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GUIDE: The Virgin Labfest 2023 Synopses, Cast, and More Details Announced

GUIDE: The Virgin Labfest 2023 Synopses, Cast, and More Details Announced

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Now on its 18th year, The Virgin Labfest (VLF), the festival of untried, untested and unstaged plays, returns to live stage, this time at the CCP Black Box Theater, this June 7-25, 2023.

Entitled VLF: Hitik, this year’s festival features 12 new one-act plays and 3 revisited plays from last year, and 4 new staged readings. A total of 7 Virgin (first time to be participating in the festival) playwrights, 6 Virgin directors, 4 women playwrights, and 4 women directors constitute this year’s VLF.

Also returning to the festival are the VLF Fellowship Program, the VLF Playwrights Fair, and the Theater Talks. These will all be held at the new VLF Lounge located at the basement of the CCP Black Box Theater.

The VLF 18 Writing Fellowship Program is a two-week mentorship program on the study and practice of dramatic writing for the stage. The fellows take part in lectures, discussions, and workshops on playwriting and script critiquing. They are given tickets to this year’s festival plays, as well as the opportunity to participate in the talkback and interaction with the festivals’ playwrights and directors.

Under the mentorship of award-winning playwright Glenn Sevilla Mas and CCP Artistic Director Dennis Marasigan, the fellowship program will be held from June 13 to 25, onsite at the CCP and will culminate with a staged reading of the fellows’ works on June 25, 2023, at 5 pm.

Theater Talks is a forum series where theater practitioners and the audience will have discussions on contemporary theater-making. Invited theater practitioners will share their experience and know-how on Lighting Design, Acting and Marketing. Through Theater Talks, the VLF hopes to nurture discussions on the possibilities of performance creation. This will be held on June 9, 16, and 23, at 5pm, at the basement of the CCP Black Box Theater.

A staple of the festival, the Playwrights Fair returns with more conversations with award-winning playwrights. Under the direction of Rody Vera it is slated on June 10, 17, and 24, at 5pm, at the basement of the CCP Black Box Theater.

Tess Jamias and Marco Viaña return as Festival Directors on their second year. They are joined by Sandie Javier, Clottie Gealogo-Lucero, and Nice Hervas (production managers), Daniel Gregorio (assistant production manager), Rafa Lubigan and Rodney Barnes (head stage managers), Roman Cruz and Loren Rivera (lighting designers), TJ Ramos, Jose Buencamino, Arvy Dimaculangan, and J Laspuña (sound designers), Carlo Pagunaling, Julio Garcia, David Esguerra, and Julia Pacificador (production designers), GA Fallarme (video projection supervisor), El Toledo (video projection associate), Justin David Santiago, Cross Baylon, Jana Gimenez, and Mitzi Comia (video projection apprentices), Roldan Lozano and Renz Sevilla (technical directors), Sir Anril Tiatco (dramaturgy fellowship mentor), Quinea Babas, Justine Libo-on De Lima, Jonas Garcia, and Alice Gonzales (dramaturgy), and Kat Batara, Roland Cartagena, Jucel Janoras, Janna La Victoria, Gentle Mapagu, Pat Maliwat, Fiona Miralles, Aima Noblejas, Steven Clark Peralta, Christen Eve Perez, and Ian Ramirez (dramaturgy apprentices).

Here are the featured works and the whole festival’s corresponding schedules.


1. O by Raymund Barcelon
Directed by Missy Maramara

Recently engaged, Astrid breaks up with her fiancée, Oliver, at the height of their lovemaking. Stunned with what happened, Oliver demands the reason behind the most awkward and traumatic break-up of his life. Hesitant at first, the incessant plea for an explanation eventually leads Astrid to admit that she never had an orgasm with him. Trying to save their relationship, Oliver tries to analyze the reason behind her lack of finishing in bed, much to the chagrin and uneasiness of Astrid.

Oliver: Juan Carlos Galano
Astrid: Aryn Cristobal

Production Design: Julia Pacificador
Sound Design: Arvy Dimaculangan
Lighting Design: Loren Rivera
Dramaturgy: Kat Batara
Poster Design: Zöe De Ocampo
Stage Management: Rico Angelo Blanco
Asst. Stage Management: Camilo De Guzman

2. 10 to Midnight by Juliene Mendoza
Directed by Sarah Facuri

Just before midnight, Billy gets another unannounced visit from his big brother, Bien, who is asking for money. However, tonight is the last straw for Billy. Their relationship is tested when they argue about life and Bien’s addiction.

Bien: Bombi Plata
Billy: Jerome Dawis

Production Design: Julia Pacificador
Sound Design: Arvy Dimaculangan
Lighting Design: Loren Rivera
Dramaturgy: Jucel Janoras
Poster Design: Sarah Facuri
Stage Management: Leah Marcelo

3. Regine: The Fairy Gaymother by Chuck D. Smith
Directed by Mark Daniel Dalacat

Frustrated by the pushy attempts of his mother to come out, Diego, a closeted vaklush to his family, receives a visit from his bonggang-bonggang fairy gay mother, Regine!  What follows is a surreal ride that will push the family to confront their inner shiwangs.  Will his father stop being urong-sulong?  Is his mother ready to fly high up on the wings of love? Will Diego shine like the stars from the heavens?  Ultimately, “Regine: The Fairy Gaymother” asks the important question: How can a family break the closet in all its forms?

Diego: Adrian Lindayag
Susan: Tex Ordoñez-De Leon
Jun: Ron Capinding
Regine Velasquez: Anton Diva

Production Design: Julia Pacificador
Sound Design: Arvy Dimaculangan
Lighting Design: Loren Rivera
Projection Design: El Toledo
Dramaturgy: Ian Ramirez
Poster Design: Paw Castillo
Stage Management: Danaraye Torres


SET B (REBELasyon)

1. Tuloy Ang Palabas by Layeta Bucoy
Directed by Tuxqs Rutaquio

Actress Solita was forced to take a three-year hiatus from acting after their gobernadorcillo decided to only hire Tondo talents to perform on their town plaza’s stage during the celebration of the feast of their patron saint. After successfully persuading the gobernadorcillo to allow local talents to perform once more, Solita is excited to stage her comeback. Surprisingly, on the day of her comeback, her niece, Adeling, who is a crucial part of the production, insists that they mount a different show. Solita tries to convince Adeling to go on with the staging of their original show by bribing her, poking at her conscience, and frightening her with the possible wrath of their patron saint, who is supposedly both subject of and reason for their performance. In the end, Solita is able to persuade Adeling. Unfortunately for Solita though, Adeling is dead.

Solita: Shamaine Buencamino
Adeling: Rissey Reyes-Robinson

Production Design: Julio Garcia
Sound Design: TJ Ramos
Lighting Design: Loren Rivera
Poster Design: Carlo Vergara
Stage Management: Kate Loreno

2. Ang Awit ng Dalagang Marmol by Andrew Estacio
Directed by Nazer Salcedo

Isang bagong dula ang binubuo ng isang grupo ng mga artista’t aktor hinggil sa isang popular at kontrobersyal na awitin sa kasaysayan ng bansa, ang “Jocelynang Baliwag” na matagal nang kinilala bilang ‘Kundiman ng Himagsikan’ at inihahambing sa larawan ng Inang Bayan. Nakatakdang maisadula ito bilang pagpupugay para sa isang bagong tayong tanghalan ng kanilang probinsya, ngunit sa kanilang pag-eensayo at ibayong pagtuklas, masisiwalat sa kanila ang mga hindi pa naikukuwentong katotohanan hinggil sa nasabing kundiman – mga bagong impormasyon na maghahamon sa titulo ng idinambanang awitin at makukumbinsi sa mga aktor na pagpanibaguhin ang dramatikong pihit ng kanilang dula – nasaan na nga ba talaga si Jocelynang Baliwag?

Direktora: Adrienne Vergara
Dramaturg: Kath Castillo
Aktres: Rachella Jasmine P. Balunes
Aktor 1: Andrew Cruz
Aktor 2:  Lorens Lapresca
Pianisita:  Dane Hinol
Matandang Pepita Tiongson: Peewee O’Hara
Koro: Jeremy Ampongan & Psyche Queen Dorothy Saberon

Production Design: Julio Garcia
Sound Design: TJ Ramos
Lighting Design: Loren Rivera
Dramaturgy: Steven Clark Peralta
Poster Design: Samantha Teoxon & Rainiel Abadejos
Stage Management: Sheña Claire Parnoncillon

3. Dominador Gonzales: National Artist by Dingdong Novenario
Directed by George De Jésus

Oliver visits former mentor and lover, Dmon, with a proposal to collaborate. Dmon is rumored to be in the running for National Artist and this collaboration will certainly help revive Oliver’s career as a playwright. As the pair reminisce about the simplicity of old times, Oliver, who admonishes  Dmon for the compromises he has  made to achieve his National Artist status, is also ready to make compromises of his own to get what he wants.

Oliver: Riki Benedicto
Dmon: Joel Saracho
Edward: AJ Sison

Production Design: Julio Garcia
Sound Design: TJ Ramos
Lighting Design: Loren Rivera
Dramaturgy: Aima Noblejas
Poster Design: George De Jesus
Stage Management: Renzo Arboleda


SET C (Y.O.L.O.)

1. Room 209 by Zheg Arban
Directed by Delphine Buencamino

“Room 209” chronicles the experiences of a 4th class cadet while inside a military academy.  From his entry as a brave and hopeful cadet – ready to serve his motherland with all his heart –  to his untimely death (partly caused by his inherited beliefs about loyalty and perseverance)  in a matter of months.

In a room that has become a witness to a culture that has lived on since men started throwing stones against their so called “mistahs” or brothers. “Room 209” is a testimony that puts this age-old culture into sharp focus;  so that we pay attention to how it has affected individual lives.

Darwin: Jao Catarus
Dexter: Gino Ramirez
Koro: CJ Barinaga, Denmark Brinces,  Raphne Catorce, Earvin Estioco & James Lanante

Production Design: David Esguerra
Assoc. Production Design: Jem Bravo
Sound Design: Jose Buencamino
Lighting Design: Roman Cruz
Video Projection Design: El Toledo
Dramaturgy: Gentle Mapagu
Poster Design: Gerson Abesamis
Stage Management: Chris Dagsil
Asst. Stage Management: Maui Tacto

2. Mga Halimaw Rin Kami by Jules Pamisa
Directed by Tat Soriano

“Mga Halimaw Rin Kami” (We Are Monsters, Too) revolves around the conversation between an aswang (a Philippine Ghoul cursed to only consume corpses because of his tragic past) and a manananggal (a winged female monster who severs her upper torso from her lower body). One night, on a rooftop of a house in a shabby neighborhood, Aswang, who is peacefully eating his dinner of human body parts from a local morgue, is interrupted when the frustrated and hungry Manananggal arrives to complain about her dire situation.  Due to the extrajudicial killings happening in the neighborhood, many humans are afraid to go out;  thus, affecting her usual hunt and food source and driving her into hunger.  They discuss their past and present situations.  As the night progresses, they discover what it truly means to be creatures of the dark. 

“Mga Halimaw Rin Kami” is an allegory of the normalization of the culture of killing and violence in the Philippines. 

Aswang:  Chrome Cosio
Manananggal: Skyzx Labastilla
Tambay: John Ven Soco
Pulis: Paul Jake Paule

Production Design: David Esguerra
Assoc. Production Design: Jem Bravo
Sound Design: Jose Buencamino
Lighting Design: Roman Cruz
Video Projection Design: Mitzi Comia
Dramaturgy: Janna La Victoria
Poster Design: Tat Soriano
Stage Management: Janix Bernardino

3. Hukay by Ophalain Serrano
Directed by Melvin Lee

One Friday afternoon, two men dig a grave for a horse they have cared for for thirty years. As they dig the grave, they also unearth their pasts and personal truths. From the acceptance of a trans daughter to a thirty-year-old unrequited love, Rico and Noel now face a new stage in their relationship.

Noel: Andoy Ranay
Rico: Floyd Tena

Production Design: David Esguerra
Assoc. Production Design: Jem Bravo
Sound Design: Jose Buencamino
Lighting Design: Roman Cruz
Video Projection Design: Cross Baylon
Dramaturgy: Fiona Miralles
Poster Design: Justin Besana
Stage Management: Janji Gamboa



1. Hawaii, Here We Come by Shenn Apillado
Directed by Mark Mirando

Ang dulang “Hawaii, Here We Come” ay kuwento ng paghihintay, pagtakas, at pag-asa. Habang abalang-abala ang buong palasyo sa biglaang pag-alis ng pamilya nina Madam at Mr. President para magbakasyon, inatasan sina Shirley at Angge na magligpit ng mga pinakamahahalagang gamit.  Sa pag-eempake ay may hindi maikakahon ang dalawang katiwala: ang kuwento ng pagkamulat at pakikibaka ng taong bayan. Sasama ka ba sa kalsada o tatakas katulad nila?

Shirley: Madeleine Nicolas
Angge:  Sheryll Villamor Ceasico
Madam: Gem Padilla-Thomas
Pabs: Victor Sy

Production Design: Carlo Villafuerte Pagunaling
Sound Design: J Laspuña
Lighting Design: Roman Cruz
Dramaturgy: Quinea Babas, Justine Libo-on De Lima & Pat Maliwat
Poster Design: Steven Tansiongco
Stage Management: Lyka Bernal
Asst. Stage Management: Gian Domine

2. Ang Tuyom by M. Manalastas
Directed by Gio Potes

Isang tuyom, isang dula, isang kahulugang hindi mahawakan. Sa mundong hinabi sa katotohanan at nayuyurak na isipan, pilit tinatagpi-tagpi ng mandudula ang nakaraan sa daratal pa lamang.  Bungkag ang paghahati sa buhay ng mandudulang si M na nakulong sa rehas ng sariling dayalogo.  Hinuhukay ang saysay sa kasaysayang binuo ng mga naglalahong karakter ng Mama, ng Irog, at ng Batang nakatali sa poste. Isang eksaminasyon ng sariling unti-unting pinakukupas ng lumulunod na lumbay sa pamamagitan ng kwentong inilahad sa tunog, sa larawan, sa amoy, sa pandama, at sa lasa ng kahungkagan.

M: Jude Matthew Servilla
Batang M:  Zöe De Ocampo
Ma:  Opaline Santos
Elimar: Serena Magiliw
Raul: Fred Layno 

Production Design: Carlo Villafuerte Pagunaling
Sound Design: J Laspuña
Lighting Design: Roman Cruz
Video Projection Design: Justin David Santiago
Dramaturgy: Roland Cartagena & Alice Gonzales
Poster Design: Roland Cartagena
Stage Management: Dolly Dolot
Asst. Stage Management: Istephen Artillero 

3. O’Donnell by Jerry O’Hara
Directed by Issa Manalo Lopez

Ang O’Donnell ay isang kampo militar sa Capas, Tarlac, kung saan inilagak ang mga libo-libong sundalong Pilipino at Amerikano na sumuko sa Bataan noong simula ng Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig. Dito umigting ng husto ang pagdurusa ng mga sundalong nakaligtas sa Bataan at sa “Death March”. Ito ay hindi kwento ng mga heneral at koronel, na siyang parating bida sa ano mang kwento ng digmaan; kundi, ito ay kwento ng mga ordinaryong sundalo na ginawang pamato sa laro ng pandaigdigang digmaan.

Peralta: Aldo Vencilao
Basa: Miguel delos Santos
Isleta:  Eshei Mesina
Baliw: Joel Garcia
Palma / Delfin: Ekis Gimenez
Palma / Delfin: Johnny Maglinao

Production Design: Carlo Villafuerte Pagunaling
Sound Design: J Laspuña
Lighting Design: Roman Cruz
Video Projection Design: Jana Gimenez
Dramaturgy: Jonas G. Garcia, Christen C. Perez & Micah R. Perez
Poster Design: Abigail Taniegra
Stage Management: Gera Corpus



1. Punks Not Dead by Andrew Bonifacio Clete
Directed by Roobak Valle

On the day of module distribution and retrieval, a mother complains to her son’s teacher regarding a discriminating item: “Ang tattoo ay simbolo ng pagiging kriminal.” As she shows her tattoo ‘Punks Not Dead,’ another parent, who happens to be a policeman, walks in.   As the characters argue about the item, the play shows what’s permanently inked with prejudice.

Mrs Apple: Via Antonio
Mrs Apple: Martha Nikko Comia
Bireng: Maria Bagio
Artur: Paulo Cabanero

Production Design: Julia Pacificador
Sound Design: J Laspuña
Lighting Design: Roman Cruz
Dramaturgy: Angelo Mangaliman
Stage Management & Poster Design: Maja Desuasido

2. Fermata by Dustin Celestino
Directed by Antonette Go-Yadao

A famous musician dies. A news outlet asks  the musician’s son – Ben – if he would like to write an article about his father: a tribute to a ‘music icon.’  Ben wants to use the opportunity to investigate rumors about his father. The play is about Ben’s visit to Alex, a childhood friend, to talk about the sins of his father.

Alex: Paolo O’Hara
Ben: Cris Pasturan

Set Design: Carlo Villafuerte Pagunaling
Sound Design: Arvy Dimaculangan
Lighting Design: Loren Rivera
Poster Design: Janel Gutierez
Stage Management: Camilo De Guzman

3. ‘Nay, May Dala Akong Pancit by Juan Ekis 
Directed by Karl Alexis Jingco

Mae discovers that she and her Kuya are stuck in a metaphysical loop of a Pinoy soap opera trope where every time her Kuya comes home with pancit, their mother dies. She struggles to convince her brother about the loop, suspecting that it is the pancit that causes the tragedy. But however much they try, for some reason, the pancit always finds its way to their home, resulting in tragedy.  The siblings must now find a way to escape the loop and save their mother once and for all.

Kuya: Lian Silverio
Bunso: Manok Nellas-Bagadiong
Nanay: Joann Yap-Co
Tindero: Tommy Alejandrino

Production Design: Io Balanon
Sound Design: TJ Ramos
Lighting Design: Loren Rivera
Poster Design: Reign Emmanuelle Geronimo
Stage Management: James Vincent Carreon



1. My Lover’s Presscon by Ross Manicad
Directed by Katreen Dela Cruz

In public, it’s easy for this reporter to cover the presscon of this spokesperson who happens to be his lover. In private, however, these men find it difficult to discuss their personal and professional relationships.

Harry: Dennis Marasigan
Joseph: Paolo Rodriguez

Poster Design: Ross Manicad
Stage Management: Keith Bautista

2. Kamay ng Orasan by Marc Noesis Marquez
Directed by Eljay Castro Deldoc

Pia and David devotedly revisit their old home to babble about their mundane lives.  Their fate seemingly finds a way to collide, back to the house, turning back time.  This has been their routine from every tick of the clock to eternity; trying to fondle the elephant in the room.  As Pia accepts to move forward, a new chapter begins to unfold and seeks a new tomorrow.

Pia: Sheenly Gener
David: AIR

Choreography: Cyril Balderama
Sound Design: Angel Dayao
Poster Design: Drew Espenocilia
Stage Management: Maia Obnial



1. Sino Ang Pumatay Kay Mr. Masangkay? by U Eliserio
Directed by Rolando T. Inocencio

Who killed Mr. Masangkay? His long-suffering wife, finally fed up with his violent ways? His lazy son, finally living up to his potential to be… a murderer? Or was it Mr. Masangkay’s sweet and loving daughter, who has secrets of her own? Join Inspector Beneral and Patrolman Bong uncover the mysteries of the Masangkay family, whose fates mirrors that of the Philippine middle class, its struggles and desires, its hopes and dreams.” Sino ang Pumatay kay Mr. Masangkay?” asks the question, what happens to the Filipino family under contemporary capitalism? (Capitalism. The murderer is capitalism. Capitalism did it. Or social media did.)

Inspektor Beneral: Vince Macapobre
Patrolman Bong: Mark Lorenz
Mrs. Masangkay: Heart Puyong
Boyet: Edrick Alcontado
Nora: Sarah Monay
Totoy Masangkay: Arjhay Babon

Poster Design: Mitzi Comia
Stage Management: Sandra Quintela

2. TBT: Takbo, Batang Tondo by Mikaella Yoj B. Sanchez
Directed by Chic San Agustin-de Guzman

Ang “TBT takbo, batang tondo” ay isang dula ng pagbabalik-tanaw sa ating kabataan bago pa nawili ang mundo sa teknolohiya at nawalan ng gana lumabas sa lansangan, at sa larong bahay-bahayan. Mula sa pagkatao nina Albin, Kyla, Tomtom, at Saymon, ay maipapakita ang itsura ng isang tahanan.  Dahil si Kyla ang may-ari ng mga laruan, nasa kanya ang desisyon kung sino ang mga may dapat na gampanan. Bilang bata, ang pinakamahalaga ay walang mag-aaway. Basta masaya. Ang lahat ay mapagbibigyan. Ang konsepto ng kanilang pamilya’y kakaiba at mayroon ding gaganap na masasama para may drama. Iba-ibang opinyon kung bakit mas nararapat ang isa sa gaganapan.  Si Kyla ang “ dapat “ masunod, pero si Albin ang itinuturing na kuya ng barkada. Sa huli, ang simpleng laro ay sumasalamin sa kanilang mga inuuwiang tahanan. Sa tirik ng araw, aalingasaw ang klase ng buhay na humuhulma sa kabataang “ pag-asa ng bayan “.

Tomtom: Rechelle Balasoto
Albin: Kim Mataac
Kyla: Wincess Yana
Saymon: Wade Dizon

Poster Design: Sage Tabanao
Stage Management: Paulina Quezon

Tickets and festival passes will be available by next week. You can check CCP’s social media accounts for updates.

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