National Theater Festival at CCP hopes to banish ghost of ‘Phantom’

Cultural Center of the Philippines

The chandelier and the candelabras have been packed and sent away, and so as the Cultural Center of the Philippines bids farewell to the international touring production of "The Phantom of the Opera," it has now opened its doors to theater productions of a more homegrown bent.

"Phantom's" months-long stay at the main theater of the country's high temple to Philippine arts and culture caused not inconsiderable controversy, first at the Bureau of Immigration's reported refusal to impose proper equity taxes on "Phantom's" foreign performers; and then at the visual incongruity of an imported musical spectacle drawing blockbuster crowds of the coiffed and perfumed, while a local production that ran in the smaller theater downstairs—in this case, Mario O'Hara's  "Stageshow," a musical elegy to a vanished form of Filipino mass entertainment—could only manage sporadic full houses.

For the next two weeks, perhaps those theatergoers who splurged on "Phantom" could summon the same enthusiasm again, as the CCP hosts the 4th National Theater Festival until Nov. 18, with its full slate of performances, a conference, exhibits and film screenings. ("Stageshow" had its last hurrah—for now; hopefully Tanghalang Pilipino will do a rerun—as the opening play of the festival last Thursday.)

There are no chandeliers and hi-tech tricks this time, only the best theater productions from leading theater groups and performers from all over the Philippines, converging in Manila for a rare and all-too-brief theatrical buffet that any theatergoer worth his or her salt shouldn't miss.

Cultural Center of the Philippines - Night View

The groups and performers includes the following

  1. Barasoain Kalinangan Foundation Inc. from the province of Bulacan
  2. Bohol Antequera and Maribojoc Cultural Collectives in cooperation with Teatro Bol-Anon from the province of Bohol
  3. Dulaang UP of the University of the Philippines
  4. Gantimpala Theater Foundation
  5. Integrated Performing Arts Guild of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology
  6. Mindanao State University Kabpapagariya Ensemble from General Santos City
  7. Philippine Educational Theater Association (Peta)
  8. Sipat Lawin Ensemble
  9. Tanghalang Ateneo of Ateneo de Manila University
  10. Tanghalang Pilipino
  11. The Xavier Stage of Cagayan de Oro
  12. Trumpets, Inc.

There will also be special performances by cultural activist Carlos Celdran; Kanlaon Theater Guild of Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod; SPIT (Silly People's Improv Theater); and ventriloquists Ony Carcamo and Wanlu.

Film screenings will showcase the interplay between theater and film—plays that were made into films and films that started out as plays. These include National Artist for Film Lino Brocka's "Insiang" (written by O'Hara for film and for stage) and "Bona" (adapted by Layeta Bucoy for stage); National Artist for Film Lamberto Avellana's "Portrait of the Artist as Filipino" (a Nick Joaquin play); Dennis Marasigan's "North Diversion Road" (a Tony Perez play), "Anatomiya ng Korupsyon" (a Malou Jacob play) and Joel Lamangan's "ZsaZsa Zaturnnah Ze Moveeh" (a Chris Martinez/Vincent de Jesus musical theater adaptation of the graphic novel by Carlo Vergara).

Call the NTF Secretariat 8322314 or visit for details about play/movie schedules, tickets, etc.

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