Tanghalang Pilipino presents Walang Kukurap, a suspense thriller play that tackles graft and corruption

by William R. Reyes
Sep 29, 2012
In this scene (left frame) from Walang Kukurap, Jonathan Tadioan (Lu) strangles Marco Viaña (Marky) while Suzette Ranillo (Christina) tries to stop them. Lou Veloso (right frame) is also part of this play that tackles graft and corruption in a fictional town.

Walang Kukurap, the current offering of Tanghalang Pilipino, is a controversial play that "explores the darkest side of the Filipino soul."

This suspense thriller play tackles graft and corruption in a fictional town in the Philippines. Theatergoers will get to follow the story of five families whose lives are intertwined in the political arena.

It is written by Layeta Bucoy who has been tagged as the "female Quentin Tarantino of Philippine theater" because of her succession of written works for the stage that are considered gripping and violent.

These include Doc "Pogi" Resurrecion: Gagamutin Ang Bayan and Tinarantadong Asintado (an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus), which were both staged last year at the CCP Little Theater and Dulaang UP's Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater, respectively.

Bucoy's major plays reflect the prevailing socio-political conditions affecting our nation, with emphasis on corruption in different aspects of governance, and election related-violence that are rampant in many areas of the country.

It is for this reason that Tanghalang Pilipino chose to present Layeta Bucoy's Walang Kukurap, which opened to highly enthusiastic viewers last September 14, 2012 at the CCP Tanghalang Huseng Batute.

Among the guests during the opening night were noted politicians such as Senator Koko Pimentel, Congressman Teddy Casino, and the controversial NBN/ZTE whistleblower, Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada Jr.

"Malapit na ang elections [local and national], kaya kailangang pukawin ang isipan at kamalayan ng ating mamamayan," said Layeta in an interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) on opening night.

"Ang irony kasi doon, 'di ba, alam naman natin na corrupt ang paligid; alam natin maraming corrupt na pulitiko; at alam din natin kapag niloloko tayo?

"Pero ang issue doon, bakit natin pinapayagan yung mga nanloloko?" she asked.

"Dapat 'walang kukurap'!" exclaimed Layeta as she urged Filipinos to be more vigilant in their fight against corruption in many forms.

When asked about the tag "Female Quentin Tarantino of Philippine Theater" given to her, Ms. Layeta quipped: "Kakaloka! Nakakatawa at nakakatuwa!

"Nakakatuwa, kasi gusto ko si Quentin Tarantino, at ang mga pelikula niya.

"At the same time, nakakatawa kasi... parang hindi matutuwa ang nanay ko!" she said with a laugh.

The award-winning Hollywood filmmaker and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino is known for the martial arts flick, Kill Bill (Volumes 1 and 2) as well as the war movie Inglorious Basterds (2009). As screenwriter, Tarantino won an Oscar for the Original Screenplay of Pulp Fiction (1994).

COMEBACKING ACTORS. ABS-CBN Star Circle Batch 9 member Ced Torrecarrion makes a comeback in Walang Kukurap. He plays the role of Alex, a treacherous gambling lord.

Ced's wholesome personality, last seen in the Channel 2 soap opera Hiram, is a departure from the kind of character he agreed to portray in this play.

Noted danseur, Nonoy Froilan, also makes a rare stage appearance, as a "trapo" (traditional politician) and he said his role is very challenging.

The same holds true for Manila 6th District councilor and award-winning actor, Lou Veloso, whose scene at the close of the play's first act provides a shock that will long be remembered by theatergoers.

But the most notable of the "comebacking actors" in Walang Kukurap are the two female protagonists who both essay "bida-kontrabida" roles. Suzette Ranillo is the fiery mom Christina (to Delphine Buencamino's Mira) who got entangled in the web of political intrigues and violence. Mymy Davao plays Melba, an out-and-out corrupt and viscious politician's widow.

According to Suzette, it has been years since she last appeared onstage locally although she did a play, New Yorker from Tondo, for Pinoys in the United States.

"That was in November of last year," Suzette informed PEP.ph. "Dito, matagal na. I think the last one was Sisa pa yata for Noli Me Tangere. Matagal-tagal na rin.

"Doing Walang Kukurap is different because it's so intense. Nagkapasa-pasa pa nga ako. But it's very interesting--with all the blood effects--although kailangan lang habulin mo yung pacing. Otherwise, babagsak yung play."

For Mymy Davao, doing Walang Kukurap is totally refreshing.

"My last play I did some ten to 15 years ago pa!" she revealed.

Mymy informed PEP her last stage appearance was for a play called Mate (Checkmate) at the PICC. "It was directed by Ron Heritan; with Julio Diaz, Sylvia Sanchez as her co-actors.

"That was my first. And this is my second. I'm glad I did it!" she gushed.

Her last TV appearance was for a role in GMA-7's period drama series Amaya. "Puro TV guestings lang ako. Wala pang 'super-regular' [appearance]. That's why when I was offered this, I grabbed the opportunity."

THREE-FOLD CHALLENGE. According to Nanding Josef, TP's artistic director, "The straight play Walang Kukurap is a vibrantly new and highly experimental research-based contemporary production, which blurs the line between art and life, fiction and reality as it 'vivisects' the darkest parts of the Filipino soul.

"Holding no punches, it pounds away in search of answers, attacking the essence of corruption on multiple levels.

"It challenges its audience, philosophically, morally, and emotionally. It asks not to just point fingers at the monsters outside but also stare honestly in the mirror, at one's self, in homes."

Further, Tata Nanding noted, "Walang Kukurap is a forceful reminder that if people do not take the challenge to better this world, then there is no need to die to experience hell."

GATHERING THEATER NEWBIES AND VETERAN ACTORS. Directed by Tuxs Rutaquio, Walang Kukurap gathers an interesting mix of veteran actors and Tanghalang Pilipino's homegrown talents: the Actors' Company led by Jonathan Tadioan, Marco Viana, Regina de Vera, Nicolo Magno, Ralph Mateo, Remus Villanueva, Doray Dayao, April Joy Inigo, and Jovanni Cadag.

Among the veteran thespians who have successfully crossed over to the mainstream arts are Lou Veloso, Suzette Ranillo, Sherry Lara, Delphine Buencamino, Mymy Davao, Ding Navasero, Crispin Pineda, Paulo Cabanero, Peewee O'Hara, Nonoy Froilan, Sharmaine Suarez, and Ced Torrecarrion.

On special performance dates, Walang Kukurap features popular rapper Gloc 9.

For more details of the play, please visit Tanghalang Pilipino's official website at www.tanghalangpilipino.org.ph or contact TP office at Tel. No. 832-1125 locals 1620 or 1621 or +639177500107 or call TicketWorld at Tel. No. 2012-10-05891-9999.

Walang Kukurap runs on weekends, at 3 PM and 8 PM (Saturdays), 8 PM (Fridays) and 3 PM (Sundays) until October 7, 2012.

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In this scene (left frame) from Walang Kukurap, Jonathan Tadioan (Lu) strangles Marco Viaña (Marky) while Suzette Ranillo (Christina) tries to stop them. Lou Veloso (right frame) is also part of this play that tackles graft and corruption in a fictional town.
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