Monday, January 12, 2009

OH NOH, SARSUWELA IS NOT DEAD! (September 15, 2008)

Last Saturday afternoon, the University of the Philippines turned Japanese.
Or was it Italian?
Once more the UP Center for International Studies – under the leadership of its Officer-in-Charge Dr. Amparo Adelina C. Umali, III – produced another Noh-inspired play entitiled The Italian Restaurant.
This drama of masks, the Noh is told not just through dialogue but also through utai (singing), hayashi (musical accompaniment), and, say, movement like the Dance of Senzai (that began in the 10th century from Okina, its oldest prototype) which is still performed -- only by Japanese men!
Again, the Special Advisor for Cultural Exchange of the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan, Dr. Naohiko Umewaka acted, wrote and directed the said play with Noh influences just like what he did with his The Coffee Shop Within the Play – also shown at the familiar Aldaba Recital Hall and at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) during the International Theater Festival in 2006.

That year, it was also Dr. Umali who spearheaded – through the UP/CIS, the Japan Foundation Manila and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts -- another breakthrough in Hudhud and Noh: A Dialogue of Cultures at the Pulungang Claro M. Recto, Bulwagang Rizal in UP Diliman.

Quite admirable is Dr. Naohiko who can still find time to train UP students and other Filipino artists since 2005 despite his hectic sked by sharing the theatrical experiences he got as one of the youngest Noh Masters at 9 – both from the DNAs of his father Umewaka Naoyoshi, the legendary actor, and his grandfather Umewaka Minoru, who is responsible for saving the Noh Theatre from extinction in 1868!

What sets him apart was his habit of hybridding the East with the West after finishing AB Comparative Culture at Sophia University and Doctorate in Drama at Royal Holloway of the University of London.

Aside from the theatrical form popular during the 14th century, another musical is being re-viewed, revived, and revered – the sarsuwela.

The Filipinized zarzuela of the 1st century Europe put moro-moro to death -- according to Severino Reyes' R.I.P. -- written in 1902, the year he also wrote Walang Sugat that gave birth not only to the Gran Compañia de la Zarzuela Tagala but to the Golden Age of sarsuwela too!
This year, fresh from the success of Komedya Fiesta 2008: First National Festival from last February at the Amphitheater, UP headed by College of Arts and Letters (CAL) has launched the Sarsuwela Writing Contest with the following rules:
  1. The Contest is open to all Filipino citizens of all ages (including Filipinos holding dual citizenship). Collaborations (i.e., one author and one composer) are allowed.
  2. The theme of the contest is “Amor, Vida, Patria” (Love, Life, Nation). The story may be historical or contemporary in subject matter. The work must follow the three-act structure of the sarsuwela and must be written in Filipino. The sarsuwela should not have been previously staged or published.
  3. The deadline for submission is 30 October 2008, Thursday, 5 p.m. Entries sent by mail or courier should be postmarked no later than the same date of the deadline.
  4. The judges shall choose one (1) winner to be announced on 15 November 2008.
  5. The author and the composer shall equally divide between them the contest cash prize.
    If he or she wins, the prize is P200,000.00.

Next year will be the National Conference on the Sarsuwela.

We are inviting scholars, teachers, students and theatre practitioners to submit papers that investigate the Sarsuwela from various perspectives.

Interested parties should submit two-paragraph research abstracts on or before 10 October 2008. Abstracts that have been selected for presentation will be announced on 17 October 2008. Completed papers, with an approximate length of five thousand words (standard format), should be submitted to the organizers on or before 12 December 2008.

Those who wish to participate in the conference as official delegates will be charged P4,000.00 for the conference fee, with a ten percent discount for participants who can pay on or before 17 December 2008.

The conference will start on 25 February. It will end on 27 February 2009.

Hard copies of research abstracts can be forwarded to the Dean’s Office , College of Arts and Letters, 2nd Floor, Bulwagang Rizal, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City. Soft copies can be e-mailed to the following address: The abstracts should also contain the researcher's name, affiliations, a brief bionote, and contact information. Inquires can be sent via the same email addresses, or through telephone number 928-7508.

Speaking of theater, playwright Malou Jacob and stagecraftsman Monino S. Duque were among the eight individuals and an organization who were bestowed recently the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining for their outstanding achievements and contributions to Philippine arts and culture at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo.

Completing the list are Felicitas L. Radaic (Dance); Gilopez Kabayao and Corazon Pineda Kabayao (Music); the late Francisco V. Coching (Visual Arts); the late Manuel Conde (Film); Pitoy R. Moreno (Fashion Design); Rev. Fr. Rodrigo D. Perez III, OSB (Cultural Work).
The Philippine Folk Dance Society received the Tanging Parangal.

The Gawad CCP Para sa Sining is for artists or groups of artists who have consistently produced outstanding works, enriched the development of their art form. The award is also given to cultural workers, who through their works in research, curatorship and administration, have helped to develop and enrich Philippine art and culture.

The flea can jump 350 times its body length. It's like a human jumping the length of a football field.

Avoid three enemies of personal peace:
regret over yesterday's mistakes
anxiety over tomorrow's problems
inattention to today's blessings.

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