LET THE PLAYS BEGIN: Manila Hosts Theater Olympics

Article excerpt

Byline: THERESE J. CAMET

"Has the Philippines been recognized as the "cultural hub of Asia?"

That is a good question that follows the Theater Olympics of the Nations which is now ongoing in Manila.

The Philippines is the first ASEAN country to host this event. The Theater Olympics is a major component of the 31st United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)International Theater Institute (ITI) World Congress.

"Why not?" said Dr. Isagani Cruz, overall UNESCO-ITI festival director. "It sounds very ambitious, but I think it's possible."

"We are very honored to host the congress, though it took Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, executive director of the NCCA, about 10 years to convince the UNESCO-ITI to come here."

According to Dr. Cruz, Ms. Alvarez attended every congress, which is held every two years in different parts of the world, and tell them what a wonderful theater we have in the Philippines.

Finally, in 2004, during the 30th General Assembly in Tampico, Mexico, they decided to have the 31st World Congress in the Philippines.

Held in Manila from May 17 to 31, the 31st UNESCO-ITI World Congress focuses on the "Ancestral Roots to New Artistic Routes of Expression: Mobilizing Cultural Diversity to Achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals."

One of the events was the leaders forum held last Monday, May 22, at the Manila Hotel. The organization leaders discussed issues concerning children, health, women, AIDS, environment, peace, partnership for development and cultural diversity.

Another is the World Festival of Drama Schools, a series of workshops participated by 150 drama students from 12 countries, ongoing until May 31.

The participants were sent to different provinces in the Philippines -- in Benguet, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Albay, Ilocos Sur, Iloilo, Palawan, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Bohol and Davao -- to interract with the local communities and study drama.

Highlight of the World Congress is the Theater Olympics of the Nations, an ongoing festival of plays featuring outstanding groups from Asia, Africa, Arab States, Latin America, the Caribbean, North America and Europe.

This theatrical feast formally started last Tuesday, May 23, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines with an opening show titled "Mabuhay: World's Art, One Heart."

Directed by Frank Rivera, it featured excerpts of the plays that have been lined up for the week-long event that runs until Sunday, May 28.

The Theater Olympics is featuring 30 plays from different countries ranging from traditional native drama, to classic Western repertoire, to indigenous and popular theater forms.

The performances are being held at the CCP, Manila Hotel, WOW Philippines in Intramuros and Emilio Aguinaldo College.

The plays were selected based on the (production) CD and reviews that the countries submitted to the Theater Olympics committee. …