Make way for the Manila Improv Festival 2017

Amadís Ma. Guerrero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - They’re at it again. Those experts and specialists in improvisational theater (improv) are performing anew and bringing with them their foreign colleagues. And they will test their (and your) mettle.

We refer to the Manila Improv Festival 2017, which will be held on March 22 to 26 at the PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) Theater Center in Quezon City. This was announced during a recent press launch at the PETA Theater’s roof deck.

My old-fashioned Pocket English Dictionary defines the verb improvise as “to do or create something without preparation, practice, sufficient materials, etc.”

The shows are presented by PETA and Third World Improv with Silly People’s Improv Theater (SPIT), headed by Gabe Mercado, leading the many improv groups from the Philippines (Metro Manila, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro). There are also contingents from China (Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong); Singapore; Japan (Tokyo and Osaka); India (Mumbai); and Australia (Brisbane).

The rollicking press launch was punctuated by much laughter, clever repartee, audience participation, word games, so the media had to be on their toes, with letters thrown at them, as in “the letter O can mean Oh my God or oo nga,” “T is for terrible” and so on.

One highlight was when three machos, a.k.a. Miss Singles, pretended to be candidates for a Miss Universe kind of competition, and they had to give quick, funny and witty answers to questions like “What is the treasure of the Philippines?” and “What is the solution for the EDSA traffic?”

Frankly, the replies were lost on me.

Program notes gave a clue to what audiences can expect from the many skits. “A mixed band of misfits show you street-style improv” (ISAW Manila, Icame Isaw Iconquered). “An improvised soap opera” (Chicken Soap for the Soul, ASAP Singapore). “Short form silliness with a Hong Kong twist” (3 Dudes, Hong Kong). “One of the players is impaired. Figure out which one” (One of us is Drunk, Singapore). And “Improviser will take suggestions from the audience and create scenes resembling the entertainment and drama of a Bollywood movie” (Improv Comedy Mumbai).

Organizers are “threatening” to attract an estimated 150 delegates and 4,000 guests to the 38 shows and five workshops at PETA’s performance venues. For details, call 0917-7167357.

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