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PETA starts screening performances with advocacy play 'Under My Skin' |

Arts and Culture

PETA starts screening performances with advocacy play 'Under My Skin'

Earl D.C. Bracamonte -
PETA starts screening performances with advocacy play 'Under My Skin'
'Under My Skin' star Cherry Pie Picache
PETA via Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) now streams its advocacy play "Under My Skin" through the medium of film, as it uses the livestream platform to further the crusade.

Shot in closed doors in January 2021, with a strict adherence to Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) guidelines, the material, penned by Rody Vera, and directed by Melvin Lee, will be offered to a much-wider audience than the physical stage.

"We waited for the surge to go down and waited for actors to go out of their homes. This is an intimate play and unravels like a docu-drama. We felt we had no closure with this production because of its abrupt halt in March 2020. So when we shoot the play for film, which by the way had to be shot entirely in a single day as mandated by the IATF, it was sort of a reunion and closure.

"'Under My Skin' is necessary theater as we see the artistry and the advocacy together, while providing a safe space for communication and dialogue - that we achieved through our talkbacks with members of the audience after each show. We shot the play in sequence, employing three cameras for close up, medium shot, and macro/panorama. We transformed the play into a cinematic experience. It's close to film but with the feel of the stage," apprized show director Melvin Lee.

The last live show, that started on World Aids Day last December 1, 2019, was forced to stop in March 2020, before competing its season run, due to the pandemic.

"'Under My Skin' is a show about a virus, and another virus locked it down. Launched in the latter part of Nov. 2019, in celebration of World AIDS Day, it has, since then, reached out to over 10,000 theater viewers. And we've encouraged around 150 people to get tested after every show. Statistically, the cases rose from 10% in 2019 to 21% in 2020-2021, for those affected in the 15-24 age bracket," informed PETA executive director Beng Santos Cabangon.

Awareness is greatly important. "Help us to create ripples of change - to change hearts and minds in serving people with HIV - by showing compassion and how we can help. The cases rose from 33% in pre-pandemic times, to 35% in 2020 due to movement restrictions," shared Love Yourself advocate Danvic Rosadiño.

"We asked the DoH for gaps in their campaign where we could help. The psychosocial baggage of those taking care of the sick are, oftentimes, overlooked. We have a program addressing that concern but the same is temporarily halted due to the pandemic.

"The PETA after-show talkback dialogues between the audiences and the agencies present (who are supporting the campaign) saw that there were common grounds from the different sectors where help could be addressed. We believe in the power of theater to move people to action, may it be medical, spiritual, or psychosocial," enthused UniLab spokesperson Claire Papa. The pharma company is a staunch supporter of PETA' s advocacy, including "Under My Skin."

The staged-for-film version of "Under My Skin" will have subtitles, for non-Tagalog speaking audiences, and will be available globally from November 26 to 28 and November 30 to December 5 for streaming through the Tickets2Me platform at P180 (livestream) and P250 (video on demand).

"Our theater may be closed for public viewing, but there are stories that should not be kept in the dark - stories to build an informed community," intimated Santos-Cabangon at the close of a virtual press briefing.

The Department of Education will start to roll out the Comprehensive Sexuality Education program this school year, and "Under My Skin" will be a relevant tool for the course.

Cherry Pie Picache plays the pivotal role of Dr. Gemma Almonte, a character inspired from a real doctor studying HIV/AIDS. "Human immuno-deficiency syndrome is one thing we should not stop dealing with. From stage to film, the challenge for me was the length of time it took for the transition to happen. Though it was more comfortable for me now playing before a camera because kabisado ko ang film medium. In a play, you need to have mastery, that's the challenge especially now that it was to transition the material after a live show run."

Cherry Pie' s outstanding performance was nominated in the Best Actress category in the Gawad Buhay Awards of 2020, alongside Melvin Lee (direction) and Rody Vera (script), as well as the play itself.

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