“One of the major themes [of ‘Katsuri’] that we’re trying to punch up is the importance of empathy and fighting for each other versus the individualistic nature of people when faced with trying realities.”
By DAWN CECILIA PEÑA
MANILA – Fresh from the critical success of steampunk musical Mabining Mandirigma, Tanghalang Pilipino is offering yet another powerhouse drama with “Katsuri,” through the collaborative efforts of esteemed stage and movie director Carlos Siguion-Reyna and multi-awarded writer Bibeth Orteza.
A timely adaptation of John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men,’ the play “Katsuri” will tell the harrowing fight for survival of the Sakada (sugarcane farmers) in Negros, and how it tends to destroy lives and the people’s spirits, including families and friendships.
“Truth had no choice. Truth begged that the adaptation be written in such manner,” said Orteza before the media briefing in Quezon City, adding that the play had been in the works for more than six years now.
“Katsuri,” is a Hiligaynon word for shrew, which is either a rodent or a mouse. Orteza explained that the sakadas or sugarcane farmers are more like rodents now not humans, under the current situation.
The play will also pay tribute to a slain activist in Negros Occidental, who was killed at the onset of the increased military deployment in the said province.
“I felt that what was going on in Negros Occidental just couldn’t be ignored, especially after the assassination of Bernardo ‘Toto’ Patigas, activist and Bayan Muna candidate for Escalante City councilor, in the last elections,” Orteza said.
As a tribute, the lead’s name Lenny has been changed to “Toto.”
“One of the major themes [of ‘Katsuri’] that we’re trying to punch up is the importance of empathy and fighting for each other versus the individualistic nature of people when faced with trying realities. These are the questions being raised [by the production], which will emerge victorious in the dreamer’s fight against its reality, and [the choice between] empathy versus self-preservation, said Director Carlos Siguion-Reyna.”
The production goes onstage from October 4 to 27 at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Jonathan Tadioan and Marco Viaña, who plays Toto and George respectively, lead the talented ensemble, which includes the acclaimed members of the TP Actors Company – Antonette Go, Lhorvie Nuevo, JV Ibesate, Doray Dayao, Ybes Bagadiong, Eunice Pacia, and Manok Nellas. Guest actor Fitz Bitana is also part of the cast.
Theater veterans Michael Williams and Nanding Josef, also TP Artistic Director, complete the roster of actors tapped for the production.
The artistic team is composed of Bibeth Orteza, writer/translator; Carlos Siguion-Reyna, Director; Ohm David, Set Designer; Dennis Marasigan, Lighting Designer; TJ Ramos, Sound Designer; and Daniel Gregorio, Costume Designer.
Siguion-Reyna added, ““We’re hoping that this production will resonate with what’s going on – with our issues today, not just political but our own personal issues. Do we get involved? Do we fight for other people? Do we empathize or do we just stick to ourselves?”