What started as Cecile Guidote-Alvarez’s thesis for her Masters of Arts degree in 1967—where she envisioned a National Theater Movement for the country—has blossomed into Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA), a powerful presence in the theater industry.
Over the course of 50 years, PETA has contributed to Philippine theater aesthetics, performance and pedagogy. It has also established itself as company with strong people-based theater aesthetics.
It could be remembered that it was the exile of Guidote-Alvarez during the Martial Law in 1972 that cemented PETA’s commitment to social change.
“The social conditions and political climate during the Martial Law inspired the company to use the power of theater as a means of producing plays for empowerment and development, especially of the most disadvantaged sectors of society or those in the margins,” PETA writes on its history page.
Some of the earlier plays PETA produced in that era and decades thereafter included Bayaning Huwad, Larawan, May-i, May-i, Hanggang Dito na Lamang at Maraming Salamat, Juan Tamban, Pilipinas Circa 1907, Ang Buhay ni Galileo, Macbeth, Canuplin, Macliing, Minsa’y Isang Gamu-Gamo, Ang Paglalakbay ni Radya Mangandiri and 1896—all of which expressed local, national and universal themes.
Today, its humble theater—located at the heart of New Manila—has been home to the company’s modern repertoire including Haring Lear, Arbol de Fuego Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang, and Batang Rizal as well as its contemporary musicals like Skin Deep, William, Care Divas and Rak of Aegis. It has also been a witness to the honing of talents with PETA’s well-attended educational theater programs.
Despite its already rich history, PETA is nowhere near slowing down, especially not in 2017 when it marks its 50th anniversary.
In celebration of its golden year, PETA prepares a line-up of productions and workshops that showcases the range of its cultural work and honors the men and women who have taken PETA to milestone.
Caredivas (February 3 to March 19)
PETA’s hit comedy musical on Philippine migration reruns, opening the company’s 50th year celebration. The musical dominated the 2011 Philstage Gawad Buhay! Awards, bagging seven trophies including Outstanding Stage Direction, Outstanding Musical Direction, Outstanding Musical Production and Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Musical.
Care Divas is a disarmingly funny and candid musical drama about 5 transgender Overseas Filipino Workers in Israel who work as care givers in the morning and transform into glamorous drag queen performers at night.
Manila Improv Festival 2017 (March 22 to 26)
The Silly People’s Improv Theater (SPIT) in collaboration with PETA rounds up the best local and international improvisational comedy groups in a 5-day festival. According SPIT’s founder Gabe Mercado, doing the festival at the PETA Theater Center is their way of coming home, as “PETA was the very first group that brought improv to the Philippines in the early 70s.”
Bunk Puppets’ Sticks Stones Broken Bones (May 3 to 7)
PETA hosts Sticks, Stones & Broken Bones, a breathtaking shadow puppetry production by acclaimed performer Jeff Achtem. The show is a theatrical extravaganza that makes use of mind-bending shadow puppetry techniques to create one big spectacle that will surely amaze children as well as adults.
Rites at The Fort and PETA in Concert (April 7)
The company kick starts the celebration of its foundation day with a morning ritual, and blessing of its original home, the Rajah Sulayman Theater. In the evening, the company hosts a special concert performed by renowned theater and music giants singing new renditions of PETA’s musical gems and original compositions through the decades. The gathering also serves as a heartfelt thanksgiving and a rightful send-off as PETA continues to grow beyond 50 years.
Peta Workshop Express (April 27 to May 28)
PETA’s annual workshop for kids, teens, and adults go the extra mile as it travels to different regions across the country to conduct satellite classes in key cities.
Tagu-Taguan, Maliwanag Ang Buwan (August 24 to September 24)
Tagu-taguan, Maliwanag ang Buwan is PETA’s newest children’s production. It tells the story of a young boy who embarks on an adventure to find the imprisoned stories in a dark realm of fear and forgetfulness guarded by the evil monster Pawpaw Halimaw. As he goes deeper into his quest, he discovers the power of imagination and creativity and deepens his understanding of love, friendship and courage.
Festival of Windows (October 6 to 22)
PETA gathers its local and international partners to a festival of ideas and best practices in the field of Advocacy Theater.
Ang Buhay ni Galileo (November 9 to December 1)
Originally directed by German director Fritz Bennewitz, the play captures Bertolt Brecht’s power and depth, rich semantic overtones, and far-reaching implications. The play was critically acclaimed and was considered as one of PETA’s best translations and most exciting productions during this early ‘80s.
A Game of Trolls
A timely and educational production about Martial Law meant for students and millennials. The production will tour year-round to different cities all over the Philippines.