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Short Does Not Mean Lacking: Short+Sweet Theatre Festival

Famous for their 10-minute plays, Short+Sweet Theatre Festival is a theatre play festival where writers get the chance to have their scripts be realized in Short+Sweet’s stage. It originated from Sydney, Australia in 2002 and slowly began expanding, reaching cities like Dubai and eventually Manila in 2015.

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Short+Sweet theater play
Photo by Andrei Tolentino

Clearly, “The biggest little play festival in the world” did not just mean the length of the pieces performed. It also meant making sure that they made the most out of every second.

When we think of indie productions, we often think of movies or songs that offer something outside of the norm. Rarely do we associate it with theatre plays or musicals; we often see these as productions done in cinemas or high-end theaters. Little did we know, some of the best theatrical pieces sat right under our noses and took less than an hour of our time! Such an example is Short+Sweet Manila and their annual Short+Sweet Theatre Festival. 

The Short+Sweet Theatre Festival is a theatre play festival where writers get the chance to have their scripts be realized in Short+Sweet’s stage. It originated from Sydney, Australia in 2002 and slowly began expanding, reaching cities like Dubai and eventually Manila in 2015. While not limited to theatre plays, Short+Sweet is most famous for their 10-minute plays. These plays have become the opportunity for actors, directors, and writers get together to bring their creations to life.

This November, I had the chance to witness some of their performances that were held in The PARC Foundation in San Juan. There were 3 time-slots of shows namely the Wildcard, Mainstage 1, and Mainstage 2. The tickets were seemingly affordable at 350 pesos as compared to a full blown production and the means to get them were very simple. Not to mention, they provided a specific guide on how to get to the venue. Other than that, here are some ways that Short+Sweet show that they are indeed “The biggest little play festival in the world”. 

The diversity of themes and topics that they present

One of the things that make indie films great is the fact that they are given the liberty to tackle any topic that they see fit. Short+Sweet Festival’s plays are no different. The writers are given freedom on what they want to talk about in their works and it makes for some of the boldest yet most candid takes on some of the less-talked about topics in society.

The plays that I was able to watch gave unique takes on commonly tackled topics in today’s media, without being cliche or too predictable with the plot. They were also very candid on their opinions of the topics without being insensitive or offensive. The takes were open and honest, giving a straightforward depiction that ultimately prove a point by the play’s end. It was never too careful nor too brutal.

theater play open arms

The 10-minute format makes for interesting storytelling

One of the most popular characteristics of the Short+Sweet Theatre Festival is that the plays are exactly that: short and sweet. The plays are given only 10 minutes of runtime which leaves it to the writers, directors, and actors to come up with the best way to tell the story to the audience. Amazingly, they are still able to develop the characters as well as tell a deep and convincing story without feeling rushed or worse, lacking. They were also very creative with the plot twists each play had, leaving the audience in awe at the end of each play.

I had the opportunity to talk to one of the directors namely, Mr. Phillip Latonio. He was able to give some of his insights on the format. Latonio is a Thomasian alumni from the Faculty of Arts and Letters, who is also the director of the play “Misadventure Time”. He said that he finds the format “fun yet challenging” as he has to come up with a way to fit the writer’s vision within the 10 minutes that was allotted.

Theater sitting at table

Easily accessible for independent writers, directors, and actors/actresses.

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One of the things that Philip was able to tell me was how he found out about Short+Sweet Manila. He said that he was invited by a friend to join and has continued to follow Short+Sweet since. According to him, the process is relatively simple for someone who would like to be a director or talent. All they would have to do is submit a resume or CV when the openings come up and wait for a response. If accepted, they get the chance to select the script they want to direct from a pool of scripts submitted.

For writers who want to submit their script, the Facebook page as well as the website offer up instructions on how they can send in their work. The page serves as a means to notify and update actors, directors, and writers on the updates regarding their applications. Actors may also submit videos of their prior performances in place of an audition. Such is the experience of Angelo Del Rosario who had learned about Short+Sweet after a director asked him to audition to replace a cast member who had fallen ill.

Theater Auditions

Auditions being held for the Short+Sweet Theatre Festival. Source: Short+Sweet Theatre Manila Manila Facebook Page

A pleasant environment for everyone

The actors roamed freely around the venue as they were preparing for their plays. You can hear the support from each other as they traded uplifting words across the halls. There were also some who congratulated performers of the prior timeslot. The viewing angle was also at the eye-level of the audience which made the production that much more immersive. 

Philip Latonio stated that he enjoys participating because it allows him to meet new friends as well as to explore his creativity as an actor and as a director. Angelo on the other hand, finds it as an opportunity to escape from his job as a college professor. The experience also allowed them to explore a different type of style and in the case of Philip, used the experience as a gateway to other forms of theatre.

Short+Sweet bench

Short+Sweet Manila’s theatre festival proved to be a showcase of some great talents that may not have been appreciated without their stage. It offers an experience that captures the imagination of their audience and inspires the creativity of their artists. The broad range of topics and the candid takes on these topics provides a refreshing new look that audiences will surely enjoy or at least respond to. Add to that the affordable price and the friendly staff to match, and you will surely have a great time in “The biggest little play festival in the world.”

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Marcos is still not a hero

After everything that has been, is Marcos still your idol?

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MARTIAL LAW ANNIVERSARY 2018. (Photo by Christine Annemarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb)

When we look a few years back, we remember that one of the biggest political controversies we have encountered is Ferdinand Marcos’ burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani. The rites were private and intimate for the family and he was also given a 21-gun salute. Is this 21-gun salute an ode to the 21 years that Marcos has ruled as a kleptocratic dictator? This event has garnered negative criticism since a number of Filipinos don’t consider Marcos as a hero. It may have given peace to Marcos’ family, but it caused the victims of the Marcos rule to remember a grim chapter in their lives.

A few days into the present year, Bongbong Marcos sent out a statement calling for the revision of history books used in the academe, which he deems are only teaching the students lies about what his father, former President Marcos, has done. He believed that those from the opposition are in control of the data in published materials, that’s why it is so against his father. He also claimed that the contents of these textbooks were just used as propaganda against their family and that the allegations that his father was a thief and murderer were never proven. The thing is, if these allegations weren’t true, then why was the Presidential Commission on Good Governance recovering money from the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth? 

During Marcos’ rule, Proclamation 1081 gave the military power to arrest, detain, and execute those who are standing up against the government or those who are pushing other people to do so. A proclamation like this is set to violate a series of human rights, and yet it went on for several dreadful years. According to Amnesty International, about 70,00 people were imprisoned and 34,000 were tortured under Marcos’ term. 

In 1991, Marcos was found guilty by the US Federal Court system of ‘crimes against humanity,’ which covered torture, summary executions, and forced disappearances. The Philippine Constabulary was the law enforcing body during those times and was notorious for being liable for numerous human rights violations. Take the case of Dr. Juan Escandor, a Radiation specialist from the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital, who was involved in nationalist initiatives and even founded a leftist student organization, was killed by constabulary troopers that ended in a crossfire. Though authorities say that he died due to the gunfight, his autopsies show signs of torture, with his skull emptied and filled with trash, plastic bags, rags, and underwear, and his brain placed inside his stomach cavity. 

Bongbong Marcos has always justified his father’s ways. Although he acknowledged the numerous human rights violations that were committed during his father’s regime, he says that people should also remember the numerous projects his father launched, which includes thousands of kilometers of roads built, progressive agricultural policies, power generation, and the highest literacy rate in Asia. However, could these projects ever compensate for the pain inflicted on the victims of Martial Law? Even if the Marcoses’ contributions to the country are worthy of acknowledgment, it is not a valid argument to be used to push the people to leave their dreadful experiences in obscurity. Marcos apologists can’t tell others to just ‘move on’ because failing to acknowledge the people’s grievances during Martial Law is purely insensitive.  You can’t just tell people to forget such inhumane acts brought about by a leader they all trusted to lead them through progress. 

Recently, it was shared to the public that House Bill No. 7137 was approved to declare September 11 as ‘President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day’ in Ilocos Norte, which aims to honor the late dictator. Senate President Vicente Sotto III then said that bills with local applications like this are usually easily approved in Senate hearings. This, in turn, has sparked controversy and garnered criticism from the people.

Members of different rights groups and numerous people have expressed their disapproval of this bill. They say that this bill encourages the alteration of narratives of the dark days of Philippine history under Martial Law during the Marcos regime and that it practically promotes the invalidation of what people went through during the strongman rule.

We ought to #NeverForget the numerous accounts of torture and abuse that normal Filipinos went through. In case one forgets, the Twitter account @PangulongMarcos is devoted to tweeting daily on whether Marcos is a hero today.

The approval of this bill not only pushes to erase the kafkaesque events in our history that took place during Martial Law, but it also neglects the loss of the people who mourned for the loved ones that they lost in an all-out battle against the provisions of a power-hungry government that only sought to assert dominion over the people it ought to serve. It also makes us look at tyranny straight in the eye and just be resilient about it, without being able to #ResistTyranny. After everything that has been, is Marcos still your idol?

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Why “Pinoy Pride” exists in online Filipino culture

The toxic “peenoise” that flock and bash personalities misinterpreting the culture are the same ones that gather in posts which have the slightest hint of Filipino culture.

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Artwork by Ana Victoria Ereño/TomasinoWeb

Filipinos entering the foray of different online media allowed for Filipino culture to gain an even larger audience, but it inevitably exposes aspects that would otherwise only be seen within our borders.

Emman Nimedez and Lloyd Cadena’s passing has shown how impactful online media has become for the youth. While traditional media like TV and radio broadcasting maintains the largest audience in our country, we have slowly crept into the online world with the rising presence of Filipino personalities. Though this puts our heritage on a much larger stage, it has unfortunately exposed the pitfalls in our society. Any Filipino browsing comment sections on their favorite social media and video platforms will have inevitably seen the words “peenoise” and “Pinoy Pride” on their screen at least once, usually bearing a negative connotation. How have Filipinos managed to set themselves apart so negatively online that it yielded such labels on online platforms?

“Peenoise” was a term originally coined by online users within gaming communities to refer to Filipinos who are considered to be toxic in-game. Now, it is generally used to describe Filipinos who exhibit toxic behavior online, such as trolls or bullies. On the other hand, Pinoy Pride is another aspect of “peenoise” that is less aggravating but is much more reflective of who we are as a society. Pinoy Pride revolves around being endlessly proud of a Filipino personality for achieving something that led to global notoriety. 

How have Filipinos managed to set themselves apart so negatively online that it yielded such labels on online platforms?

These behaviors, ironically enough, could be coming from the Filipinos’ prioritization of family values. The toxic “peenoise” that flock and bash personalities misinterpreting the culture are the same ones that gather in posts which have the slightest hint of Filipino culture. Our innateness to find “kababayans” and treat them like family could both be a blessing and a curse in situations where we band together to defend our identity. This is even exploited in media channels that release “Filipino-themed” videos where personalities would experience Philippine culture or would have a part-Filipino cast member be the center of the content.

Another aspect that could be contributing to these online behaviors is the lingering effects of crab mentality in our society. As this blog puts it, we are quick to throw praise and be proud of our own people once they achieve success, but are also quick to call something “cheap” if it has not achieved prominence. But this even goes beyond Filipino artists as any individual who has the slightest hints of being Filipino is quickly embraced and celebrated as if they were our own. We like living through other people’s success as if they were one of our own, yet we pay no heed to those still climbing the ladder and even go as far as ridiculing them for their efforts. 

The toxic “peenoise” that flock and bash personalities misinterpreting the culture are the same ones that gather in posts which have the slightest hint of Filipino culture.

Finally, these attitudes don’t really hinge on being Filipino, but rather being Filipino outside of the Philippines. Pinoy Pride only begins to matter once something done by a Filipino gets recognized outside of the Philippines. This can be attributed to the Filipino’s “American dream” or the notion that the ultimate goal as a Filipino is to make it outside of the Philippines. 

If we ask most college students what their goals are after graduation, it will probably be about building their careers until they can go abroad. Whether it’s nurses, teachers, or artists, they’re usually aiming for a career outside the country and for good reason. The same professions would normally be paid less here, not to mention having to work harder just to get paid half of what they would’ve made had they gone off to work abroad. 

A few weeks ago, a wave of posts took Facebook by storm as Filipinos started sharing images from Harvard and placing either themselves in the context of being Harvard students or Harvard being a university in the Philippines. While this short-lived trend was merely humorous for most, it shows how we ultimately aspire to live a life outside the country rather than to flourish within it. It shows the condition which we live in and how we’ve had to make do with subpar standards in our country.

In summary, the “peenoise” and “Pinoy Pride” attitudes that Filipinos are showing online is not about patriotism, but rather defensiveness and the desire to live better. They hinge on the strong family ties Filipinos are known to have which, while bringing a strong sense of unity, also brings to light the aforementioned “crab mentality” that some tend to have. Ultimately, it comes down to the desire to live a better life than what our current social and political situation allows. 

In summary, the “peenoise” and “Pinoy Pride” attitudes that Filipinos are showing online is not about patriotism, but rather defensiveness and the desire to live better.

Much like how we’ve stood out in beauty pageants and boxing, we also stand out as audiences but in an unflattering light. While such behaviors do not necessarily include all Filipinos, these do exist in our online space. We have the ability to change this and, while we cannot enforce it onto others, starting with ourselves can be a huge step in the right direction. Rather than embodying the bad sides of our culture, we can showcase our most prominent characteristic: bayanihan.

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Cramming Playlist: Buzzer Beats

Yeah, it’s big brain time.

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Artwork by Ayeesha Panotolan

The most dreadful time of the semester is here and with it comes every student’s best friend: cramming. We all know that it’s an ineffective and unhealthy way to retain information. Yet, we still choose to condense weeks worth of lectures into hours of late night study sessions because it somehow still gets the job done. 

Studying in the wee hours of the morning means you need something to keep you and your brain awake and functioning. Below, we’ve compiled a playlist that will surely get those neurons firing as you burn the midnight oil.

 

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