When In Manila and you feel like the typical theater set-up is getting boring, then here’s something with a twist that’ll literally get you running!
Battle Royale Philippines
The show ran for a week at the CCP grounds. It was open to all and had no fixed ticket price! You simply pay whatever you thought was fit and you could already watch the play yourself. After its success, the group decided to stage it inside an abandoned school in Quezon City and have the audience literally run from one scene to another! We weren’t just watching it anymore, we were actually in it!
Battle Royale Philippines
Battle Royale Philippines or Battalia Royale is loosely based on the controversial Japanese novel by Koushun Takami entitled “Batoru Rowaiaru”. As director JK Aninoche shares, the novel was turned into a performance and worked on since November 2011! The story is basically about a group of students who were kidnapped given the chance to either KILL or BE KILLED. The goal was to have only ONE survivor in the end, otherwise, a collar attached to their necks would self-destruct and kill all survivors. The show would really have you at the edge of your seats –- if there were any!
To read more about the play, check out Vince’s review HERE as I will focus more on the actors and cinematography of it all. It will be much better to read the review first so you could understand this post better.
Battle Royale Philippines: The Preparation
Preparing for something like this is not easy at all, besides having to properly choose characters and prepare the script, actors would also need to prepare themselves physically and emotionally! If there’s one thing I learned from my theater workshops, it’s that you should NEVER act from the head but always from the heart. In short, actors should not imagine what action needs to be done in each situation, instead, they need to feel it so their bodies will show it. As Battle Royale Philippines Game Master Bodjie Pascua explains, “Ang nilalabas sa akin ng role sa Battle Royale Philippines is my inner rage and at the end of the performance when I’m in bed, I fall asleep at once and still feel tired the following day.”
Battalia Royale Player Board
Prior to the show, the group of Battle Royale Philippines had already set up a Facebook page to make it seem MORE REAL to the audience as well as the actors! Since the show was about a group of students coming from Guadalupe High School, the Facebook page they created was that of a class. Their professor, Kuya Bodjie, would post homeworks and assignments on the page for each student to do. The actors on the other hand also went out of their way to create Facebook accounts for their personal Battalia Royale personality! As Kevin Vitug, a.k.a. Sebastian Kiriyama shares, “I become a whole different person when I log unto my Sebastian account.”
“Battalia Royale is also an online performance, the characters are very much alive on Facebook and have been interacting since November.” says director JK Anicoche
On the Battle Royale Philippines “Our Lady of Guadalupe” Facebook page, an announcement of an upcoming fieldtrip was posted. The permission slip was even uploaded there for all to see!
Battle Royale Philippines permission slip
Battle Royale Philippines: Meeting the Members
I had the chance to meet and interview a few members of Battle Royale Philippines. It was really good to meet them, as well as see different sides of the cast members –especially after seeing them hunt each other down!
Battle Royale Philippines: Interview with Bodjie Pascua
Battle Royale Philippines Bodjie Pascua
Remember our days of BATIBOT with Kuya Bodjie? Well, Battalia Royale shows one side of him I never thought I’d see in a thousand years!
Kuya Bodjie plays the head teacher / game master in Battalia Royale who is responsible for bringing the students to the abandoned school where they play a game of “killers”.
Battle Royale Philippines Bodjie Pascua and “Kakai”
He shared how he’s real personality was far different from the role he portrayed in Battle Royale Philippines. “Pero nakakatuwa at nakakatakot na natutuklasan ko na a lot of this person resides in me, in all of us actually. And that is what’s so exciting about being an actor because you get to see into the darker sides of yourself and actually live out itong mga bahagi ng sarili natin na tinatago tago diyan,” as Kuya Bodjie explains.
Battle Royale Philippines: Interview with JK Anicoche
Battle Royale Philippines JK Anicoche
JK Anicoche is a free-lance actor, director, workshop facilitator for film, theatre, and television,and is also a prize winning storyteller. He is the director of Sipat Lawin Ensemble and in charge of the Battle Royale Philippines project! “Battalia Royale, it’s pandemonium! It’s an epidemic.”
“It’s interesting how after 5 performances, there’s so much discussion about the work, a lot of debate on what the piece is all about, but what’s important is that we were able to engage this much and theater is now relevant to at least more people as we push interventions, push the limits to the edge of everyone’s consciousness.”
Battle Royale Philippines: Interview with Sam Burns-Warr
Battle Royale Philippines Sam Burns-Warr
Jordan Prosser and Sam Burns-Warr are Melbourne-based writers, directors, filmmakers and performers, having graduated in 2009 from the Victorian College of the Arts and Swinburne University respectively.
I asked Sam what HE would do if HE were in the situation the kids were put in in Battle Royale Philippines, he laughed and said,”I guess I’d like to think that I would think about it rationally and try to get out of there or figure a way out but once you realize it’s kill or be killed then I guess there’s no other way out. I sort of think of myself like a Sebastian Kiriyama –gang leader, ruthless killer, ultimate badass. But I’m not sure, I’d probably be one of the weaker characters.”
Battle Royale Philippines Interview: Kevin Vitug (a.k.a. Sebastian Kiriyama)
Battle Royale Philippines Kevin Vitug
Sebastian Kiriyama, is an adopted son of two rich parents who always gets what he wants but is also completely ignored by them. He is a badass 16-year-old who likes to party, do drugs and even play with guns! He is a bully to his classmates and is “idolized” by his minions who are better known as The Kiriyama Family composed of Alab, Sanya, Paola, Erlat and Carmina.
“I had made a surprisingly viral video about “Spoiled Filipino Teenagers” on YouTube that went crazy like wildfire in just a few days. Sipat Lawin Ensemble’s PR person, Carlo de Castro, saw me at a Cinemalaya audition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and wanted to talk to me then but we had already left and when I got home, I made a YouTube video blabbing about how I just auditioned and people there recognized the video. It was intense. After which, the video of me vlogging was Carlo’s assurance that it really was me that he saw and it was also his go signal to invite me to audition for a possible role the theater company was brewing up. – I later found out that they were doing a character study of the “Spoiled Filipino Teenager” guy I had created.”
How similar or different are you from Battle Royale Philippines’ Basti?
Battle Royale Philippines BASTI in action
“When I was younger, I was a demonic brat. But at 16 (Basti’s age), I was already a decent teenager. Today, I am opposite my character Sebastian. It’s fun to play a character who doesn’t really match your real life personality. It’s terrifying though how some people associate my character to my real self. I think that’s why it’s important to talk to people who get to watch Battalia Royale, as well. Through that, they get to know you better and know the difference between Kevin and Sebastian.”
Battle Royale Philippines Interview: Joel Yuvienco a.k.a. Carmina Catalan
Battle Royale Philippines Carmina Catalan
“I was initially cast to develop the character of Ina Ho in Battle Royale Philippines during the period of device work. In January, JK reshuffled some characters and then cast me as Carmina Catalan (a complete opposite of Ina Ho). Carmina is one of those girls in High School that has this twisted notion that she’s on top of the food chain (next to Sebastian of course). She’s deeply in love with Sebastian Kiriyama and allows him to use her, convinced that someday he would love her back.”
“Carmina Catalan of Battle Royale Philippines is generally a complete opposite of me! To prepare for the role, I wrote a lot of lists in her way of thinking, how she sees Sebastian and the rest of the Kiriyama family, and how she hates her family. I’d read it over and over again until I came to the point of adapting those ideologies. Things were pretty easy afterwards especially with the help of my ates and kuyas in Sipat Lawin/ Battle Royale Philippines who would occasionally give their inputs that helped me tremendously through the process. I think I’m very fortunate also to have Kevin, Karen, Ji-ann, and Mariko as my “Kiriyama family”. They were a blast to work with and made exploring so much fun. “
Battle Royale Philippines Rerun
Battle Royale Philippines/ Battalia Royale was REALLY REALLY good and they are planning to do a rerun of it sometime in October or November! So DO keep yourselves updated by LIKING them on Facebook and make sure you don’t miss the next Battle Royale Philippines!
Battle Royale Philippines in action
Battle Royale Philippines: KILL OR BE KILLED!
BE UPDATED! Check out the Battle Royale Philippines pages here: