aizel Cabilan (“Pagsubli”), with De la Cruz and Cabilan having written their first plays ever.


Out of the 77 submissions this year, 16 are full-length plays. The festival started staging full-length plays last year and continues this year with “Totong Hilot,” written by José Dennis Teodosio and directed by Roobak Valle.

Teodosio has had his works performed in all previous Labfests, up to two per festival in some years, except last year, for a total of nine one-acts. He is no longer allowed to submit one-acts to the fest.

“This is my 18th full-length play, but my first full-length for VL,” says Teodosio. “I write plays because it’s cathartic.”

Rutaquio says: “Eventually there are plans to stage more full-length plays and reduce the number of one-acts for the festival.”

The festival usually features a set of trilogies from the previous year. This year’s “revisited” set includes: “Kawala” written by Rae Red and directed by Paolo O’Hara; “Evening at the Opera” by Floy Quintos, directed by Jomari José; and “Kafatiran” by Ricardo Novenario, directed by JK Anicoche.

There is no children’s set this year due to lack of entries.

“ANG UNANG Regla ni John”

This year’s festival resurrected its Playwriting Fellowship Program for college students taught by Glenn Mas; with a script-writing workshop, lectures, discussions and script critiquing.

Selected lectures and discussions are open to the public.


“We were able to get funding this year for the program,” says Rutaquio. “Hopefully, it will become a permanent part of the festival in the future. The program is part of VL’s desire to train young aspiring playwrights. The festival has produced provocative and outstanding ‘virgin’ plays that have been recognized by the Palanca Awards for Literature.”

Accepted applicants will be given access to this year’s selected rehearsals as part of their mentorship and interactions with known playwrights, directors and selected actors. The program concludes in a staged reading of the fellow’s works on the last day of the fest.

The 8th Virgin Labfest runs June 27-July 8, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City. Call 8321125.

Virgin Labfest 8 show schedules


June 27, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. /

July 7, 3 p.m. / July 8, 8 p.m.

“Pagsubli” by Aizel Cabilan, directed by Melvin Lee; “Symposium” by U Eliserio and Maynard Manansala, directed by JK Anicoche; “Digital Divide” by Ricardo Novenario, directed by Andoy Ranay


June 28, 3 p.m. and 8pm /

July 7, 8 p.m. / July 8, 3 p.m.

“Hayop” by Mar Anthony de la Cruz, directed by Erik Matti; “Ang Unang Regla ni John” by Em Mendez, directed by George de Jesus; “Isa Pang Soap Opera” by Reuel Aguila, directed by Dennis Marasigan


June 29, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. /

July 4, 3 p.m. / July 6, 8 p.m.

“Alejandro” by Chuckberry Pascual, directed by Roeder Camanag; “Kuneho” by Guelan Luarca, directed by Emman de la Cruz; “High Stakes” by Mixkaela Villalon, directed by Ron Capinding

SET D (Full-length play)

June 30, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. /

July 4, 8 p.m. / July 5, 3 p.m.

“Totong Hilot” by José Dennis Teodosio, directed by Roobak Valle

SET E (Virgin Labfest 7 Revisited)

July 1, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. /

July 5, 8 p.m. / July 6, 3 p.m.

“Kawala” by Rae Red, directed by Paolo O’Hara; “Evening at the Opera” by Floy Quintos, directed by Jomari José; “Kafatiran” by Ricardo Novenario, directed by JK Anicoche

Staged readings

June 29, 6 p.m.

“Lovestory” by Carlo Pacolor Garcia

July 4, 6 p.m.

“Walang Kukurap” by Layeta Bucoy

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