"Insiang" exacts revenge in the slums of Pasay

Ricky Davao (standing) fights with Paolo Rodriguez in thisscene taken from the stage play Insiang. Named ALIW Awards Best Play for2003, Insiang returns to the Cultural Center of the Philippines for alimited engagement.

Thirty-one years after the release of the classic film Insiang(1976), Tanghalang Pilipino once again mounts the stage version of LinoBrocka's opus as part of its 21st theater season. Directed by Chris Millado,the "live" theater version of the classic film will be staged at theCultural Center of the Philippines starting October 5.

Insiang was first developed as a radio play, thendramatized for television and then adapted for film and eventually the stage.All versions were written by Mario O'Hara. For this stage version, O'Haracreated a new character named Toyang who acts as the common thread linking allthe disparate lives in the story. Toyang was not present in the film version.Another difference is the fact that the action on stage takes place inPasay instead of the slums of Tondo.

In a bid to promote this provocative play, Tanghalang Pilipino and Bright EyedBoys Events & Ideas Inc. decided to hold a quad-media press conference thatharnesses the power of the Internet.

Apart from promoting the play through broadcast and print media, the Insiangpresscon had a simultaneous web cast. Bloggers immediately posted picturesand published blogs through their laptops equipped with Internet connectionfrom Airborne Access. The CCP Little Theater had a WiFi signal for the eventthat allowed laptop users to log on to the web. Interviews with the director,playwright, and cast members were shared on the Internet via web cameras.

Director Chris Millado explained, "The idea came to us when Zsa ZsaZaturnnah came out with an incredible amount of blog entries. One fanwatched it fifteen times and never stopped writing on her blog about it. So weconsidered blog marketing for Insiang, which is the wave of the future.Theater reviews are fewer in the broadsheets these days. Blogs have reinventedthe way we promote the theater. The Internet may just save the theater fromoblivion."


Another interesting feature is the unique wrap-around set to be used in theplay. "Audiences may also be seated within the set or [within] ‘spitting'distance of the actors. All they have to do is come forty-five minutes early. They mayeven be one of the labanderas," said Millado.

Producers warn ticket buyers that Insiang is for adults only because ofbrief portions of nudity and the strong, vulgar language used in the dialogue.

Playwright O'Hara explains, "Insiang is about the slices of truth thatare hidden from plain sight. How will you be able to show truth if you don'tshow it realistically? And people from the squatters really do curse that much.It doesn't take anything away from their humanity; it's just the language theyuse. And because the medium of film has censors, we weren't as free to write orshow the real language from the slums. In theater, it's freer in asense."

THE PLOT. The media and select bloggers were shown afive-minute sample of the introductory act. We were all transported to theslums of Pasay via the narration of Toyang (Mae Paner) and the acting of Dado(Ricky Davao), Insiang (Sheenly Vee Gener) as well as Ludy (Vannie Liwanag).Mailes Kanapi joined the production as Pacing, the mother of Insiang.

Insiang is a stirring drama about the transformationof a teenage girl from innocence to malevolence as she finds herself trapped bya life of poverty in the slums. Abused by the very people she trusts, Insiangrises from destitution and takes revenge against her abusers.

O'Hara explained that the reason the film was set in Tondowas because of Lino Brocka's obsession with Smokey Mountain. But as the writerof the screenplay and creator of Insiang, O'Hara insists he had Pasay inmind.

Director Millado said, "In order to get a better sense of the story, Mariobrought me there [Pasay]. And it was a small crack in between a billboard and awall. There was this narrow alley that led into the areas where people live invery confined and small spaces. This is the slice of truth that Mario was referring to that was hidden from plain sight."

O'Hara added, "People in their cars and buses, pass byevery single day, not knowing this world exists. Everyone knows an Insiang intheir lives. It's just a matter of looking and understanding."

Venue: Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Cultural Center of thePhilippines, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City

Performances: Show dates are from October 5 to 7 and 12 to14, with matinees at 3:00 P.M. (Saturdays / Sundays) and evening shows at 8:00P.M. (Fridays / Saturdays / Sundays).

Call Bright Eyed Boys for tickets, reservations, group bookings and specialdiscounts, at 521-0412 or 0922-8712007. For more details, visit Insiang'sofficial website at www.brighteyedboys.com/insiang.





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