Tanghalang Pilipino opens its 32nd season with “Balag at Angud”, an original Filipino musical written by Palanca Award-winner Layeta Bucoy about the life of protest installation artist Junyee.
“I never dreamed na darating iyung panahon na iyung buhay ko ay gagawin isang musical”, said Junyee at the press conference held last August 1 at the CCP Main Theater Lobby. “It’s a big honor. It’s very exciting for me kasi pambihirang nangyari ito.”
Now considered the Father of Installation Art, Junyee recalls how he started first started dabbling with the art form in the late 60’s. “I had my first one-man show outdoors in Diliman in 1970. My second one-man show was in Luneta in front of the Rizal monument. Wala naman pong pumapansin.” (laughs)
He shares how he struggled in the early years of his career, starting with his conservative Chinese father who was unsupportive of his passion for the arts. “Ayaw niya maging artist ako. Mamamatay daw ako sa gutom, which nearly happened actually, several times.”
He started forming his aesthetic during his ‘hippie’ days in Diliman. “I’m a hippie until now in my heart. So doon nagsimula iyung tanong na, ano ba ang Philippine art?” He says he was mainly protesting against the widespread influence of the West on our culture.
“I was doing quite well as a sculptor. Major ko iyan sa college. I have more awards than anybody for sculpture in my generation. Pero nagfocus ako sa installation because I really want to do something Filipino na based sa kultura natin, na pati ang materyales ay sariling atin.”
He says that it’s a very different story today when it comes to the art form. “Ang dami-dami nagcocommission sa mga installation artists ngayon. So it’s not a small thing now. They’re earning millions. Everybody now is doing installation. Even Ben Cab is doing installation.”
What is the essence of the musical? “The play is based on the struggle of an artist”, says Junyee. “This is not just for me. This is actually the struggle of artists who started something new.”
Audie Gemora, who serves as director for the original musical, says, “His story will not only resonate with artists, who in the pursuit of their art, has been met with seemingly insurmountable opposition and struggle, but with anyone who chooses to follow his heart and live accordingly.”
Playwright Layeta Bucoy shares, “I am hoping that this story would both inspire and pose a challenge to the audience through following the life of an artist ahead of us who struggled for his beliefs in his art and triumphed.”
The cast features prolific playwright Rody Vera in the titular role, with Dune Michael Garcia and Paw Castillo playing his child as well as his teenage self. Jonathan Tadioan plays Junyee’s father Luis, Astarte Abraham plays Marites, and Mia Bolaños plays Felisa. Bayang Barrios plays the role of Musa, Junyee’s muse, and members of the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors’ Company will play parts in the ensemble.
The creative team includes composer Dodjie Fernandez of Patatag, musical director Upeng Galang-Fernandez, choreographer Ava Villanueva Ong (assisted by Al Bernard Garcia), costume designer James Reyes, lighting designer John Batalla, sound designer TJ Ramos, projection designer Datu Arellano, and set designer Toym Imao (assisted by Marco Viaña).
Imao shares the daunting process of recreating Junyee’s art through the set design. “Iisipin mo, ano iyung gagawin ko that would somehow give you a sense of the immensity, a sense of urgency ‘nung kanyang trabaho. We’re trying to give you an idea of the environment because installation art is immersing oneself in an environment and it fits perfectly well when you use it in the language of a set design.”
The show will run from August 31 to September 16, 2018 at the CCP Little Theater (Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino) with shows at 3 PM and 8 PM, exclusive of Sundays (only 3 PM shows), with special shows on September 7 3pm, September 13 3pm and 8pm, September 14 3pm. Tickets are ₱1000 for VIP seating and ₱800 for Orchestra Side seats.
You can buy tickets HERE.
You can watch an excerpt of the song “Balag” performed by the cast in the video below.