Zamboanga City – THEATER presentations should not merely be a form of entertainment but should rather influence changes on issues that a certain piece wanted to depict.
This was the message of playwright and play director Prof. Steve Fernandez after the theatrical presentation of Ming-Ming, a play written and directed by Fernandez, on the occasion of 2nd National University Theater Festival held from February 19-23 at Dr. Juanito Bruno Gymnasium of Western Mindanao State University (WMSU).
The festival, participated in by different schools and theater groups from different colleges and universities in the country, was jointly hosted by the Association of Performing Artists of Zamboanga (ACPAZ), National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and WMSU. It was held in observance of February as national arts and culture month.
Ming-Ming, a semi-fantasy drama about a Maranao family, was excellently staged by the world-class theater performers of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT)-based Integrated Performing Arts Guild (IPAG).
A review by the Washing-based Filipino American Bulletin says that IPAG’s recent presentations during their US tour “more than adequately described Mindanao as a wondrous place, so unlike the usual impression of Muslim problem, where the people nurture the universal aspirations for peace and prosperity.”
Viewers in contemporary plays, said Prof. Fernandez, are free to come up with their own interpretation of the presentation. “What you see and how you understand each character is all correct. How you take the message of the presentation is the same message that we want to portray,” he added.
Prof. Fernandez, who is also a member of the NCCA, also presented a lecture entitled “Beyond Realism: Theater Pedagogy in Philippine Universities.”
Other speakers during the festival include Dr. Glecy Atienza on “Significance of Theater Movement/Guild in the Philippine Colleges and Universities, Improvisation in Philippine Theater and Theater Documentation”; Frederick R. Castro on “Basic Acting and Production Design”; Edward Perez on “Ang Sining Bilang tulay sa Gawaing Instruksyon Mula sa Karanasan ng mga Unibersidad/Colegio sa Luzon and Script Writing”; Tanya Lopez on “Running the Play Behind the Scene: Production and Management”; Arman Sta. Ana on “Directing Technical Theater”; and, Felimon Blanco on “Dance Theater Production Rasa – Box Acting”.
Dr. Roberto Torres, ACPAZ President and director of WMSU’s Culture and Arts Office, acted as national coordinator of the festival.
“The festival brought theater to life, especially in the school environment. At the same time it brought theater enthusiasts from around the country closer to one another,” he said.
Other theatrical presentations included BulSu Theater Guild from Bulacan State University (Sa Kislap ng mga mga Tala), Pinay Theater from Miriam College (Baranggay Pekto), Teatro Lingganay from Sacred Heart Seminary (Ribok Gikan sa Tagipusuon).
A special presentation of the WMSU Theater Guild was “Pacita, Salma y Señora”, staged on the opening night of the festival at National Museum. The play is a Chavacano adaptation of the “Lady of the Port,” a book written by WMSU President Dr. Grace Rebollos and Claretian priest Fr. Angel Calvo, which portrays friendship between Muslims and Christians in the city.