“Some places in Asia cannot get their work out there because of their censorship policies. If it doesn’t pass the country’s Board of Culture, it won’t get performed or shown,” Andrei Pamintuan of Fringe Manila starts off the press conference of Fringe Manila’s fifth year with a serious note. “Artists used Fringe Manila as a springboard and platform to exercise their freedom of expression. We became sort of a safe space to their works that we feel should be heard.”
On their fifth year celebration, Fringe Manila continues what they have started back in 2012—having modern Filipino art uncensored. But the magnitude of the festival has amplified ever since their launch two years ago. It shows in their lineup preview of contemporary artists. Expect young artists’ projecting their unique visions and thought-provoking advocacies on stage; from theatrical puppetry to mental health.
“Fringe Manila is an open-access festival where everyone and anyone can enter. There are no limits for artists, and the artists we feature come from all walks of life. We have artists who always push boundaries, from doing work in progress pieces to stage pieces,” Andrei explains Fringe’s advocacy further. “We hope through festivals likes these, artists will get support from government institutions.”
With these great intentions in mind, here are some of the performances people might want to look out for in Fringe Manila 2019.
Raflesia Bravo’s “K-raze”
We have to admit, Filipinos are swept away by the Hallyu wave for a while now. But did any of us wondered why we gravitate towards Korean culture? Did it ever cross our minds why most of us prefer Korean pop culture over our own?
Theater actor and performance artist Raflesia Bravo chose to explore this phenomenon through dance.
“It started out when I had a curiosity on the K-pop phenomenon in our nation,” Raflesia explains a little bit more about her first dance show. “This performance is more of understanding why we like them. I break the aesthetic of K-pop where everyone’s white, pretty, and cute as well by being brown as well. Let’s try to discover with me why this phenomenon is happening in our country.”
Catch Raflesia’s performance at Fringe Manila at Feb. 24 and 25th.
Puppet Theatre Manila is changing how we see puppets
When we think of puppets, we don’t think of them performing in serious contemporary art spaces. We see them in children’s shows like Sesame Street and The Muppets Show. Though there’s nothing wrong with this assumption, Filipinos have yet to see puppetry elevated in the likes of performance art and as a more serious form of storytelling. This is where the new organization Puppet Theatre Manila enters.
“We want to introduce puppetry in our local theatre scene. Puppet Theatre Manila’s goal is to bring puppetry as another form of storytelling as well,” Kayla Theodoro of Puppet Theatre Manila explains their advocacy. For this year’s Fringe Manila, the group will bring a Carabao Puppet made of indigenous materials to life. What and how will the storytelling unfold is a secret that Puppet Theatre Manila will keep under wraps ‘til next month.
Discovering “Lucinda’s Big Opening”
Our idea of drag in our country has been hugely influenced by the pop culture fame of Rupaul’s Drag Race. Slowly but surely, Filipino drag fans are learning different forms of drag beyond the show’s context. Brian Moreno’s alter-ego Lucinda Sky might give baby drag fans a new perspective of how vast drag as an art form really is.
Lucinda Sky’s “Lucinda’s Big Opening” is an autobiographical drag performance based on the artist’s personal experiences from last year. “These performances will be breaking the fourth wall, so there are no separation between the performer and the audience.” It will also showcase Lucinda’s abilities on stage; from playing the guitar to lipsyncing for her life.
A fresh take on visual mediums by Adam Red, Chino Carlo, and Dar San Augustin
This open access celebration for contemporary artists across the nation wouldn’t be complete with visual artists. Let young artists like painter/collage artist Adam Red, watercolor painter Chino Carlo, and photographer Khaki Theodoro bring you a new perspective on these mediums people have come to familiarize themselves with.
Adam Red’s “Ang Paghuhubad ni Maria” puts Filipinas front and center, focusing on morenas and the personification of “Maria” as the idealized Filipina archetype. Catch his exhibit at the Pineapple Lab on Feb. 19 to 26.
Photographer and lecturer, Dar San Augustin is breaking the notion of needing a camera when doing photography through cyanotypes (photographic blueprint). Her cameraless photography exhibit called “Prussian Blues” will debut at Fringe Manila. On Feb. 8, we would witness her interactive exhibit that will be a two way communication between the artist and the audience.
Pineapple Lab and Fringe resident Chino Carlo will showcase his watercolor artworks that dissect the process.“When I started doing watercolor, I feel like the pieces were perfect already. So through them, I question how long do you say that your artwork is merely for practice?” His works will be exhibited in Commune Cafe at February 8 to March 17. He will also hold a workshop on watercolor portraiture at the same venue during Feb. 16 and 17.
Let’s talk mental health with “Every Brilliant Thing”
At Fringe Manila 2019, this one-woman play by Duncan Macmillan will have its Philippine Premiere. “Every Brilliant Thing” stars Theresa Herrera in an hour and 20-minute interactive show. “We feel it’s time to continue the conversation with Mental Health in the Philippines. After all, art imitates life,” Khaki Theodoro of Every Brilliant Thing refers to the passing of our Mental Health Law late last year.
As this play toured around London and New York, director Jenny Jamora brings the play into the country’s context by having elements that are uniquely Filipino. Another brilliant thing about this premiere is that they will have mental professionals from the Philippine Psychiatric Association present around the performance grounds. With these professionals present, audience’s curious or wanting to reach out about their mental health can approach them after the show.
Filipino vaudeville meets sultry, modern burlesque at “Bodabil”
Burlesque Ph is celebrating the influence of bodabil in our pop culture landscape through the art of burlesque. In their show “Bodabil,” burlesque performers like Antoinette Noir will bring homage to the classic art of vaudeville, exploring how this art form brought by the Americans seeped its way into our country’s pop cultural landscape.
“We as Filipinos managed to take [bodabil] as our own. We want to pay tribute to that art form this coming Feb.23,” Burlesque Ph’s Antoinette Noir warmly invites the press during the conference. “Bodabil” will be open for viewing at Pineapple Lab this February during Fringe Manila 2019.
Catch Fringe Manila from Feb. 7 to March 3. Check out their Facebook page for more details.
Photo by Marx Fidel