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Posted by : Pinoy Screen and Stage Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Article by Reynald Russel Santos
Photos by Waldo Katigbak


Background

Tanghalang Ateneo, the longest-running theater company of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Loyola Schools, continues its 38th Season: De/Constructing Narratives with a production of the award-winning young adult bestseller “Si Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon” by Palanca awardee Edgar Calabia Samar.

Si Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon won the 2015 National Book Award for Novel in Filipino and the 2016 National Children’s Book Award for Best Read for Kids.

TA’s Si Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon was an adaptation by two-time Palanca First Prize winning playwright Guelan Varela-Luarca of the first book of the Janus Silang series. Si Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon takes place in the everyday world of an adolescent boy, Janus, who frequents the Malakas Internet Shop in Balanga where he plays TALA Online with his friends. But his world turned upside down when characters from his favorite computer game and comic books appear and disrupt his personal life thereby forcing him to confront the mystery of his bloodline and his destiny.



The artistic team of Si Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon is composed of Tanghalang Ateneo Artistic Director and Moderator Glenn Sevilla Mas, Charles Yee (Direction), Guelan Varela-Luarca (Adaptation), Gwyn Guanzon (Set Design), Mitoy Sta. Ana (Costume Design), Toni Muñoz (Sound and Music Design), Delphine Buencamino and Zyda Baaya (Choreography), and Gab Mesina, Diana David, and Victor Datu (Graphics Design).

The playdates of Si Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon are February 1-4, 7-11, 13-16, 18, and 21-25. Performances start at 7:30PM while Saturday matinee shows start at 2:30PM. For questions and additional details about the show, please contact Dean Silva at 0916-314-5475. 

Tickets are priced at 450php each. You may also reach TA through FB (facebook.com/TanghalangAteneo), Twitter (twitter.com/TAOfficial_), and IG (instagram.com/tanghalangateneo).


Review

   Tanghalang Ateneo’s Si Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon proudly retells the story of our folklore and mythical creatures in a modern Filipino way. It situates the Filipino mythical creatures away from the influences that our colonizers contributed. Sir Egay provided us with an imagined but concrete beginning of these folklores and created the connection, as well as the motivations, of all of these species of monsters, most especially, the Tiyanak. In his story, Sir Egay wants to change our Western-Christian concept of the unborn/unbaptized Tiyanak, and further own it as a Filipino construct, that’s why he brought us back to the Tabon Cave, where the Tiyanak was born. The Tiyanak was cursed by Bathala to kill parents who let their children die. It was the start of the creatures’ journey and, in Sir Egay’s story, these creatures, monsters, and protectors alike, lived amongst us and carried on with the advancements of modern technology.



The storytelling was so good that while watching it, I was in a trance. I forgot that I was watching a play. And this is something that rarely happens because I am easily distracted.

The actors and the ensemble were really talented. It’s the first theatre production of some (especially Janus and Mica!) but is not apparent as they are all very professional. The cast were carefully selected and directed, therefore giving justice to the characters. An important note, though, is how a more careful understanding of the characters and their archetypes may help in making the acting more dynamic. Voice projection is also very important as there are no lapels used, and might interfere with the music. The choreography is very creative and refreshing. Pasok sa banga. It gives the monotony of people in public places an emphasis which contributes to how the Kampon ng Tyanak could easily mirror human interaction and therefore hide in plain sight. It was the perfect kind of choreography that the play requires, and it delivered. The play on the lights also deserve a special mention as it is perfectly mounted to transport the audience to the universe of the story. The lights brought me to the classroom, the streets, inside Malakas, and even inside TALA Online, without me noticing it.

The costumes were very scary and they did a very good job in creating the physical appearance of the mythical creatures. The creatures’ costumes are surreal. It is very effective that seeing it feels like seeing the real thing with your own eyes. Their dancing silhouettes made me shiver on my seat. And when the Tiyanak came out, everybody freaked out, as it is looks really haunting. Galing! I also liked how the stage was maximized that no spot was left untouched giving the audience the fear that any moment, creatures could suddenly appear and take advantage of what Sir Egay calls Moments of Uncertainties.



The production design is meticulously made that it puts you inside and outside TALA Online at the same time – where Janus also spent most of his time discerning what is real. And it turns out that the intersection of both worlds is his realm as he is not just the person he grew up to be. The play on the shapes, colors, and the circuit board background transports the audience back and forth bringing the audience to the of confusion Janus is in. It is wild.

This play something we shouldn’t miss. No budget constraint has let Tanghalang Ateneo members stop them from mounting this wonderful production. Kudos to Tanghalang Ateneo for giving justice to the characters, the story, and even the creatures. 



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About the Author


Reynald Russel Santos is a freelance writer and performer, and is currently training as an Assistant Director for TV Production in ABS CBN. He is a graduate of BA in Broadcast Communication (cum laude) from the University of the Philippines in Diliman where he took up different theatre electives in the College of Arts and Letters (Philippine Theatre, Acting, Stagecraft, and Musical Theatre), as well as video and audio production electives at the College of Mass Communication. He has attended a number of improvisational and theatre acting workshops by PETA, NCCA, and Alyansa, Ink. He was also a member of the UP Pep Squad. In the future, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in Musical Theatre overseas.

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