Play in the Making Makes It

By Josefina Pedroza

“WE did not expect it to be a huge production,” said Nikki Torrres of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Performing Arts Department who spoke in the forum following the 45-minute production of “Uyayi sa Digmaan” at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute on December 4, 2008.

And huge it appeared indeed. There was the 18-member troupe that played Moro music on the palabunyibunyian, providing an ominous introduction to a somber unraveling of the Moro war, circa 2008. Recently formed out of a foundation that goes by the uncanny name Serve the Children and Older Persons, its members looked like authentic Moro, which they were not. Fact is, the play itself, written by a non-Moro, was mounted by non-Moros.

In any case, “Uyayi sa Digmaan” at the CCP presented before a limited audience a human dimension of a war that has raged in Mindanao for ages. (See play synopsis.) The war has been there for so long that it no longer offers excitement to newsreaders, except when the body count rises to hundreds and whole villages are plundered.

The play’s CCP outing was made possible by the Tag-ani Performing Arts Society, in cooperation with the CCP, as part of its Waiting in the Wings program. The program features plays that are “works in progress,” meaning unfinished. Nikki Torres noted that oftentimes, the performances were simply dramatic readings sans a directorial concept or production design. But Tag-ani did excerpts of “Uyayi” with lights and sound and all that. Director Marili Fernandez-Ilagan even made sure that the playwright’s lyrics were set to music and arranged for the CCP performance, and by noted artists such as Cynthia Alexander and Malu Matute. The cast and crew, composed of students from Miriam College, the University of the Philippines and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, were admirable.

Perhaps, the sentiment that “Uyayi” created among the audience could be captured by the two foreigners who came in earlier than the Pinoys (so what else is new). They said they did not know the language but they nevertheless understood. And that they were touched.

And touch the audience a play ought to do.

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