The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) has had a track record of telling distinctly Filipino stories; transforming its cozy blackbox theater into endlessly new and exciting worlds. From the flooded village of Villa Venizia to Arbol de Fuego’s Hacienda Carmen, the seasoned theater company takes a leap into the future, imagining a dystopian Philippines in rap musical, 3 Stars and a Sun
The year is 2096. Unlivable weather conditions, and global warfare has forced many Filipinos to seek shelter inside The Stormdome— a giant steel dome made to withstand intense heat, pressure, force. Inside this dome are two sectors: glossy and developed Lumino, which holds the ruling class; and Diliman, home to metal scrap recyclers and the underprivileged. In this futuristic world, a rebel group called Tropang Gising attempt to overturn the dictatorial rule of Vidame Inky, ruler of The Stormdome.
Far, far into the Future
Dystopian literature is a genre that is very seldom explored in Filipino literature and drama; yet according to Mixkaela Villalon, the young playwright behind the story, this genre is perfect for taking a closer look at our present society.
“Escapist narratives let us distance ourselves from the complex present in order to see things from a different perspective.” she says. “In 3 Stars I was trying to hold up a mirror to our current and past class and political problems.”
Indeed the narrative is reminiscent of today’s YA favorites, The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Divergent; stories that feature young people rising from orderly albeit imprisoning societies in the hopes of finding true freedom.
One of the hardest challenges in building 3 Stars and a Sun is creating the world where the story takes place.
“A new world had to be imagined: the conditions of the future, systems of governance, environment, the way people lived, the way people behaved, the way they looked, and the things they valued and cared for.” Director Nor Domingo intimates.
Actors and artistic staff all contributed into building the world inside The Stormdome through careful analysis of the script, and several world-building workshops.
“I came up with the world– the Stormdome and the two cities– but the cast and artistic staff started coming up with more ideas, making the world real and dynamic.” writer Mixkaela says.
A Call to Action
Although the story is set in the distant future, the songs of rapper Francis Magalona grounds viewers back to the present. Nor hopes to use the socio-politically charged songs of The Pinoy King of Hiphop to call the youth of today to action.
“[Francis M’s] songs still ring true because when we look around, we see that nothing has actually changed. We see that history indeed repeats itself, and we have all, unfortunately, played a hand in repeating those mistakes.” he shares.
“It is the objective of this play to inspire today’s young people to think beyond themselves and realize they are part of a bigger community, that they need to get involved in the creation or the process of determining their future… although we will not offer concrete solutions or answers to [today’s] problems, it is hoped that this play will inspire young people to ask questions and learn from our history.”
In the words of Francis Magalona himself, “Tunay at wagas na pag-asa ng bukas / Nasa palad mo ang kapalaran / Kabataan para sa kinabukasan”
3 Stars and a Sun is written by Mixkaela Villalon and Rody Vera, directed by Nor Domingo, with arrangement and musical direction by Myke Salomon.
Catch 3 Stars and a Sun on February 4 to March 6, 2016 from Tuesdays to Sundays (Tue-Fri 8PM, Sat-Sun 3PM and 8PM) at the PETA-PHINMA Theater at the PETA Theater Center. PETA is located at No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City.
For tickets and inquiries you may call (02) 725 6244 or visit petatheater.com and ticketworld.com.ph