PETA returns to the Rajah Sulayman Theater for “Ang Buhay ni Galileo”


Philippine Educational Theater Association’s (PETA) vision of a Filipino theater was first realized within the historic ruins of the Dulaang Rajah Sulayman Theater. For its 50th Anniversary, the company returns to its original home for three special evenings from November 29-December 1, as the company presents one of its iconic productions, Bertolt Brecht’s “Ang Buhay ni Galileo” directed by Palanca award-winning playwright Rody Vera, featuring Joel Lamangan as Galileo.

“Ang Buhay ni Galileo” revolves around the life of the 17th century astronomer Galileo Galilei whose discoveries changed our understanding of the universe. Galileo disputed many theories and provided proof that all things do not revolve around the Earth, which drew the ire of the Catholic Church.

First performed by PETA in the early 80’s “Ang Buhay ni Galileo” was directed by eminent theater personality, German National Theater director Fritz Bennowitz, who earlier worked with Brecht’s own Berliner Ensemble.

Ang Buhay ni Galileo
Galileo Cast on stage

Translated by Alan Glinoga, the play was one of the best translations that PETA has produced through the years. It was critically acclaimed and was considered as one of PETA’s most exciting productions during this period.

“Ang Buhay ni Galileo” is also a beautiful and powerful showcase of the “Aesthetics of Poverty”, a theater design philosophy developed by renowned visual artist and PETA curriculum director Brenda V. Fajardo who has always believed that “an artist, rich in imagination can achieve maximum results from inexpensive materials.”

In the play, Fajardo employed minimal sets, costumes and props. Instead of conventional costumes usually associated with historical period settings, the play used yards of dyed muslin for costumes, choosing certain colors to symbolize different characters.

“This play was so unforgettable, not only in terms of acting and discourse, but also in the indigenous use and play of cloth. In one scene, Galileo was pleading his case with the Pope. As he was stating his case, the Pope was being dressed in yards of endless white sheets. By the time this was completed, the Pope says “No” to Galileo’s plea. The image of the Pope wrapped in white is that of the absolute authority of the institutional church,” shares PETA president CB Garrucho.

Aside from its artistic merits, the play was also considered as one of PETA’s most iconic plays for its intelligent discourse on absolute authority, power and knowledge in a highly religious context like the Philippines.

Ang Buhay ni Galileo
Bodjie Pascua

It has been 30 years since PETA first staged Galileo and nearly 80 years since playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote the first version of A Life of Galileo. Yet this famous piece, which underscores the struggle between static worldviews, and dynamic knowledge, still remains to be relevant today.

PETA’s new version of “Ang Buhay ni Galileo” features a roster of senior and young PETA actors and alumni: Joel Lamangan, Upeng Fernandez, Jojo Atienza, Jack Yabut, Gold Villar-Lim, Roi Calilong, Gie Onida, Shé Maala, Kiki Baento, Bodjie Pascua, Boy Aquino, Bene Manaois, Joseph Madriaga, Fredyl Hernadez, Norbs Portales, Manny Pambid, Jason Barcial, John Moran, Ian Segarra, Neomi Gonzales and Archi Adamos; plus guest artists Randy Villarama, Arlene Paderanga, Noel Comia, and Omar Uddin. The play features music by Dodjie Fernandez and lighting design by Ian Torqueza.

“Ang Buhay ni Galileo” runs for only three special evenings at the Rajah Sulayman Theater. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime chance to see PETA again in this beautiful theater space. Tickets are only Php600 each.

You can buy tickets HERE.

For more details about what’s happening in the Manila theater scene, please view our Theater Calendar.

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