It is an interesting enough project that is also a foregone conclusion: to stage one-act plays that have as centerpiece the Martial Law regime, which can now only be heavily and specifically contextualized in the present state of nation—volatile as it is, politically divided and confused as we are, congested with information, true and false.
Produced by Ladies Who Launch, Inc., there is a sense that Never Again: Voices of Martial Law is also particularly for the generation that almost voted Bongbong Marcos into the Vice Presidency, as it is for a public that is in the midst of a heated debate about whether or not deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos is a hero. Layer that with the month of Martial Law commemoration, and this festival can only be imbued with layers of relevance.
That of course is also its challenge. Relevance at this point is not merely about telling new stories, or telling old ones in a hip, palatable way. Instead it is about having a sense of where we come from when we say we don’t care about Martial Law, or how exactly Martial Law as a “thingy” is even formed in our heads. The current landscape of social media has transformed the way we think, who we listen to, and how we see, which makes education and engagement a more complex enterprise — and a bigger challenge for projects like these.
It would also be good to be wary of the ways in which Martial Law suffering can be romanticized. Case in point: there’s a very thin line drawn between eerily powerful and distastefully dramatic about the images of cast members, directors, playwrights wearing blood like a fashion statement for this project’s photo releases. Not sure this adds anything productive to the cause of better discourse. — KSS.
About the show: “Never Again: Voices of Martial Law” runs from September 23 to October 16 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Auditorium. It is composed of Set A: “Loyalist Redux” written and directed by KanakanBalintagos, “Duyanka ng Magiting” written and directed by Erika Estacio, and “Thingy Or Ang Pak na Pak Ganern na Ganern sa Pakikipagsapalaran ni Milenyo, D’ Great Pokemon Hunter” written by Chris Martinez and directed by Dennis Marasigan; Set B: “Disco 1081” written by George De Jesus 3rd and directed by Melvin Lee, “Princess Lilli” written by Layeta Bucoy and directed by Tuxqs Rutaquio, and “Bulong-Bulungan sa Sangandaan” written by Ramon Jocson and directed by Audie Gemora; and Set C: “Shhhh” written by Allan Lopez and directed by Jenny Jamora, “Indigo Child” written by Rody Vera and directed by Jose Estrella, and “Ang Lihim na Kasaysayan ng Huling Habilin ni Ferdinand Edralin Marcos (Spiritual King Solomon of Israel) Hinggi lsa Pamana ng Kayamanan ni King Bernardo Carpio at Jose Protacio Rizal Para sa Pagpapaunlad ng Bansang Pilipinas na Siyang Nalalaman ni Mang Ambo, Taxi Driver” written by Guelan Varela-Luarca and directed by Roobak Valle.