FRIENDSHIP. In Romeo Narvaez’s “Dula Ta!”, two children from different religions commune in friendship as they attempt to play a game amidst the war raging in their community.
By Angelo Lorenzo
A year after the Marawi siege, The Xavier Stage (TXS) will embark on a theatrical tour that will highlight issues concerning the plight and struggles faced by war-torn communities in Mindanao.
Known as "Singanin - Plays of Aspiration," the twin-bill production will take center stage at Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology, Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan, and Holy Cross High School in Camp Phillips, Bukidnon this September.
One of the resident repertory theater companies handled by the Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts (XCCA), TXS is among this year’s Cultural Exchange Local Tour Grantee by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) through its Cultural Exchange Department.
With the grant allowing recipients to “present either the history, traditions, and culture of their community or region,” TXS traces the roots of conflict in many afflicted areas in nearby regions.
RIFT. Characters in Romeo Narvaez’s “Dula Ta!” experience the atrocities of war as conflict heightens.
In honor of Peace Month
Singanin, which is the Meranaw equivalent for the term, “aspiration,” commits to the advocacy that parallels with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace on September 21.
The tour recognizes unity and common understanding amidst diversity and differences.
This sets accord with the themes of the one-act plays TXS will present: Arthur Casanova’s “Nang Lumuha ang Mga Tala sa Gitna ng Lawa” and Romeo Narvaez’s “Dula Ta!” Casanova’s depiction of a Meranaw family in the 1970s residing alongside a lake and conversing about the state of conflict between paramilitary groups in Lanao del Sur is reminiscent to the innocents who had been caught in the crossfire of extremists and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in present-day.
Narvaez’s poignant tale, on the other hand, conveys innocence between two children who, despite their differing religions, hold on to their friendship in the armed rift during the tragic Pikit War in Cotabato, which was ignited by religious separatists.
Although TXS has gained a reputation for staging local narratives over the years, this wouldn’t be the first time that the theater company will perform relevant plays by acclaimed playwrights. TXS has been staging Singanin since 2016.
By portraying the lives that reflect the victims of war, the tour aims to educate audiences about the causes and effects of the prevailing conflicts.
A TAPESTRY OF CULTURE. In Arthur Casanova’s “Nang Lumuha ang mga Tala sa Gitna ng Lawa,” a Meranaw family is caught in the armed conflict between paramilitary groups and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Lanao del Sur.
Theater for education
As TXS fosters artistic initiatives, the Xavier Ateneo resident repertory theater company aims to use the tour as an opportunity to educate students in the schools where the production will take place.
Following the CCP grant’s objective, as well as that of Xavier Ateneo’s Office of Mission and Ministry’s advocacy to advance socio-cultural formation, Singanin will further the cause to promote art as an avenue for intercultural understanding and peace-building among the people in Mindanao.
Audience will be given free admission to watch the twin-bill production. TXS artists, composed mostly of Xavier Ateneo students, alumni, faculty and staff, will portray the roles of the characters. XCCA director Hobart Savior takes the lead as the production’s artistic director.
Its run will officially begin on September 18 at MSU-IIT and will conclude on September 29 at Holy Cross High School (refer to photos for schedule).
Although play dates and venues may differ, Singanin - Plays of Aspiration will help spread awareness about the common ground shared by people in Mindanao - the aspiration for peace to resolve religious and ethnic conflicts.∎
TRAGEDY IN THE FAMILY. Stricken by grief, characters in Arthur Casanova’s play depict the plight of the innocents who become victims of the armed conflicts.