Unique set of "Insiang" captures the "claustrophobia of the slums"

Dado (Ricky Davao) and Insiang (Sheenly VeeGener) lead their lives amidst the squalor of the slums, which is captured by thewrap-around set designed by Hesus Bobot Lota.

What makes the play Insiang unique is its wrap-around set. Walkways go from the stage to left and rightsides and into the audience. There's a whole section in front where the labanderas(laundrywomen) are at arms' length.

Ricky Davao, who plays Dado, touches himselfat the end of one of the middle walkways while describing his sexual conquests.Audiences are literally put in the middle of an urban shantytown that isunseen by most of the world. Even though you're at the Cultural Center of thePhilippines' Tanghalang Huseng Batute, you'll be transported to the world of Insiang.

Director Chris Millado explains, "The theater's shape is unique; audiences aresurrounded by the set and the action. Audiences are part of the play. And wemeant to do it that way. Our intention is for you to be transported into anunsettling place. The movie helps enhance the play. It's another level of the movie. I'd like to think we're more cerebral.It allows us to show the dark musings of Insiang. This brings us intothe inferno. The set captured it beautifully, the claustrophobia of the slums."


Award-winning writer, director and actor, Mario O'Hara's masterpiece wasoriginally written for radio then developed as a teleplay for the TV series Hildadirected by Lino Brocka. It was adapted by O'Hara into a screenplay for the1976 Manila Film Festival, starring Hilda Koronel in the title role, with MonaLisa, Ruel Vernal and Rez Cortez playing key roles. The late director Lino Brocka's movie becamethe first Filipino film to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival and went on towin plum awards for its director and leading actress Hilda Koronel.

Nearly thirty years later, Tanghalang Pilipino mounted the stage version in2002 as part of its 16th theater season. O'Hara also created a new character inToyang who acts as the thread for all the disparate lives in the story. Toyangwas not in the film version.

The differences between the play and the movie are apparent in two charactersthat O'Hara created specifically for the play: Toyang and Insiang's fatherBong. Millado explains, "There was a switch between melodrama in the movie.Mario's structure is to push the story forward. The Brechtian idea is that when you walk into a theater it doesn't haveto be reality. This is only a play. That's why Mario created the character ofToyang, she allows us to make commentary as well as function as a narrator."


What distinguishes this year's version differently from the previous cast is theentry of Mailes Canapi as Pacing, the mother of Insiang. Renowned playwrightRody Vera describes her performance: "I was impressed with Mailes Canapi. Sheprovided a balance between all of the violence and vulgarity of all the othercharacters. She was able to create a niche of her own. Playing Pacing that waywas a decision she was secure about."

Director Chris Millado leads the creative team in recreating the riveting 2002production, from the ensemble acting down to the highly detailed"hyper-real" staging. Hesus Bobot Lota designs the wrap-around set,with Joey Nombres and Jethro Joaquin doing lighting design and soundscape, respectively. The production also includes fight scenesskillfully choreographed by Jack Yabut.

Insiang is a stirring drama about the transformation of a teenage girlfrom innocence to malevolence as she finds herself trapped in a life of povertyin the slums. Abused by the very people she trusts, Insiang rises fromdestitution and takes revenge against her abusers.


For tickets to Insiang, you may call Bright Eyed Boys for reservations,group bookings and special discounts, at 521-0412 or 0922-8712007.

Performance dates: October 12 (8 p.m.)

October 13 (3 p.m. / 8 p.m.)

October 14 (3 p.m. / 8 p.m.)

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





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