Issue of November 5, 2017

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Lady inmates’ theater play vying for five Aliw Awards
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

An original theater production of the Bureau of Jail and Penology Baguio City Female Dorm is vying for awards in five categories of the prestigious Aliw Awards.

The 40-year-old award giving body recognizes achievements in the live entertainment industry in the Philippines, and a pioneer in giving awards for excellence in theatre, opera, dance, live vocal, and instrumental shows.

The BJMP Baguio City’s Anatomya ng Babaeng Pugita (The Anatomy of an Octopus Woman) is nominated in five categories, namely Best Ensemble Performance, Best New Concept Production, community theater artist Angelo Aurelio for Best Director for New Concept Production, and Hiromi Meguro and Benjan Natividad, both for Best Performance in a New Concept Production.

A first in the history of BJMP Baguio City, the Female Dorm inmates through their Alternative Learning System program under the leadership of Jail Warden April Rose Ayangwa helped create and themselves performed the Anatomya ng Babaeng Pugita, which dissects the characteristics of a woman/female inmate and that of an octopus to bring about the realizations on inmates’ failures, struggles for being tainted in the eyes of the society, as well as their victories.

Aurelio told the Courier in an interview that representatives of two Aliw Awards committees from Manila came to Baguio in June to watch the theater performance at the city jail multipurpose quadrangle, which became a mini-theater and helped blur the lines dividing the communities of people outside and those inside the jail.

Aurelio, a Baguio native, shared a complete module on community theater to the inmates as part of a series of ALS workshops coordinated by media practitioner Nonnette Bennett and the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club in partnership with BJMP Baguio.

He said Anatomya is composed of snippets of comic relief, monologues, a series of movement pieces, symbolic music, interpretative dance, and spoken word poetry; The story took shape from the inmates’ jargon that one is “posit” or “pusit” when found positive of illegal drug use or of any crime, and thus branded as an outlaw and tainted or blackened as that of the blood of an octopus when one is detained or has been to jail.

They dissected the anatomy of a woman and compared it to that of the octopus, came up with an image of entwined bodies of a woman and an octopus, and revolved on the inmates’ experiences of failures and struggles.

Aurelio employed improvisational acting, where, among other techniques, dialogues came from inmates themselves to lend authenticity to the story, and the words were polished to suit an audience.

“It was interesting because the play didn’t need superstars or famous actors, but we came up with a very powerful performance, because the story is closer to home and to their hearts. They even recreated some of their earlier experiences without missing a bit,” Aurelio said.

He added that based on these “hugots” or pull-out from their past and current plights, the female inmates’ creative and theater ensemble was able to show the beauty of decay, poignancy of darkness, and rays of light in their life and personality.

The 2017 Aliw Awards released the list of nominees on Nov. 1. Awards night is on Dec. 19.

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