Peeking into ‘The Dressing Room’

Staging re-runs is equally challenging than staging original theatre productions. One works with the same material but newer elements have to be added to make it more powerful and visually stunning. Hence, a re-run isn’t just a re-play but a whole reimagination of the same story.

Dulaang UP’s The Dressing Room might be a re-run, but it’s a totally different experience. It’s a story of nostalgia, and how the love of theatre goes beyond our human existence.

The play shows pure and genuine love for the craft. Actors and stars come and go, but the stage remains. And it will remain filled with memories, frustrations, and aspirations.

The play has two versions, an all-female English run and an all-male Filipino run. The infusion of male actors portraying women characters is a brave move in challenging gender stereotypes. It was a Japanese classic not many theatre companies would risk doing.

Aside from the powerhouse cast (Frances Makil Ignacio, Ces Quesada and Missy Maramara for the English version; and Roeder Camanag and Mitoy Santa Ana for the Filipino version), the ensemble of dancers made the production more edgy, thanks to choreography of former artistic director Dexter Santos.

The play is a collaboration of veteran actors and students, fulfilling DUP’s role as a training ground for emerging artists.

The sounds and sights all blended well, nothing short of expectation from any Dulaang UP production.

But one might question, at a time when there are many social issues to address and darker skies are looming over the country, how relevant is it to stage a Japanese classic?

Recently, there’s been a rise of successful political (read: Anti-Marcos) productions like the staging of Dekada 70 and Desaparecidos, while premiere theatre group PETA launched an all-political Stage of the Nation season.

These plays have been lauded by many theater-goers, because their message has resonated to a lot of Filipinos. That’s what art is for, to be a reflection of life, and to be shaking consciousness once in a while.

As a hotbed of activism in the country, a lot of people expected Dulaang UP to stage political artworks that would rally people to be at the forefront to the fight against a looming dictatorship.

The lineup of DUP plays might not be as political as others would have done it, but it still has been a home to gems in the Philippine theatre scene.

It gives us vision to artworks and stories that we might have never seen in this lifetime. The relevance isn’t skin-deep, but productions like The Dressing Room extends our cultural capital and our artistic psyche in ways we may have never imagined.

After Six Characters and The Dressing Room, we will all look forward to Rody Vera’s Nana Rosa, the third and last production for this season.

The Dressing Room runs until November 25 at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero theatre in UP Diliman.

[Entry 268, The SubSelfie Blog]

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