Tanghalang Pilipino is staging “Walang Kukurap,” a suspense thriller about the pervasive shady politics and unethical business practices in the Philippines today.
Suzette Ranillo plays Cristina, a first-time vice mayor candidate who is sucked into corruption, deceit and murder.
“We always connect corruption with the big fish, like the case of former Chief Justice [Renato] Corona as an example, but what’s more frightening are the corruption done by the ‘small fish’—the towns and barangay, the grass roots,” says TP associate artistic director Tuxqs Rutaquio, who is directing the production.
Written by Layeta Bucoy, the title is a play on words, with kurap homophonous to “corrupt,” explains Rutaquio, as well as a play on notions of vigilance.
The material started off as a devised performance piece by TP’s Actors Company, its resident pool of actors. “As a group, we started asking ourselves, Why do we want to do a play about corruption? We recounted incidents of corruption experienced by us, or ones we heard from family and friends. Those accounts became the basis for our first draft.”
From personal experiences, the group moved on to interviewing other individuals who had experiences with corruption.
The group spoke with Jun Lozada, government-anomaly whistleblower in 2008, and the nun who helped protect him after his revelation, Sis. Mary John Mananzan, women’s advocate and former St. Scholastica’s College president.
“We also came across [journalist] Maria Ressa’s speech for the graduation at Far Eastern University delivered earlier this year. She talked about corruption, zero tolerance, and how corruption is personal. Her ideas helped move our play articulate a notch higher in terms of what we really want to say.
“This production has been collaborative from Day 1. It must try to answer what we initially asked ourselves: Why do we want to do this? It is not to preach about corruption. It is simply putting another perspective to the concept. We have to jolt our audience. We have to provoke them to think.”
The production will feature all members of the Actors Company, TP’s pool of resident actors, and guest actors such as Manila 6th District councilor and actor Lou Veloso and, in certain performances, rapper Gloc 9.
“We don’t expect audiences to change completely and suddenly become vigilant against corruption, though we hope they will. We want them to become aware of the problem, even if it’s just a sneak peek of what is really happening in our society. And, of course, they decide if they will still tolerate these things or they will do something about it.”
With technical direction and lighting design by Katsch Catoy; production design by Jerome Aytona; and sound design by TJ Ramos.
After its run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the production will be open for bookings for shows around Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
“Walang Kukurap” runs until Oct. 7 at Huseng Batute Theater, Cultural Center of the Philippines. Call 8321125 loc. 1620 and 1621, 0917-7500107, 0918-9593949, 2183791.