Tanghalang Pilipino’s ‘Ang Pag-uusig’ Makes a Spectacular Comeback Onstage

Words by Hannah Angelique Bacani

Photos by Danielle Castillo and provided by Tanghalang Pilipino

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After the success of its first run and bagging six awards from the recent Gawad Buhay Awards, Tanghalang Pilipino’s Ang Pag-uusig, a translation of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, returns onstage with acts that keep the audience on the edges of their seats. Set during the 1692 Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts, the play makes us ponder how this dark and terrifying history could mirror the current political and social state of the country.

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Ang Pag-uusig, translated by Jerry Respeto and directed by Dennis Marasigan, opens with a frightened Reverend Parris whose daughter, Betty, is afflicted with an illness. His niece, Abigail, comforts him as a number of villagers drop by their home to check on Betty. Reverend Hale from Beverly also visits the young girl and evaluates whether evil works and spirits are at work in the village.  After being interrogated, Tituba, the house servant admits to being involved with the devil.

Soon, even more villagers are named and accused of being involved with the devil and witchcraft. One of them being John Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth. Sure of his wife’s innocence, he strives to prove it to the court. He admits being involved with Abigail in an effort to acquit his wife, but to no avail. Elizabeth is brought to questioning about her husband’s affair, but she lies to save her husband’s honor. Elizabeth tries to persuade her husband to lie about being involved with the devil in order to save his life but Proctor dies an honest man.

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Ang Pag-uusig received awards for Best Direction, Translation, Ensemble Performance, Outstanding Play, Male Featured Performance in a Play, and Male Lead Performance in a Play and it shows. To take it even further, the actors are given a bigger challenge as they play dual roles in this restaging of the production.

Ang Pag-uusig leaves its audience in constant wonder. Its age-old setting did not make it any less relevant in the present context. Director Dennis Marasigan says: “It is probably a testament to continuing relevance of the work that it is considered the most produced among Miller’s plays. According to him, one can tell whether a country has just come out of or about to fall under a dictatorship because a production of The Crucible serves as a reminder or a warning.”

Tanghalang Pilipino Ang Pag-uusig Rerun

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Tanghalang Pilipino’s Ang Pag-uusig (Rerun) will be staged from October 5 to 28, 2018 at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Cultural Center of the Philippines.