• Vince Tañada’s game of theater

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    GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

    Caveat remembers having been invited together with fearless film critique Tony Aguilar 10 years ago to O’ Moises—a musical theater staged at the University of the Philippines (UP)—by production manager and
    in-house set designer and co-founder of Philippine Stagers Foundation (PSF) Jeff Ambrosio.

    The director who also wrote the libretto was Vince Tañada, founder and artistic director of PSF himself.

    Since its beginning in 2002, PSF wanted to make a difference in running a company of legit stage actors. Tañada was then a fresh law graduate from San Beda, and Ambrosio a graduate of Interior Design from the College of St. Benilde. Theater got into their bones even as they pursued their respective high-paying careers, with the former also then serving as dean of the College of Law of Bestlink Colleges of the Philippines and teaching Humanities and Labor Laws at San Beda College-Manila.

    PSF averages 200 to 500 shows per theater season, breaking box-office records for their stage plays shown both in Metro Manila and the provinces outsmarting and out-grossing the more established theater companies.
    The Foundation has a cozy home studio of its own where they hold rehearsals, previews and conduct free workshops to beneficiaries.

    Tañada, who is PSF’s own resident director/actor/playwright, is also a Palanca winner and Best New Male Actor for the indie film Otso bestowed by the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) Star Awards for Movies.

    He did all the librettos of all the musical plays that he has directed and mostly acted in it as well, like Mactan 1521; O’ Moises; Desaparecidos, A Filipino Musicale; Ako Si Ninoy; Cory Ng EDSA; #popepular;Joe A Filipino Rock’sical; Bonifacio, Isang Sarswela; Filipinas 1941; and Katips, Ang Mga Bagong Katipunero.

    In time for the Arts Month this February, PSF is showcasing a trilogy of original pink plays replete with skin and sex imaginable billed Babasagin, Dilaw O Pula, and Bagyo ! Burol. Beki … at Greenbelt 1 Theater in Makati.

    The lawyer-actor has so far won awards from Aliw Foundation, Broadway World Awards, Golden Dove and Catholic Mass Media.

    Referring to Katips, Lea Salonga recently tweeted, “When the Aliw Awards recognizes a musical on Martial Law for Best Original Musical, that’s when you realize the arts is here to transform.”

    Ironically, PSF is remotely unrecognized by Gawad Buhay, the annual Philstage Awards for the Performing Arts – an aggrupation of active theater artists and professionals which bestows recognition much like the Tony of Broadway.

    Almost a proverbial pariah among so-called Manila-centrist mainstream theater companies, does Tañada even care?

    PSF is lording over these so-called theater timbers in terms of rewarding seasons, enviable ROIs and the notion of gazing at the ephemeral arts both as fluid source of aesthetic gratification and financial rewards.
    Can anyone beat this iconoclast at his own theater game? Wait until he says the last words to the issue at hand.

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