Theater in the cockpit

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - February 21, 2015 - 12:00am

An artistic undertaking has taken place that marked February truly the arts month. In observance to the theme of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), it highlights local cultural genius to promote pride of place.

Theater in a cockpit area, possible? A big yes for Bohol's Dulaang Kasing Sining as they staged Teatro Porvenir at the Baclayon Cockpit Arena. Directed by Lutgardo "Gardy" Labad, had their performances for students and residents of Bohol.

Gardy, a multi-awarded Boholano theater director, musical scorer as well as former NCCA Committee on Dramatic Arts Head said, the Baclayon Theater, home to traditional cockfights for over a century, has become the theater for the future. He hopes the move will assist in the revitalization of local community based theater, arts and heritage.

He organized the Dulaang Kasing Sining as a community-based semi-professional repertory theater company aimed at the development of theater in Bohol. It is a well-rounded core of theater and drama performers and creators, developing original plays that utilize the Boholano and other national languages of the country, that portray the historical, cultural, socio-political conditions of the province in a most imaginative manner, that draw from the rich heritage of cultural forms in the Visayas for its form, style and genre, and will convey messages and themes reflecting the needs, aspirations, and spirit of the Boholano people.

The play, written by Tim Dacanay and Edward Perez explores by imagination the country's heroes as theater artists and threads on the life of Andres Bonifacio, Macario Sacay and Aurelio Tolentino to a direction that is not even mentioned in any historical books.

I found useful information in the Facebook of the Philippine Theater in the Regions which says about the theater in a cockpit:

The idea of a cockpit theater is not new in the Philippines. Famed Ilonggo musical couple, Gilopez Kabayao and wife, performed musical concerts across the country in cockpits everywhere. In studies for the Linambay or Visayan komedya or moro-moro, there were times when cockpits were likewise utilized as entertainment venues.

The present Baclayon Cockpit or Buwangan sa Baclayon is currently owned by the Uy and Ramo families. Built after the war, its original owners were Sergio Patis, Colonel Guillermo Oppus, and Jonas Patis. In the past three years, the Baclayon cockpit like others in Bohol has fallen into disuse because of a national law allowing cockfights only on Sundays, thus forcing many Bohol cockfight aficionados to troop to the bigger Tagbilaran cockpit for their weekend game.

This was a great opportunity for Gardy Labad to pursue a dream.

"I have always been endlessly smitten by the idea of doing a drama presentation inside the cockpit. Its semi-theater in the round resembles the Elizabethan stages of William Shakespeare; the frontal area is so conducive for building a two-storey stage for multi-level productions. The audience space is not so vast, the communication and interaction with an audience is so direct and can be magnetic. With the audience surrounding the actors and the action, the fluidity and electricity of communication can be astonishing. But most important of all, the Buwangan or Sabungan has been an icon of local cultural heritage. For many a cockpit has become a venue nourishing a lot of social ills. But on the whole it has been accepted as a people's socio-economic-cultural site, part and parcel of many a community's folkways."

Congratulations to people behind the staging of the play: the stage architect Nino Guidaben, to the costumes designer Rudy Aviles, main music composer and arranger Odoni Pestelos, props and sets designer Rexcel de Asis, music consultant and additional music composer Lucien  Letaba, telon designer Guy Custodio, history lecturer Marianito Luspo, Socrates Galiena and the Grandeza Family, arnis trainor Jj Grandeza and arnis choreography, scene work and polishing directors Jerrey David Aguilar and Jay Banquil, lighting design director Jerameel Dayon Decasa and multimedia designer Franz Labad.

Let's commend and support similar theatrical undertakings throughout the country.  This is truly the people's theater, rooted on people's experiences and aspirations.



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