Karnabal: A Def. Defying Festival brings theater to a whole new level, When in Manila. It proves that plays don’t always need to subscribe to the conventional three-act structure. They could transgress norms and go beyond formula.
Karnabal: A Def. Defying Festival was held from Nov. 21 to 24 in Intramuros, the country’s premier artists and independent theater companies gathered to showcase performance pieces that were death-defying. depth-defying, and def(-inition) defying.
Presented by local theater group Sipat Lawin Ensemble and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Karnabal took art to the next level.
Different performance pieces were simultaneously held in various venues in the Walled City – the Manila Collectible, Heroes Square and the NCCA. Unlike regular shows where you fall in line, buy a ticket, sit down and wait for the show to begin. At Karnabal, each audience member was given liberty to plan their own “roller coaster ride,” depending on which shows they wanted to catch. Most of the shows were also blank-ticketed, allowing the audience to dictate how much they thought each show is worth.
The Main Platform featured original work from artists representative of fringe theater and performance-making in the country, including Sipat Lawin Ensemble, Anino Shadowplay Collective, Destiyero Theater Commune, Transitopia Contemporary Dance Commune, Eisa Jocson, Ea Torrado and Daniel Darwin.
Watch an excerpt from Eisa Jocson’s “Death of the Pole Dancer” below.
Aside from this piece, Jocson also showed an excerpt of “Macho Dancer,” her experiment in ‘macho dancing’ – the popular night club entertainment form prevalent in the country.
The Open Platform, on the other hand, featured the experimental work of performance-makers from different fields and backgrounds.
University of Santo Tomas’ Artistang Artlets performed two monologues – Manika and Isang Dakilang Mamamayan ng Republika. Manika featured a little girl talking to her mother’s “playmates.”
Watch an excerpt of Manika below.
Isang Dakilang Mamamayan ng Republika, meanwhile, narrated the woes of an old woman, selling turon and bananacue in the streets of Manila.
In Isabelle Martinez’ Appropriate Kissing for all Occasions, the audience joined intimacy coach Toni Espinosa as she – well, got volunteers.
Opaline Santos’ Listahan is an attempt at retrospection. It is a piece based on journal writing, news headlines, poetry and unsent letters…to real people, which she challenged the audience to send for her.
Glenn Mas’s Games People Play tells the story of three old friends, who met again after years apart and revisited their childhood in an attempt to understand why they are the way they are.
The play’s three actors – Thea Yrastorza, Abner Delina and Kalil Almonte – played all the characters in the story.
While the play directed by Ed Lacson Jr. mostly followed the adventures of children, it explored themes that needed PG.
Karnabal was put together in an attempt, not only to allow artists to explore new modes of performance-making, but also to reach new audiences.
Art cannot thrive in the country without our support. Plays that were shown in Karnabal are yet to be produced in the big stage. Instead of buying another ticket to the next adultery-themed blockbuster, why not support local, independent artists When in Manila?
text by: Angelica Pascual
photos by: Rich Mascarinas
photos by: Rich Mascarinas