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Archive for August, 2013

photoMy kids have never seen a stage play before so I thought that bringing them to one of Dulaang UP’s productions  would be a good starter.  ” Adarna “, an 18th century epic about a magical bird and the three princes from the Kingdom of Berbania,  was the perfect  opportunity, specially for my two teenagers.

“Adarna ” is Dulaang UP’s first offering for its 38th theater season.  It was adapted for stage by Vlad Gonzales  and directed by Jose Estrella. Staged at the Wilfrido M. Guerrero Theater at UP Diliman, it runs  from July to August 2013.

I had high expectations, being that I had seen DUP plays when I was  a student at  UP two decades back and had been impressed at their productions.   However, my experience today was a letdown.

We arrived at around 2:20 pm for the 3 pm performance  because the seats were a on a first come first served basis. Since we were a party of 7,  five of whom were kids, it was important that we got there early. We were told that  the line starts at  2:40 pm. So people wandered around on that hot Saturday afternoon while an an unofficial line  formed in front of the theater.

At 2:45 pm, we were asked to wait more.   Finally, we were told to form two lines , one at each corridor,  and were told to wait for a signal from the usherette to enter.  About 10 minutes later,   people who were not in line started entering, in small groups .  With five  sweating kids in tow, and a husband who was not too happy, I  marched to the usher and asked what the heck was happening. “They are guests” , she told me. Ticked at her response,  I suggested that maybe she would like to line up with the rest of us to know how uncomfortable it truly was.

Dismayed at the seemingly lack of respect for the paying public, we decided to proceed, with the entire corridor of sweaty theater goers  behind us . The  usherette  took our tickets, but had no idea what was going on as she was busy chatting with someone. How unprofessional indeed.

I immediately noticed how much the theater changed since I was last there.   As part of the UP Repertory Company some 20 years ago, I frequented Guerrero theater and did so with a proud feeling — one of privilege and awe.   Sadly,  that magic is gone and  I felt  pity that it seemed to have been neglected in some way.

IMG_1644… And then there were those monoblocks.   I understand that it was  full seating but it was a bad idea anyway, not only because  it is uncomfortable, but also because of safety reasons.  Imagine what could happen in case an emergency occurs inside the theater (fire, earthquake, etc. ) and people have to scramble out the door through that very small space between the aisles , through  those monoblocks? Smirk all you want, but it is your responsibility, DUP, to ensure the safety of your viewers during your performances.

Five minutes into the play, just when I thought I could finally relax  ,  groups of people entered the theater,  proceeded to the middle rows, causing disturbance among the viewers. This is a big NO NO, and the ushers should not have allowed it. No excuses.

In the middle of all this brouhaha, I found some consolation in the beautiful poetic script, the cast’s amazing  singing voices and their relentless energy. I  specially like the stage chemistry between the three brothers, Pedro, Diego and Juan, and the comical scenes at least at the beginning.

As with most UP productions, budget is always a constraint. The production tried to make up for it through simple shadow lighting ,  basic black costumes and paper based sets.  I  found the props and costumes a little too shabby, though. It would have helped to iron those pants and shirts, buff those black shoes, and maybe powder the actors’ noses once in a while.

The music was a redeeming factor , successfully weaving together the beginning , middle and the end, and providing the mood necessary to transition from scene to scene.  The shadow lighting effects were simple but effective, literally bringing the forest and ocean settings  to light.     However, the lighting seemed lacking  in some scenes, particularly those that involved the 7 ladies that represented the  Adarna, some whose faces were covered in darkness .

While I understand why doubles were needed in some scenes  ,  I am boggled why such was employed in a major portion of the play.  It  seemed to me as if the cast was neither capable nor willing to take on the entirety of the performance without a substitute.

The mood started out quite positive and  engaging.  The audience , including my kids, were laughing at the comedic scenes and dances.  As the play progressed, little by little, the mood became serious, and the laughter was all gone.  It seemed to have lost its audience, and their  empathy towards the characters, after all the tiring quests and draining fight scenes.

At the end of the play, I had forgotten that the play was supposed to be about the Adarna.   Don Juan became the main  focus, booting the poor bird out of center stage.

Oh well, the kids loved it. Overall, it was satisfactory.  Just a little bit more  professionalism wouldn’t hurt, though.

Curtains.

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