By Angelo Lorenzo

The first Extra Virgin Labfest is on its way to lift the curtains for nine original, untried, untested, and unstaged plays by Mindanaoan playwrights this week. But besides the performances, which will take place at Liceo de Cagayan University’s Rodelsa Hall, this upcoming theater festival will shine the spotlight on additional events.

The festival’s official Facebook page posted on Thursday, November 28, 2019, the calendar of events. The opening gala, to be performed on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, will feature a twin-bill stage adaptation of Dominique La Victoria’s “Ang Bata sa Drum” and Maynard Manansala’s “Dalawang Gabi.”

The first Extra Virgin Labfest will feature nine original plays by playwrights from Mindanao.

Three sets for three days

All of the nine plays are divided into three sets. Each of these sets has a designated date of performance. They will all push through with a matinee performance at 3:00 PM, and a gala performance at 7:00 PM.

The first set, to be performed on Thursday, December 5, 2019, includes Gil Nambatac’s “Si Balaw u gang Lablab sa Palawpao”, Darren Bendanillo’s “Banga”, and Norman Isla’s “Daang Papunta, Daang Pabalik.”

The second set, which will take place at the same venue on Friday, December 6, 2019, follows Lendz Barinque’s “Ang Mga Babae sa Kusina”, Jim Raborar’s “Bulan”, and Aldren Alferez’s “Crystal Clear.”

Finally, the third set is set to feature Angelo Dabbay’s “Pultahan”, Reil Benedict Oblinque’s “Act of Contrition”, and Karlwinn Paitan’s “Unsay Koneksyon sa Iring?.”

These sets have been categorized according to the common themes of the plays. While the first set tackles issues concerning the indigenous communities in Mindanao, the second set takes on a more feministic approach with strong female leads in the three one-act plays. The third set, on the other hand, covers secrets, mystery, and confession.

Theater for education

Apart from the performances, this year’s Extra Virgin Labfest will showcase events that will highlight the vitality of theater in various communities in Mindanao. Some of these events include the Philippine Performing Arts Center meeting at Liceo de Cagayan University’s Old Board Room, the Production Management Lecture by Dominique “Nikki” Garde Torres, and the staged readings of another set of original plays by Mindanao-based playwrights.

Torres, whose expertise in production management has ranged from her experience working with the Cultural Center of the Philippines, will discuss the important aspects of this skill to produce a meaningful stage adaptation for all kinds of plays and performances. Admission to her lecture is free.

The staged readings will feature original one-act plays such as Linda Manalo’s “Hiyas sa Putikan”, Josey Rex “Tat” Soriano’s “Reyna”, and Abigail James’ “Birhen”.

With Extra Virgin Labfest’s grand performances this week, viewers may witness the growing appreciation for theater and the performing arts in Mindanao.

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