Home People Power transports audience into the heart of a revolution

People Power transports audience into the heart of a revolution

by admin September 20, 2010

What starts a revolution? For the Filipinos, perhaps it was 20 years of a corrupt dictatorship, the assassination of opposition leader Ninoy Aquino, or the daily struggles with poverty and starvation. More likely, it was a combination.

Teesri Duniya (Hindi for “third world”) Theatre’s latest production, People Power, pulls the

audience through the timeline of events leading up to the 1986 Philippines Revolution.

Incorporating photographs, songs, percussion, and moving performances, the cast of Toronto-

based Carlos Bulosan Theatre, who staged the show there in 2008, brings us to the breaking point of the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.

“I remember it being very chaotic,” said Nina Lee Aquino, Carlos Bulosan’s award-winning director, who was a child growing up in the Philippines during the revolution. “I remember watching it. My Filipino revolution was through the television, through newspaper clippings. Hence, if you see the stage, it’s very media-oriented with pictures, because that’s how I experienced it.”

The stage functions as a host of many settings, just as each of the five cast members plays

several characters, stretching over class boundaries and oceans to give a full impression of the

onset of the revolution.

A photojournalist struggling to expose the truth uses the stage as a darkroom for his photos. A

taxi driver experiences the dehumanization of poverty onstage in the streets of Manila. A young

upper-class girl uses it as a platform to lead a student rebellion. The divisions between place

and person are never clear-cut, highlighting the complexity of conflicting narratives.

“I’m not drawn to the simple notion of conflict that the theatre world is always talking about,” said

Rahul Varma, artistic director of Teesri Duniya.

“Of course it does exist. But there is something in this society which has emerged in the 21st

century. It’s called “competing truth.’; that there is a truth of you, there is a truth of me, and we

both may be truthful. So let’s present a situation where the conflict is between the competing truths. No one is a liar, no one is wrong. That I would say is a little higher form of what we call political theatre.”

Creating dialogue is front and centre for the theatre company, whose maxim is “Where the

play’s wisdom ends, the audience’s wisdom begins.”

They offer talk-backs with performers and have put together several panel discussions with

members of the Filipino community to critically discuss the outcomes of the revolution in the

Philippines and in Canada.

The purpose, for Varma, is that theatre itself is revolutionary.

“If we look into the last century and how much calamity has been caused by war, genocide,

and man-made human catastrophe, I can comfortably say that our only salvation is common

understanding,” he said. “Therefore, since art is done with some beauty, with some aesthetic, it has a greater ability to engage. So we should use art to do that.”

Be part of the revolution at the Monument National until Oct. 2. Tickets are $22, $15 for students. Call 514-871-2224 or visit www.monument-national.qc.ca.

Leave a Comment