If you’re looking for entertainment options that keep you out of the rain in this wet season, then head on to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) where a festival of 12 untried, untested, unstaged and unpublished plays are being staged in the annual Virgin Labfest (VLF).
The 14th edition of Virgin Labfest presents fresh one-act plays from both established and emerging playwrights staged by the acclaimed Tanghalang Pilipino at the CCP Little Theater in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
VLF, a yearly project of the Manila-based playwrights group Writers Bloc, has gained the attention of theatergoers over the years with its reputation of producing provocative and outstanding ‘virgin’ plays. Most of the plays have been recognized by the Palanca Awards for Literature.
This year’s new stage plays are the main feature at the festival which also presents 3 of the audience-favorites from the previous year’s festival, as well as staged readings from the VLF Writing Fellows.
These 12 new Virgin Labfest: Silip synopses should help you take your pick for your entertainment-with-substance options in Manila:
SET A July 11, 15 | 3:00 PM July 10 and 14 | 8:00 PM
- MGA EKSENA SA BUHAY NG KONTRABIDA Written by Dustin Celestino Directed by Roobak Valle Jake is a villain. He’s violent, selfish, and reckless. Unfortunately, Jake doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and his behavior has consequences. Because Jake is a villain, people around him feel threatened, and these people look for ways to solve the problem that is Jake. Part origin story, part family drama, the play is a collection of conversations heard in the vicinity of a villain.
- MGA BATA SA SELDA 43 Written by Rolin Migyuel Cadallo Obina Directed by Ian Segarra Philip and his younger brother, Ino, are ordinary and playful children from the slums who were kidnapped by aliens. So they thought. But their dreams of escaping the alien prison cell to be reunited with their mother and ailing grandmother shattered when they met Ed.
- ANG INYONG MGA ANAK: SI HAROLD AT NAPOLEON Written by Anthony Kim Vergara Directed by Ricardo Magno Harold was just about to leave the house after feeding her grandmother for another poetry gig and an out of the country trip when he opened up a conversation with his mother about Napoleon – a former college schoolmate who was recently brutally murdered in their province. The conversation then opens up a venue for powerful insights and revelations about the mother and son’s beliefs and political stand. The play will start and end with poetry which will further tackle the mother and son’s will to exist as an ordinary citizen or a steward of change.
SET B July 12 | 3:00 PM July 11, 15 | 8:00 PM
- ANG MGA PROPESYUNAL Written by Sari Saysay Directed by Carlos Siguion Reyna Pia is a ten-year old professional journalist who is barred from covering Malacañang. From here, she confronts reality and, along with her two friends, a doctor and a police officer, chooses to dwell in a make-believe realm of truth in order to investigate the predicaments of each other’s chosen profession while trying to discover facts about deaths – of innocent children, of freedom of expression, of democracy.
- ROSAS Written by J. Dennis Teodosio Directed by Charles Yee “Rosas” — In the Home for the Aged, two old men wait for the sun to set. As they reminisce, the past and the present unapologetically confront them, forcing them to reveal and admit their fears and longings, and eventually, leading them to face and accept their inevitable future. Before them, a bed of blooming roses bears as a silent witness.
- EDGAR ALLAN HEMINGWAY Written by Carlo Vergara Directed by George de Jesus III When a young man achieves a feat that many writers could only dream of, he’s thrust into a hectic life of celebrity, one unabashedly embraced by his supportive lover. But when a childhood friend shows up hoping to have a slice of the same success, an unexpected revelation brings about questions on ethics, survival, and freedom.
SET C July 8, 13 | 3:00 PM July 12 | 8:00 PM
- LABOR ROOM Written by Ma. Cecilia “Maki” dela Rosa Directed by Jose Estrella Three women meet in the busy labor room. As they watch delivering mothers come and go, they build a short friendship, that of strong confidence and genuine concern. Three women — one, having a baby, two facing the loss of one. All are giving birth to hope.
- ENSAYO Written by Juan Ekis Directed by Eric Villanueva dela Cruz Lolo Peds (60’s) anxiously waits for his acting partner Lola Tisha (60’s) so that they can rehearse the scene they are about to present in acting class. Tisha arrives late, protesting the script which contains a kissing scene. Tisha suspects Peds asked to rehearse so he can get his way with her. Peds accuses Tisha of being unprofessional. As they work on the scene, they both discover that they’re in for a little more than just a rehearsal.
- TULAD NG DATI Written by JV Ibesate Directed by Olive Nieto Returning home from being imprisoned for twenty years, Neil, a former teacher convicted for raping his adolescent student, reunites with his younger brother Norman. Home is where many of the brothers’ secrets have been formed, that Norman wishes to forget. What supposedly is a happy reunion turns sour when past issues re-emerges, forcing the two to come face to face with their darkest, most disturbing secrets.
SET D July 10, 14 | 3:00 PM July 8, 13 | 8:00 PM
- AMOY PULBOS ANG MGA ALABOK SA ILALIM NG RILES NG TREN Written by Lino Balmes Directed by Tess Jamias Live-in partners Chona and Ramil argue about their misfortune inside their house beneath a railroad. A train passes by and we’re transported to a TV studio in Quezon City where Ramil performs a lousy pansit monologue during the elimination round of Pera o Bayong. Then, a different train arrives.
- MARAWI MUSICALE Written by Tyron Casumpang Directed by Ariel Yonzon September 24, 2017. Four months since Marawi City was attacked and invaded by the terrorist group Maute-ISIS. While soldiers in Marawi fight the war against terrorists, a group of Christian and Muslim volunteers fight a war against hunger in an evacuation center located in a municipality right beside Marawi. As they already struggle to make ends meet in order to feed all the children evacuees in the area, they face a greater adversary: the immobilizing noise of gunshots, bombing, and air raids from the war zone. And in their war against the immobilizing noise, their only weapon is music.
- RIVER LETHE Written by Allan Lopez Directed by Chris Martinez Synopsis A room in a small lover’s hotel is sanitized, preparing it for its next occupant. Abe and Mara, two cancer patients who just finished with their early morning chemotherapy sessions, check in before returning to their regular lives. In snapshots, we see the few hours they are together exploring fetishes, kinks, uncanny sex and hopeless medical conditions – the nakedness of their bodies shadowing intimacies that nobody outside the room will ever know. All is left in the cramped space to be forgotten – a dip in the mythical River Lethe, where one drinks to forget.
VLF 14 also presents Revisited at the CCP Studio Theater where 3 stage plays which were deemed audience favorites from last year are again presented.
VLF REVISITED (SET E): Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP Studio Theater) July 8, 14, 15 | 3:00 PM July 13, 14 | 8:00 PM
- BIRDCAGE Written by Rick Patriarca Directed by Ian Segarra As two of the longest-staying employees in the BPO company, Ed and Arthur have witnessed the departure of many colleagues from work. When a young teammate suddenly resigns to pursue his dreams, the two contemplate about their future in the industry, and on everything they have sacrificed to secure their comfortable lives.
- SINCERITY BIKER’S CLUB Written by Adrian Ho Directed by Jenny Jamora The only bikers’ club of Barangay Sincerity welcomes a new member: Louella, a widow from Manila. All five original members are happy about the new addition to their club, except for one who reveals that Louella is rumored to be a drug user and that her husband was killed by the police for being a drug addict. The revelation causes dissent amongst the members. Those who fear for the club’s reputation and their safety want Louella out. Some, however, feel that Louella shouldn’t be punished for the tragic events of her past. All are faced with a dilemma: will they succumb to fear or will compassion win out?
- PILIPINAS KONG MAHAL WITH ALL THE OVERCOAT Written by Eljay Castro Deldoc Directed by Roobak Valle and Tuxqs Rutaquio A native of Hagonoy, Bulacan, Eljay Castro Deldoc is a writer, translator, actor, director, and educator. He earned his degree in Communication Arts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. He has been a fellow of the Cordillera Creative Writing Workshop, the 14th Iyas National Writers Workshop, the 1st PUP Multi-Genre National Writers Workshop, the 15th Ricky Lee Scriptwriting Workshop, and the 57th UP National Writers Workshop. His most notable original plays are The Virgin Labfest’s “Ang Goldfish ni Prof. Dimaandal” and “Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala”, Tanghalang Pilipino’s “Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog”, and the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award-winning “Pilipinas Kong Mahal With All the Overcoat”. Eljay is a member of Writers Bloc and The Quiapo Collective. He is also the artistic director of Tabsing Kolektib, a Manila- and UPLB-based theater company.
Virgin Labfest 14: SILIP will end its 3-week run by July 15, 2018.