PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) officially closes its 50th season with Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, “‘Night, Mother.”
After an extremely busy year for the company, PETA is producing a Filipino adaptation of the Marsha Norman drama adapted by Ian Lomongo and directed by veteran theater actor-director Melvin Lee, who most recently starred in PETA’s critically-acclaimed musical, Care Divas. Lee mentions that it was initially senior thespian and theater director Soxie Topacio who was tasked to direct the piece prior to his unfortunate passing this year.
“I will take this play as an opportunity to pay homage to Mother Soxie na malaki po ang influence sa akin bilang isang theater artist and as a director,” says Lee. “At marami po sa amin sa PETA ay lumaki sa guidance at mentoring na binigay ni Mother Soxie.”
As a company that’s most known for staging big, original Filipino musicals, Lee and PETA Artistic Director Maribel Legarda wanted to stage this play to expand the company’s repertoire. The straight play only has two actors, theater veterans and film/TV actors Eugene Domingo and Sherry Lara, and runs for 90 minutes in real time. Domingo performs the role of Jessie, a divorced woman who reveals to her mother Thelma (played by Lara) of her plans to end her life that evening. Over the course of 90 minutes, Thelma desperately convinces her daughter that life is still worth living as they both tackle a wide range of issues, including mental health, suicide, and family dysfunction, among many others.
Lee mentions, “For me maganda siyang maisama sa season dahil […] bilang isang theater company, dapat iba’t ibang klaseng tema, iba’t ibang klaseng porma din iyung inihahain mo sa mga manonood para hindi ka pagsawaan. At the same time pandagdag iyun sa kadunungan namin bilang mga artist-teachers.”
Legarda adds, “It’s really to expand the repertory and also what we offer our audiences who come watch. But also its because nanggaling kami sa 50th year. PETA talaga of course you know us for our advocacies and for our really large narrative plays. So maganda rin that we thought that at the end of this very busy year […], we go back to something that’s very personal and very quiet. Like a chamber piece or a pas de deux.”
Domingo’s last theater production was in 2012 where she essayed the titular role of PETA’s stage adaptation of Lino Brocka’s “Bona” opposite Edgar Allan Guzman. After a successful slew of TV and film work, she comes back to the stage after a 5 year-hiatus.
“Gustong gusto ko magperform sa harap ng tao at sa harap ng camera mapalive man o tv o pelikula. Gusto ko lahat iyan e. Pero ang first love ko po talaga ay theater,” says Domingo. “Kung talagang papipiliin po talaga ako na isa lang ang gagawin ko sa buhay ko, theater po talaga iyun. So bumabalik-balik po ako sa entablado dahil ito po ang first love ko.” Domingo was a graduate of BA Theater Arts in UP Diliman.
“‘Night, Mother” opened on Broadway in March 1983 and was nominated for Best Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a play for Kathy Bates (who played Jessie) and Anne Pitoniak (who played Thelma), and Best Director of a Play for Tom Moore in the 37th Tony Awards. A film version starring Anne Bancroft and Sissy Spacek was released in 1986.
PETA’s “‘Night, Mother” will be staged from February 2 to March 18, 2018 at the PETA Theater Center.
You can buy tickets HERE.