Fi­nally, a space with the po­ten­tial to be any­thing you want it to be


From an in­sider's per­spec­tive, how is Philip­pine theater do­ing now?

Bart Guing­ona (BG): When I joined, you didn't have enough of a scene to be em­ployed the en­tire year un­less you were with a reper­tory com­pany. I was lucky enough to have had that kind of em­ploy­ment, where if you weren't act­ing, you're work­ing in the crew, the pro­duc­tion side, or in mar­ket­ing. If you're good enough, you can ac­tu­ally count on be­ing em­ployed ev­ery month in the theater. How much po­ten­tial is there? BG: Oh, there's a lot. This is a mega city of 18 mil­lion peo­ple. And if you are look­ing at a theater that seats 300 peo­ple, that's re­ally a drop in the bucket. It's a mat­ter of con­vinc­ing your “in­ten­ders” and the “in­dif­fer­ents” to open their eyes.

Toff de Vene­cia (TdV): I agree. Since I come from a pro­cliv­ity that leaned to­wards a young, hipster lifestyle, I wanted to cre­ate a theater that ap­pealed to that de­mo­graphic. It's a lit­tle bit chal­leng­ing be­cause these are the ones that are still in col­lege, or off col­lege with a start­ing salary—how do you make tick­ets af­ford­able to them? And how do you cre­ate ex­pe­ri­ences they would em­brace and call their own? With the newer gen­er­a­tion, if it's some­thing tra­di­tional or they've al­ready seen be­fore, they're not gonna want to give it a chance. Kris, what did you see in these parts and in the sur­round­ing ar­eas? Kristo­pher McDow­ell (KM): The qual­ity of work that I've seen here is out­stand­ing. I think that has some­thing to do with the fact that there is a tremen­dous open­ness in the Philip­pines to in­ter­na­tional work.

Do you guys think the lo­cal mar­ket is grow­ing steadily?

BG: You know, one thing you re­al­ize the older you get, it's re­ally just a niche mar­ket. It's al­ways there. I think we are reach­ing more of the mar­ket. All you gotta do is un­der­stand who you want to talk to, how you want to talk to them, and how you want to reach them. The Power Mac Cen­ter Spotlight is com­ing up in Cir­cuit Makati. Will this have an im­pact on lo­cal theater? BG: Ab­so­lutely! It's the per­fect venue for The Nor­malHeart, as a mat­ter of fact. It needs the in­ti­macy, it needs that kind of ex­per­i­men­tal feel. And I don't have a set; it's just a bunch of peo­ple in a space.

TdV: I think that Power Mac Cen­ter Spotlight theater couldn't have come at a bet­ter time, es­pe­cially now that art is ex­pand­ing in terms of forms and con­tent. Our lo­cal artists can learn from the in­ter­na­tional acts com­ing here, and they can learn from us.

KM: I think be­cause of its lo­ca­tion, it will have ac­ces­si­bil­ity to not only reach lo­cals, but also ex­pats who are liv­ing here. I think they have to think very care­fully about the type of in­ter­na­tional work that's com­ing in. Bart al­ready men­tioned what he wants to do with the Power Mac Cen­ter Spotlight. Toff, Kris, what are your plans? TdV: More fes­ti­vals. I think that's the per­fect space. I'm look­ing for­ward to all these Power Mac Cen­ter Spotlight type of en­deav­ors.

KM: I'm look­ing for­ward to see­ing how the three venues (a large venue, the Power Mac Cen­ter Spotlight, and an out­door venue) can be used to­gether the­mat­i­cally, so that the whole place be­comes a des­ti­na­tion that keeps peo­ple com­ing back for con­sec­u­tive nights. That's what I hope to see.

BG: Well, you know, these guys are ac­tu­ally very nice, be­cause they're vi­sion­ary. Me, I'm just self­ish. I just want a venue for the stuff I wanna do. (laughs) And most of the stuff I wanna do are those that are in your face. Vis­ceral theater like that is so ex­cit­ing. I just want a venue.

KM: And that's what I do. If the artist can't be self­ish, then the work isn't. That shows the power of your work is strong. I think that has to be sup­ported, and this also has to be sup­ported on a grand scale by the venues.

Toff de Vene­cia, Bart Guing­ona, and Kris McDow­ell

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