The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) presents one of its landmark and iconic performances, Alan Glinoga’s Filipino adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Ang Buhay Ni Galileo this September 28 to October 7. After a limited three-day run in PETA’s original home at the Rajah Sulayman Theater for PETA’s 50th anniversary, Ang Buhay Ni Galileo now comes to the PETA Theater Center.
The production revolves around the life of the 17th century scientist, Galileo Galilei whose discoveries changed our understanding of the universe. The timelessness of this PETA classic shows the resistance made by the authoritarian and conservative elements of the time against the coming of a new age.
PETA’s history has been punctuated by plays written by Brecht. In 1981, PETA first staged Ang Buhay Ni Galileo at the Rajah Sulayman Theater under the direction of eminent theater personality Fritz Bennewitz who was the leading artistic director of the Weimar National Theater at that time. PETA’s contemporary version is now directed by multi-awarded playwright, director, and actor Rody Vera.
The original Galileo played by acclaimed director Joel Lamangan in 1981 is back to reprise his role, along with other original cast members Bodjie Pascua, Manny Pambid, and Archi Adamos. Original cast members Brenda Fajardo and Boni Juan also return as costume and set designers.
Ang Buhay Ni Galileo director Rody Vera says that people can “frame this whole play in the context of the proliferation of fake news. We live in an age that some people call ‘post-truth.’ Does that mean now that all truths are relative? It’s not that truth is dead – it is particularly that belief that we should stand against.” Misinformation and fake news have been around since centuries ago, and then and now, they “destroy the very foundations of truth,” says Vera. Ang Buhay Ni Galileo therefore pushes audiences to realize their social and political responsibilities by telling the stories of those who came before us. As Bennewitz put it, “Nobody can escape the responsibility history has put on everybody whether or not one is willing to recognize and accept it. The play is at the same time a warning and an encouragement.”
Ang Buhay Ni Galileo was also the production that gave birth to the theater design philosophy, the Aesthetics of Poverty by renowned visual artist and former PETA curriculum director Brenda Fajardo. This was the technique PETA used from 1973 to 1986 as a result of the scarcity of resources in establishing Philippine theater at the time. The 2018 production uses the same technique, as a way of paying homage to the time PETA made do with what it had. “We are convinced that theater need not wallow in unnecessary expense to come out effective and brilliantly imaginative and still be authentic… the limitations of the production appeared to be its splendor,” said Bennewitz in 1981.
Ang Buhay Ni Galileo has garnered citations from PHILSTAGE 10th Gawad Buhay 2018: Outstanding Translation or Adaptation, Outstanding Original Musical Composition, Outstanding Male Lead Performance in a Play (for Joel Lamangan), Outstanding Male Featured Performance in a Play (for Bodjie Pascua and Noel Comia, Jr.), Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Play, and Outstanding Production of Existing Material for a Play.
Featured in this production are Joel Lamangan as Galileo, Upeng Galang-Fernandez, Noel Comia, Jr., Ian Segarra, John Moran, Gie Onida, Randy Villarama, Jojo Atienza, Jack Yabut, Rachelle Gimpes, Roi Calilong, JP Cuare, Zoe Damag, Archi Adamos, Bodjie Pascua, Boy Aquino, Joseph Madriaga, Bene Manaois, Fredyl Hernandez, Norbs Portales, Manny Pambid, Raffy Tejada, Jason Barcial, Ada Tayao, Kabaitan Bautista, and Csai Habla.
Ang Buhay Ni Galileo is directed by Rody Vera, written by Bertolt Brecht, and adapted to Filipino by Alan Glinoga, with costume and set design by Brenda Fajardo and Boni Juan, lights design by Roman Cruz, and musical direction by Zoe Damag, Ada Tayao, and Kabaitan Bautista.
PETA’s Ang Buhay Ni Galileo runs from September 28 to 30, and October 3 to 7 at the PETA Theater Center, No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City. For show-buying and ticket inquiries, contact PETA Marketing and PR Office at 725-6244 or Ticket2Me at 721-0431 to 33 local 8109. (www.ticket2me.net)