May 14, 2024 | Feature Release, Press Release

Three virgin playwrights undermine the intentions of decisions made, and reflect on how each arrives at choices in Virgin Labfest (VLF) 19: PINTOG. SET A. Dilemma, presents Hans Pieter Arao’s VENGEANCE OF THE GODS, Rick Patriarca’s LOVE ON THE BRAIN, and Lino Balmes’ NINGAS.

VENGEANCE OF THE GODS centers on the aftermath of a supernatural possession that happens in public. While the town mayor’s chief of staff tries to handle the situation, the father of the one possessed opposes him, trying to bring the staff along in his quest for justice. 

Based on an event in Cagayan, the playwright delves into his fascination in the continued trust, belief and credence still placed in folk beliefs even in this era of science and technology.  

His fascination led him to explore that theme because “It struck me that people still believe deeply in folk beliefs. So, I just wanted to explore that.” said Arao.  

Arao admits that his play doesn’t preach, but rather urges the audience not to forget. “If we forget, then how do we know there is even a problem,” said the playwright. The story explores the duality of science and traditions, and how it is linked to poverty and class struggle, as well as the division caused by diverse beliefs. 

LOVE ON THE BRAIN follows two ex-lovers who realize the grueling reality of modern gay dating, and the implications of dating someone with HIV. Through the play, the creative team hopes to educate the audience about HIV, and address the stigma about the sexually transmitted disease. More than that, it encourages the audience to protect themselves from misinformation on the virus.

Director John Mark Yap and playwright Patriarca emphasize to the audience, especially those afflicted with HIV, that the disease doesn’t define them. “There’s more to you than being a person living with HIV. Yes, the virus is in you, but your life doesn’t revolve around that,” said Yap. 

For the director, the play is an open discussion on the shallowness of modern dating. 

NINGAS talks about the concept of definition. The story revolves around a woman asking a man to give her a name. “It was written for people who can’t decide if they want kids or not, so they can have their story out there,” shared Balmes. 

In a nutshell, the play is a kid-versus-no-kids debate, where the characters show the struggles people go through to conform to societal expectations of building a family and having children.  

Director BJ Borja believes that this social conversation is not exactly taboo, but it is not talked about much.  “I think the legacy of VLF is to disturb the audience with the different aspects of life. VLF is one of the many projects of CCP that creates a movement to make sure Philippine Theater continues to thrive,” said Borja.

A playwright’s festival first and foremost, VLF doesn’t only give a venue for new playwrights a space to showcase their works, it is also a place for them to experiment through collaboration. “My vision for the story became clearer, especially with the director I have,” said Balmes. 

VLF 19: Pintog runs from June 12 to 30, 2024, at the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (CCP Blackbox Theater). Shows are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Other components of the festival are at 5 p.m. at the Bulwagang Roberto Chabet, 3rd floor, Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez.  For more details on the schedule and ticket prices, visit the official social media accounts of CCP, Tanghalang Pilipino, The Writers’ Bloc and Virgin Labfest on Facebook, X, Instagram, and TikTok.

VL19 Set A posters

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