In the heart of the MSU-IIT, the hub of Culture and the Arts in the South.
It was impressive theatre. The audiences responded with wild applause through a long curtain call after the MSU-IIT Integrated Performing Arts Guild (IPAG) performed “Sita: The Ramayana Revisited” representing the country for the 4th time in the Asia Pacific Bureau (APB) of Theatre Schools since its election in 2013.
IPAG – the Philippines’ most-travelled repertory company – joined the 8th APB at the SIA Theatre in the Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore with 23 other universities in the Asia Pacific from June 6-11. In Singapore, the resident company of the MSU-IIT has performed to consistent acclaim first at the Victoria Theatre for the International Arts Festival and just recently at the Esplanade dans Festival.
The blurbs were generous. Wrote Filipino musician-choral master par excellence Joel Navarro, now based in Singapore: “….brilliantly appropriated in Filipino musical dress, drama, and dance by no less than Steven himself and his amazing pool of student and staff collaborator-artists.… the theater piece comes to life through seamless staging, chiaroscuro lighting effect, and resonant singing from its eight players.… a proud and nostalgic moment….We have many artistic treasures in the Philippines. Steven’s jewel looms large… Steve will win his National Artist Award yet.”
Australian theatre fringe icon Sarah Miller now with the University of Wollongong writes: “… a visually and theatrically rich reworking of the ancient Hindu epic. This is an exciting production by a wonderful ensemble of young performers, whose vocal and physical dexterity and vivid characterisations brought this work to life… in every way delightful. You name it – great, spectacular, powerful…. just great!”
More: “It’s just too incredible to comprehend that you guys [IPAG] were able to create something like that….” from Adam Marple, faculty, Lasalle.
“…moving… wonderful job!” Rinske Ginsberg, former Chair, Melbourne Fringe, and Faculty, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Australia.
Established under UNESCO’s International Theatre Institute, the APB promotes exchange among Asia-Pacific theatre schools. (Members are invited, endorsed, and voted in to the network after a meticulous process of application.) Member schools gather annually for a festival, conference, and workshops on practices and pedagogy they conduct and share. The network also is a hub where exchanges, resource sharing, and creative collaborations take place.
IPAG, accepted a member after initiation as a Guest School in 2012 in Taipei, also performed at the Shanghai Theatre Academy last year.
Lasalle played host gathering 19 performances, 200 participants, 29 workshops in an event that shared practice and craft, a directors’ meeting, and three forums, among other events, all in 6 days.
APB members include the Western Australia Academy of the Performing Arts (most notable alumnus – Hugh Jackman), University of Melbourne, Shanghai Theatre Academy, Hoseo U of Korea, Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts, Lasalle, Chulalongkorn (Thailand), Korea National University of the Arts, Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture, My Phat Center for Professional Training (Vietnam), National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, Taipei National University of the Arts, New Zealand Drama School, Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music (Japan), Universiti Sains Malaysia, University of Brunei Darussalam, University of Teheran, and the University of Wollongong.
Ateneo de Manila, also representing the Philippines, offered an impressive one-actor performance entitled “Songs of an Electric Soul.”
IPAG conducted a workshop on its signature idiom, the pangalay, and a discussion by its Artistic Director and “Sita” playwright Steven P.C. Fernandez in the forum “Body and Voice in Contemporary Performance Pedagogy”.
The Philippine presence through the MSU-IIT IPAG was made possible by a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and support for the MSU-IIT Cultural Development Office, the Office of the Chancellor, Cultural Center of the Philippines, and Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation.
IPAG looks forward to participating in the 9th event in New Delhi next year.