Negrense director, artists headline play in CCP festival

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BACOLOD CITY — A coalition of Negrense theater artists led by director Tanya Lopez are headlining a one-act play in the 15th edition of the Virgin Labfest (VLF), a national playwrights’ festival, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

In this year’s event, themed “The Virgin Labfest 15: Titibok-tibok”, is presenting 12 one-act plays at the CCP theaters from June 19 to July 7.

Lopez, who founded the Bacolod-based theater group The Performance Laboratory Inc., is the first regional artist to direct a play in the annual project of the Manila-based Writer’s Bloc Inc., theater company Tanghalang Pilipino, and the CCP, in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

“In the past years, Bacolod artists based in Manila like Erik Matti and Lawrence Fajardo have been part of VLF. However, this is the first time they invited a region-based director with a team of artists coming from the same place to join the festival,” Lopez said.

Lopez is directing “Wala Nang Bata Dito” written by a Bicolano, Sari Saysay. The play depicts a gut-wrenching monologue of a woman waiting for the authorities to take her child to prison, with Negrense Venise Buenaflor as the actor.

“Wala Nang Bata Dito” will still be shown on June 26, 27 and 30, July 2, 5 and 6 at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino.

Other artists from Bacolod who are part of the production include Dr. Adrian Torres as costume designer and Roger Joshua Venzal as production/stage manager, along with Elvert Banares, in-charge of poster design and multi-media projection, and set designer Ottobots Hernandez, who are both based in Manila but trace their roots in Iloilo.

Also, part of the collaboration is Manila artists Francis Matheu for lighting design; J. Laspuna Villanueva, sound design; TJ Ramos, technical direction; Nikki Garde-Torre and Loraine Macatangay, over-supervision.

“I am blessed to be working with both young and established artists from the regions and Manila who are equally passionate and committed as I am,” Lopez stated.

She furthered that through the Negrense team’s participation in the VLF, they not only represent the Bacolod artists, but the Visayas network and all the other region-based artists as well.

“I hope that this opens doors for more networking and collaboration among artists from different disciplines and geographical locations,” Lopez added.

Festival director Tuxqs Rutaquio stated that for this year’s edition, the VLF is presenting “all new, untried, and un-staged plays which engage with the heart and senses”.

“One of the thrusts of the VLF is to expand the festivals to the regions, which resulted to the launching of the Extra Virgin Labfest in Cagayan de Oro and the invitation for a region-based artist from Bacolod City to direct a main feature,” Rutaquio stated.

The VLF 15 also introduces “Once They Were Virgins” — two sets of staged readings featuring the first works of established playwrights Jun Lana, Chris Martinez, Liza Magtoto and Chris Millado.

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