• The Upstart Soundstage and Breakout Room

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    Karen Kunawicz

    Karen Kunawicz

    Thanks to actor and director Joel Trinidad, I found out about the debut of Upstart Soundstage—a series of readings of a full-length drama, comedy or musical at the sexy events space of the new Century City Mall every other Sunday.

    What happens is you have the actors at a long table, facing the audience. There are no sets, costumes, fancy lights or special effects. You get just the performance. Upstart managing director Onyl Torres likens it to a radio play, “You get the same emotions, the same human drama.”

    Having grown up with adults around me listening to radio dramas in Filipino and English, being a fan of audio books, and knowing about the talent around this venture, I went.

    They kicked off their first three-month season with one of artistic director G Töngi’s favorite plays, Jane Anderson’s The Baby Dance.

    Next Sunday, June 29 they’ll do David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. After that, they are looking at: Stephen Schwartz’ Pippin, Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and hopefully John Kander and Fred Ebb’s Chicago.

    * * *

    The night before, I was likewise involved in something theatrical—“Breakout,” which is the “first real escape room game in the Philippines.” The idea came from escape room games in Japan that eventually made its way to North America and other parts of Asia.

    “Breakout” only runs during the weekends from Friday to Sunday with slots every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. in the morning to 10 p.m. at night. There are two scenarios to choose from: “The Prison Room” or “Outbreak Manila: Adarna’s Lair.”

    We were a group of seven and with four of us having done the Outbreak Missions in Intramuros, we signed up for Adarna’s Lair.

    At the time we walked in, our hosts told us that we were the 327th team to enter Breakout Room. Out of the previous 326, only 12 teams have successfully broken out within the allotted 45 minutes. That’s a less than four percent success rate.

    However, don’t let that discourage you from joining. With not much further to go to get out, the in-room marshal told us our time was up. Because the folks at Outbreak have taken the time to set the stage, the sounds and the lights, our group showed up in costumes inspired by Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Penny Dreadful, Sam Spade and the Ghostbusters—we figured if they bring the theater, so should we.

    Breakout is the most fun I’ve had while thinking under pressure and doing problem solving! As soon as we were let out, we all wanted to do it all over again. And we will. I am totally going back for the Prison Room with Norman Reedus. I heard they are looking into adding other rooms in the coming months.

    * * *

    Upstart and Breakout, I’ll see you both again.

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