(Both Plays compete with Six Other Entries at PSF’s Annual Drama Fest)
In the previous Saturdays, I had the opportunity to witness five competing plays at Philippine Stagers Foundation’s annual Thumbs-up Theater Fest, but on April 21—two of the eight best plays have continually surprised us—the ‘Pitik Surplus’ by JM Encinas and ‘Stars’ by JP Lopez.
On the first Saturday, I thought that Alex Dorola’s play was already heavy in its theme, but served as a wakeup call for all of us when he presented ‘Kung Hei Batsoy’ which I think is kind of taking the same route of George Orwell’s allegorical novel titled ‘Animal Farm’ published in England on August 17, 1945, which reflected on the Stalin era prior to the World War II. Dorola’s play was one of the plays with the three heaviest in terms of emotions. It tackles about the Philippines having been abused, exploited and savaged by foreign conquests. However, let me focus on ‘Pitik Surplus’ since it was worth the wait.
JM Encinas’s first time to make it to the eight competing plays this year made him quite ‘emotional’ after the presentation of his written play. With the acting of three regular Stagers—Patricia Lopez, John San Antonio and Gabby Bautista, everyone were treated to a disturbing but reality-check of what probably drive the people who rob houses and all. What is notable about the play is that—it tackles and spotlights the BAD and not the GOOD as the main theme of JM’s written piece. Gabby Bautista, an Aliw awardee for Best Child Actor has proven once again his knack for acting.
Bautista reminded me of Macaulay Culkin, but rather his attack is of less evil, but innocent and more practical in thinking at his age. His acting and his lines were not treated like a mature being, which made the role more endearing and memorable at the same time. Kudos also to John San Antonio and Patricia Lopez—they didn’t lag behind in terms of their acting. Their respective interpretations of their roles were superbly done. All the time, watching the play was breaking my heart. There is no doubt that ‘Pitik Surplus’ may just run with awards.
The other play that evening was JP Lopez’s fan fiction-take on the lives of two warring fans of the rival celebrities Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. The two fans—named Norma and Wilma mimicked their respective idols and gave the audience a hilarious treat with their spoofs of Nora and Vilma as portrayed by two equally talented regular Stagers—Glory Ann Nacional and Cindy Maree Liper. Putting these two senior actors that were also recognized by Aliw Awards proved that both can also tackle comedic roles. And with their performances, they debunk the idea that only male Stagers are the strongest in terms of pulling a crowd.
With Lopez’s script, it shows his familiarity of the topic and the incorporation of the past memorable scenes of the two popular stars—it added much flavor to the play. It was also brilliant that the funny way of singing the Christmas song ‘I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus’ was included seamlessly. The play is just timely since a resolution was filed by Bacolod Representative Anthony Golez Jr., urging His Excellency President Benigno Aquino III, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts to confer to Nora Aunor the honor of being named as a National Artist of the Philippines for her immense contribution to Philippine arts.
And in response to Golez’s move, House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo ‘Erin’ Tanada III on April 18, contended that “If ‘Superstar’ Nora Aunor is to be nominated for National Artist, then so should her career rival, ‘Star for All Seasons’ and current Batangas governor Vilma Santos.” Given this scenario—the rivalry between Nora and Vilma didn’t stop at all.
Yes, with the two latest shown entries—I predict it will also pit against the five competing plays: ‘Kung Hei Batsoy’ (which Art Gabrentina shown an unthinkable brand of acting), ‘Spirits’ (who frightened its audience), ‘Papeng ni Kiko’ (an attempt to combined the past and the present struggle of an artist—using Franciso Baltazar as its main character), and ‘Pitik Surplus’ (a heavy-drama on the plight of robbers).
All of the plays are equally great, but let me be straight about this—I am not being biased and this is my personal opinion. If I find this and that play—great—it doesn’t mean—another play is not great. We all have different tastes and opinions on things. In fact, I may have seen probable nominees for actors, best actresses and all, but it’s just me. In fact, after watching the rest of the plays—some of my choices were changed and one still remained. I just have to keep it to myself instead.
However, this coming Saturday, April 28—three of the remaining plays also excite me since these promise to delight its audience with its comedic themes. The three plays are: Jomar Bautista’s ‘Dilaw o Pula’, Jordan Ladra’s ‘I Heart Me’, and Genesis Ukol & Rachel Gianan’s ‘Ms. Gay Pulang Hangin’.