• Get lost in the arts



    Go ahead. Lose your boredom, ignorance, innocence and apathy, with just a little money, at the 12th Virgin Labfest at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

    The annual theater festival opened on Thursday, the same day the two-year-old World Premieres Film Festival Philippines opened at Cinematheque in T. M. Kalaw St. in Manila and five other cinemas in Metro Manila.

    Virgin Labfest will go on until July 17. In case you’re not yet familiar with it, the event is a laboratory festival that showcases new plays written by both up-and-coming and established playwrights. The festival aims to give Filipino playwrights a venue to present their unpublished, unstaged, untested, and untried works to theatergoers.

    It will showcase 12 new works, 3 audience favorites from last year’s festival, 5 staged readings, and fragments from 3 new plays presented as site-specific performances. The whole affair will involve 30 playwrights, 21 directors, and 200 actors whose ages range from 14 to well over 60.

    For the first time this year the labfest will have a film-screening component tagged as
    “From Stage to Screen,” unreeling movies adapted from plays staged at previous Labfests.

    The Labfest has a website and a Facebook page so feel free to log on to either of them for details, including schedule and ticket discount packages (though there are per play tickets available at P150).

    The World Premieres, meanwhile, goes on until July 10. The inter-continental film event, has parallel symposiums and forums at Cinematheque.

    Aside from the Cinematheque, the competing and non-competing films will also be shown at varying days and hours at Greenbelt Cineplex, Shangri-la Mall, SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, and Uptown Mall in Alabang. Tickets to each screening is P100 at Cinematheque and P150 in mall theaters. The awards night for the competing films will be tonight at Cinematheque. The festival is a project of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, a government agency.

    The Virgin Labfest would still be on going when ToFarm Film Festival debuts on July 13 at SM Megamall and SM North EDSA. ToFarm is actually an acronym for The Outstanding Farmers of the Philippines. It is the Search that organized the festival, along with the farming equipment company Universal Harvester, Incorporated.

    The festival will revolve around the theme “The Plight of the Farmer: His Trials and Triumphs.”

    With veteran filmmaker Maryo J. de los Reyes as festival director, ToFarm will show six entries, each of which received a seed production grant of P1.5 million.

    Although the entries deal with the life of farmers and their families, they vary in genre and treatment. The entries promise to be entertaining. The screenings at SM North Edsa and SM Megamall end on July 19, after which the festival moves on to SM Pampanga and SM Cabanatuan, with screenings from August 24 to 30.

    Manifesting a desire to be national in scope, ToFarm festival entries will be shown in SM Cebu on September 14-20, then in SM Davao on October 12-18. Date and venue of the awards night have not been announced, though it will be likely be held shortly before the Davao screening ends to avoid giving winning entries over the others at the box office.

    But then, by the time ToFarm movies are shown in Pampanga, another indie film festival will have unreeled in Metro Manila, though primarily at the CCP. It’s the Cinemalaya on August 5-15.

    Furthermore, beyond the plays at the Labfest, you may also watch Rak of Aegis at PETA Theater Center from Tuesday to Sunday until August.

    Finally, there’s the second weekend of The Female Heart at the Wilfrido Guerrero Theater of Palma Hall in University of the Philippines Diliman. It’s the directorial debut of the
    US-trained actress-teacher Banawe Miclat-Janssen to mark her 25th year in the performing arts. Despite its title, it’s a serious play about a sacrificing younger sister to a disease-stricken macho dancer brother, and a sex toy to an American husband.

    Versatile actor Al Gatmaitan performs a 5-minute macho dance in a gay bar, his first ever in his 20-year-old career. Chase Salazar very impressively plays the sacrificing sister. The play is in Filipino/Tagalog, though it was originally written in English by Linda Faigan-Hall for a New York audience by. The Miclat-Janssen staging is produced by UP Playwrights Theater.


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