My Jagged Take on VLF9

Last June 26 to July 7, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, together with the Writer's Bloc Inc. and Tanghalang Pilipino staged the "untried, untested and unstaged plays" for the 9th time.  The Virgin LabFest 9 mourns for the loss of one great theater artist, Ms. Ama Quiambao.

Similar to what I have done last year, I will be naming my favorites and not so favorites.  Again, plays in SET E: Revisited are not considered here.

My Favorite VLF9 Actors: Chrome Cosio in Kapit (Set A), Jelson Bay in Isang Daan (Set B), JP Gedang and Lovern Calucay in Chipline (Set B), Fernando Josef in Pramoedya (Set D)

My Not So Favorite VLF9 Actors:  Amando Quintana Jr in Imbisibol (Set A)

My Favorite VLF9 Actresses: Sherry Lara in Kapit (Set A), Opaline Santos in Kudeta! Kudeta! (Set A), Carme Sanchez in Pamamanhikan (Set C), Kiki Baento and Skyzx Labastilla in Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady (Set C)

My Favorite VLF9 Directors: Melvin Lee for Kapit (Set A), JK Anicoche for Pamamanhikan (Set C), Chris Martinez for Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady (Set C)

My Not So Favorite VLF9 Directors:  Roobak Valle for Ambong Abo (Set C), Marlon Rivera for Owel (Set B)

My Favorite VLF9 Playwrights: George de Jesus III for Kapit (Set A), Liza Magtoto for Isang Daan (Set B), Bernadette Villanueva Neri for Pamamanhikan (Set C), Carlo Vergara for Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady (Set C)

My Not So Favorite VLF9 Playwrights:  Benjamin Pimentel for Pramoedya (Set D), Jimmy Flores for Kudeta! Kudeta! (Set A)

This year I was able to watch staged readings that I really enjoyed and how I wish that it would be staged or produced!  Minsan May Pumara, Minsan Ma'y Pumara written by Marc Escalona Gaba and directed by Alison Segarra was my favorite staged readings I've seen this year.

The second anthology of selected plays performed at the Virgin Labfest from 2009 to 2012 has been released this year.  And of course, I got me a copy already!  I think I was able to see 13 out of the 16 plays there.  It would really be a fun read!

I'm also glad to be part of the Showcase of the Virgin Labfest 8 Writing Fellowship Program.  To read and be part of this culminating event was a pleasure.  It is inspiring to see the budding playwrights and it gives me hope that there is indeed a future for Philippine theater and it really is something worth looking forward to.

It is with a heavy heart that this year we all mourn for the loss of a great actress, Ama Quiambao, who was supposed to act in Pamamanhikan (Set C).  She lost consciousness during their first run and passed away about the same time as the last run of their show was running.  Her works and legacy will forever be cherished and celebrated.

Next year will be a milestone for the Virgin Labfest: 10 years!  It has been said that we will all revisit the past 9 years of VLF.  It would be nice to see the plays that I missed!

Let me know what are your favorites and not so favorites this year and what are the ones you want to see next year!  Comment away!

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The Jagged Barn

Your oblivious but observing blogger.


  1. Thanks! Marc (E. Gaba) here, with similar wish re a production. . . I'm glad that you mentioned so many actors/actresses. VLF9 was just the second VLF that I've been able to see, but now I can say with some certainty that the talent on stage is overwhelming. If I based my faves on those whose performances were so truthful and masterful that I ended up wanting to write something that would require them, it's Lui Manansala, Dante Balois and Joe Gruta (and now that I think about it, a work in progress can accommodate alterations to suit them)... I think Melvin Lee's handling of material is remarkably confident and sensitive, not one moment misplaced. (Tuxqs Rutaquio's direction of the reading of Layeta Bucoy's "Jun Ispater" was the same--the elegance of the stage movement was particularly unforgettable, and Layeta's script really did put a world onstage--without a smidgen of melodrama--a world that I didn't expect to care about [except cursorily or officiously or in a look-I'm-a-do-gooder way; I once taught at UP so my feelings about students and UP are complex] but did because of her play.)... If there's something I wanna quibble about, it's this: I really don't understand why some actors break the wall and, ORATE--to the audience when the material clearly isn't asking for such a move, or worse, when the move destroys the moment that all playwrights work hard to set up. It's such a desperate actor's decision, I think, that I hope will be avoided... Anyway, Tad, of course, is brilliant, but everyone knows that already :-) Plus you've already singled out Kiki. Also, Labastilla...Vergara...Hernandez for the great music... Neri...Magtoto...I think one of the actors in Chipline has a great future... Alegre...De Jesus...Fajardo...Adrienne Vergara...the actor who played the Fil-Am in "Isang Daan"... the actor who had the Sta. Ana speech in "Kuneho"... It felt great to work with Alison: very straightforward while making the actors feel free... [Note: I missed three of the readings, "Unang Regla...", "Owel" and SET: darn :-( ]

  2. Thank you, Marc, for dropping by and sharing your thoughts! I certainly agree with you in terms of actors that ORATE.. And I really enjoyed your play a lot and hope it gets staged soon and I get to see it! Don't put that pen down, keep writing! And looking forward to see your other great works come life on stage! Let me know!!