I wasn’t really looking to watch a play but when Ella invited me, I just had to go. I read about the company through one of my assignments an I just had to see them personally. True to its roots, PETA (Philippines Educational Theater Association) still produces socially relevant plays that goes so well with everything Filipino. Tonight, my friend Ella and I saw Rak of Aegis . It’s nothing like the American film/ play but the music stayed true to the music of Aegis.
What’s beautiful about it is that it’s accessible art. You don’t really have to know the intricacies of high art or know your opera music. It’s music, dialogue and body language that anyone can relate to. Jologs siya na may dating at kiliti sa panlasang Pinoy. It’s playful, inclusive and touches so many levels of entertaining. Sulit ang 600-1000 pesos mo.
Space-wise, I guess it’s a nice enough venue for small performances. I have no idea if tonight was a special one (full house siya!) but the place does lack the drama of a formal theater. I guess it’s also part of it being accessible. Hindi siya pa-sosyal pero sana may enough parking (sorry na) at canopy for drop off (for the rainy days). The seating could do so much better. Kapos lang talaga siguro but what they lack in space, they make up with the artistry and creativity. Their stage setup is so resourceful! Magada din ang arrangement. Ang galing ng performers!! Live silang bumibirit in perfect harmony! Mas maganda pa sa cd version ng Defying Gravity.
Given everything, I would personally watch out for the next plays that they’re having. Maybe join a workshop or two. I believe in their work and what they stand for. I’ll leave you with a snippet of my annotated bibliography for a class. I did a research on Marcos Era art and saw this treasure of a book in the Filipinana section.
Erven, E. (1989). Stages of people power: the Philippines Educational Theater Association. The Hague : Center for the Study of Education in Developing Countries.
Erven introduces the “Theater of Liberation” under the Marcos dictatorship some years after its downfall. He first lays out Liberation as a political idea was introduced during the sixties sided with those who were oppressed and exploited in the world. It brought new waves of revolutionaries around the international sphere where the Theater of Liberation situates itself. In the process of “Cultural Synthesis” in the people’s theater, the actors do not become teachers to the public but rather as co-authors learning with the audience without spectators.
The foreign author cites the Philippines as offering an almost perfect model of the neocolonial dialogue with its society. Within the censored confines of the dictatorship, the Philippines Educational Theater Association (PETA) developed process-oriented workshops where drama was used to empower the masses to use it as a weapon to fight back against the government. Since its conception, it has become one of the most important professional contemporary theater companies in the entire South East Asian region, producing talent and original plays that meet the standards of best western theater.