Negrense stages play at a nat’l playwrights fest in CCP

Venise Buenaflor, the actor of Wala Nang Bata Dito, doing rehearsals and technical run at CCP last June 11

A Negrense theatre director is participating as the first regional artist to direct a play at a national playwrights festival this year at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila.

Tanya Lopez, leads the first region-based team at the 15th edition of the Virgin LabFest as the director of “Wala Nang Bata Dito” a gut wrenching monologue of a woman waiting for the authorities to take her child to prison.

The Virgin Labfest (VLF) is a yearly project of the Manila-based playwrights group Writer’s Bloc, Inc., acclaimed theater company Tanghalang Pilipino, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

This year’s theme is “The Virgin Labfest 15: Titibok-tibok”, as it presents all new, untried, and unstaged plays which engages with the heart and senses, Festival Director Tuxqs Rutaquio.

“Wala Nang Bata Dito”, written by Bicolano Sari Saysay is among the 12 one-act plays that will be staged in this year’s VLF at the theaters of CCP from June 19 to July 7, every 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Apart from Lopez, the play are also performed and managed by artists from Bacolod: Venise Buenaflor (cast), Dr. Adrian Torres (costume design), Roger Joshua Venzal (production/stage manager); and, Elvert Banares (poster design and multi-media projection) and Ottobots Hernandez (set design) who are both based in Manila but trace their roots in Iloilo.

Manila artists joining the collaboration are Francis Matheu (lighting design), J. Laspuna Villanueva (sound design); TJ Ramos (technical direction), Nikki Garde-Torre and Loraine Macatangay (over-supervision).

The other plays that will be staged in the festival are “Fangirl” written by Herlyn Alegre, “Huling Hiling ni Darling” (Raymund Barcelon), “Isang Gabing ang Buwan ay Hila-hila ng Gula-gulanit na Ulap” (Ryan Machado), “Unreachable Star” (Layeta Bucoy), “Anak Ka Ng” (U Z Eliserio), “Wanted: Male Boarders” (Rick Patriarca), “The Bride and the Bachelor” (Dingdong Novenario), “Surrogare” (Dennis Teodosio), “A Family Reunion” (Anthony Kim Vergara), “Ang Pag-uulyanin ni Olivia Mendoza” (Rolin Migyuel Obina), and “Larong Demonyo” (Nicolas Pichay).

The three returning plays from last year that will comprise the Revisited section include Allan Lopez’s “River Lethe,” Carlo Vergara’s “Edgar Allan Hemingway” and Dustin Celestino’s “Mga Eksena sa Buhay ng Kontrabida.”


The other new plays to be performed as staged readings are “Mula Kina Cain at Abel” (Mikaela Regis), “Lit” (Emmanuel Feliciano) and “Mema” (Joey Paras).

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

Rutaquio also said that one of the thrusts of the VLF is to expand the festivals to the regions. This resulted to the launching of the Extra Vrigin Labfest in Cagayan de Oro and the invitation for a region based artist from Bacolod City to direct a main feature.

The VLF production of Wala Nang Bata Dito is supported by The Performance Laboratory, Inc. a Bacolod based theater company that Lopez founded.