What is a sarsuela? Long before the kalyeseryes and reality shows, this is one of our very own entertainment. If Shakespeare is now a specific theater genre, the Philippines has the sarsuela. Although it is not originally ours since we got it from Spain, we adapted it in our culture and written many sarsuela pieces.
What makes sarsuela different from any staged performance? It is a lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken or sung scenes. But there are also different variations from different Spanish colonies.
From what I watched, a sarsuela is always sung and it is always stuck in one period of time. Pinaglayang Minahal is not an old sarsuela piece but a winning work of George de Jesus III for the centennial celebration of the Philippine revolution.
The story is set during the revolutionary campaigns of the Katipunan and in a household of a Philippine upper class family, there is a secret love between an Illustrado and a commoner. It may appear like a material from today's modern tele-novela which the modern audience can appreciate. I was also oriented that this sarsuela material is a shortened version of the original material which can run for 4 hours. This was only 90 minutes since the purpose was a technical theater thesis. There are also symbolic interpretations of some parts like the oversize Moriones-type head of the Spaniard civil guards.
This production is part of a thesis for Technical Theater course of College of Saint Benilde. This was the last batch presentation of the course by Batch 112 and they will be graded according to their technical aspect of this production. Although the purpose of the production is purely academic, the students are already given professional exposure because there are professional theater actors and a professional theater publicist working in this production for proper exposure. You can say that this student batch was given an immersing experience how to work in the real theater production.
I never got to see other batch presentations but I can see a fully-polished production that can be done in a professional theater. Whatever is the verdict of the panel for this presentation, I am sure it is for their improvement because they could do more than what they did.
I was glad that I was able to watch this since it is my first time to see a thesis work in a theater course. For more theatrical reviews, follow this blog and like L.E.N.S. blogs on Facebook.