Sunday morning I was supposed to be with my son Marcel at the Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero Theater at the 2nd floor of the Palma Hall inside the UP Diliman Campus in Quezon City. I was to join my son Marcel watch Dulaang UP’s production of the Filipino folktale Adarna.
An hour before the curtain time of 10am, me and my son Marcel was there at the 2nd floor lobby. I immediately bought a copy of the souvenir program. Leafing thru the first few pages, I learned that the beloved corrido, Adarna, would start the 38th theatre season of Dulaang UP. The challenge for the new season, in the words of its Artistic Director, Alexander Cortez, is to venture into grander productions. With that in mind, the play’s director Jose Estrella assembled UP’s finest for its artistic team led by, among others, 2012 Gawad Cultural Center of the Philippines Para sa Sining Awardee Brenda Fajardo (costume design), Vlad Gonzales (stage adaptation), Lex Marcos (set and lighting design), and Don Salubayba (puppetry). Jose Estrella, herself, got her MFA in directing from Columbia University (New York City) through a Fulbright Grant.
These details got me excited about watching Adarna, my first theatre play in more than a dozen years. Goodness gracious, but it was not to be.
Believe it or not, the 10am showing that Sunday , July 21, was FULLY SOLD. Aside from the first year students of 3 sections of the Ateneo de Manila High School, there were many more pupils from other schools watching. The 38th season is off to a full house start.
I did the next best thing that Sunday morning which was to run for roughly 2 hours around the Diliman campus (http://www.bicolanopenguin.blogspot.com/2013/07/running-in-up-diliman.html#more). On his part, Marcel had an enjoyable time with his classmates watching Adarna.
I requested my son to make a short review and this is what he came out with:
The play “Adarna” presented by the Dulaang UP (DUP) is a game changer. This play brought a whole new side to the fabled legend and led its viewers to a more interesting side to the mystical land of Verbania, the tale’s setting. At the start, the story seemed to only present what almost of us know regarding the myth. However, when the story reached the point where the legend of the Adarna bird was supposed to end, it didn’t. The talented people of DUP extended the story to a more vivid and exciting one.
When it came to presentation, it was very entertaining. They were able to showcase and use effective methods of keeping the audience at the edge of their seats. Among these are the usage of hilarious jokes and proper tone management.
Overall, this play reshaped the myth from the mainstream tale that we all know to the blooming legend worthy of the term “epic.”
It sounds like the audience had a grand time with Adarna.
Sadly, I missed it but I am happy that my son, and his classmates, got to be exposed to DUP’s reputation for innovation and excellence in theatre. After all, the Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero Theater (previously known as the AS Lecture Hall) is where the talents of such Philippine stage luminaries as Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Joonee Gamboa, Behn Cervantes, Joy Gamboa-Virata, Celia Diaz-Laurel and Tony Mabesa were honed.
Looking at the back of the Adarna souvenir program, I still have a few dates to go and watch the said play. It is showing until August 1. After that, there are 3 more exciting DUP productions for its 38th season.