SOJOURNER’S VIEW: Teatro sa Calle

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 August) — To bring back the spirit of Davao City’s street theatre in the 1970s-90, grounded in the Mindanao context, a group of artists and cultural workers organized the Teatro sa Calle – A Kadayawan Festival. Three one-act plays performed by three theatre groups and two short films are showcased in all the Saturdays of August 2017 at Calle 5 Performing Arts Centre, along J.P. Laurel St., Bajada, Davao City (at 8 to 9 P.M.). There is no entrance fee at Calle 5. Guests will pay for their food and drink.

The following were the dates and cultural groups involved in this Festival:

  1. Aug. 6: Kaliwat Performing Artists Collective
  2. Aug 12:  Kulturang Tabunon
  3. Aug 26: ADDU Teatro Humanidades
  4. Aug. 19: Films of EJ Fernandez

Opening salvo was last Saturday and featured MINDASILANG, Kaliwat Performing Artist Collective’s play about the roots of the Mindanao conflict, dealing with the interactions of Lumad, Moro and settler communities through the years.  A theatre group that goes by the name of Kaliwat Theatre Collective founded by Nestor Horfilla and his first group of artists/cultural-workers: Geejay Arriola, Marili Fernandez (+), Richard Belar, Eden Espejo and a few others in the late 1980s.  Kaliwat has mounted plays in other parts of the country and abroad with classic plays with a pioneering dramaturgy that privileged indigenous cultural elements and dealt with urgent indigenous, ecological, social issues including: Oya Arakan!, Sinalimba, Siak sa Duha ka Damgo and many others. The present Kaliwat is a third-generation artists/cultural workers mounting dance theatre in various venues but continues the tradition of mounting plays dealing with Mindanawon realities.

On August 12, it will be the turn of Kulturang Tabonon to stage its play: Si Desdemona – Ang Babaeng Nasa Pagitan ng Naguumpugang Bato. The play’s plot: A middle-age woman (Desdemona) returns to her roots in Davao to attend the funeral of her estranged mother. In her younger years, she was an activist who got involved in the anti-Marcos resistance movement, risking her life as she deepened her ideological option. In the process she fell in love with a fellow activist, earning the ire of the mother.

The mother-daughter relationship went from bad to worse, forcing Desdemona to relocate to Manila where she tried her luck in the theatre scene in the metropolitan city. Her options shifted along the way, but her youthful idealism remained. Upon returning to Davao she noticed the major changes that had taken place in the city. This play is where she expresses her longings and lamentations as she came face to face with her mother’s remains. This is a one-woman play which stars Ms. Malou Tiangco. She wrote the script with Melchor M. Morante.

On August 19, Teatro Humanidades (mainly composed of ADDU students, with Mr. Noi Narciso as Artistic Director) will present Babayi. The play is a segment theatre production that tackles issues on women from a third world perspective. It also explores nuances of imaging women in various perspectives: from domestic to industrial settings. The themes presented are universal, typical and common. But instead of dramatic presentations and confrontations, it captures minute details of stories then expounded to articulate the protests and concerns of women and how these women cope with the changes of time. These are the different parts of the Play:

Part 1: KINSA MAN KINING MGA BABAYI? is also a related presentation of various terms coined by society towards women.

Part 2: UNSA MAY TAWAG NIYA? is a presentation of various terms coined by society towards women.

Part 4: TERMINAL is a musicale that tackles stereotyping of women

Part 5:  “kamingaw sa buntag sayo” is dramatic monologue about a mother-daughter relationship. The daughter reminisces about her experience at home during her high school and college days. The last part of this scene presents the daughter going home to visit the tomb of her mother.

Part 6: “ Kinsay tag-iya sa lawas sa babae” is a protest and conviction towards the conditioning of society towards women.

Part 7: ”Buring” is based on a true-to-life story; a woman is forced to sacrifice the self and body for education and alleviate from poverty.

Part 8: “Kayod” is a comic depiction of domestic work yet serious in its elaboration and articulation of the art of approaching this work.

Part 9: “BANIG” – is a story of a battered wife.

On the last Saturday, Aug. 26, the short films of EJ Fernandez will be shown. These include the following:

  1. SWEETCORN: Themes of environmentalism and feminism.

In the near future, Davao is a dystopian world where plants no longer bear fruits that give life. The only hope to restore the environment is the last surviving woman, who has the power of resurrection. Sweetcorn is a lowly drifter who has sworn to protect this woman from the hands of the evil Ben Bakal.

  1. KUNGKO – Themes on truth and transparency in our media.Iza is a newbie journalist who is assigned to assist Emilio, a dirty media man. During the course of her first day as a reporter of The Daily newspaper, she finds out that the truth isn’t what she learned from school. Things turn out unexpectedly while training with Emilio.

There will be time after the showing of the films for the audience interaction with the film director, the cast and crew. [MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar is Academic Dean of the Redemptorists’ St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI) in Davao City and a professor of Anthropology at the Ateneo de Davao University. He is author of several books and writes two columns for  MindaNews, one in English (A Sojourner’s Views) and the other in Binisaya (Panaw-Lantaw)