VLF 19: PINTOG Plows on to Bear Fruits of Human Stories and Experiences

With 12 new scripts, this year’s Virgin Labfest promises narratives dealing with the complex layers of human experience.  Creating a safe environment festival has planted the seeds for a bountiful harvest with works coming to full bloom, ready to burst (pintog) onstage.

In VENGEANCE OF THE GODS by Hans Pieter Arao, a person is possessed in public. The town mayor’s chief of staff claims to know the reason behind the phenomenon and tries to convince the father of the possessed to join him in his quest for justice.

NINGAS by Lino Balmes is about a woman asking a man for a simple favor: to give her a name.

LOVE ON THE BRAIN by Rick Patriarca follows the story of ex-lovers who realize how grueling modern gay dating can be when a former flame discovers that they contracted HIV.

Set during the COVID-19 delta wave in 2021, PAGKAPIT SA HANGIN by Joshua Lim So narrates what happens when a relative of a patient catches the scheme of a doctor and his nurses working in a public hospital to limit the oxygen supply of patients nearing their deaths.

LIPISTICK AT PULBURA by Ara Jenika Vinzon begins with a censor for the Japanese planning to unearth her guerilla fighter friend. In the printing press where she works, the lead character gathers charred scraps of paper like puzzle pieces, revealing her final memory of their friendship before the battle.

In THE FOXTROT by Chesie Galvez-Cariño, dancing highlights the complexities of relationships. The play revolves around a middle-aged matron of substantial means and her respectable dance instructor who rehearses for an amateur ballroom dance competition.

SA BABAENG LAHAT by Elise Santos is about three young girls who reflect on their relationships with religion, sexuality, and themselves.

ANG MUNTING LIWANAG SA MADILIM NA SULOK NG SERBESERYA SA MAYNILA by Dustin Celestino recounts the visit of two psychology professors in a beer house, and the conversation they have on love, marriage, and privilege.

In SI HESUS NA’A SA U.S. by Neil Azcuna, two separated lovers revisit their past on their way to the airport as one of them contemplates a new lover’s plan to immigrate to the United States.

In SENTENARYO by Herlyn Alegre, relatives arrive at a centenarian’s birthday celebration, hoping they will get a share of his free government money. But what happens when the celebrant dies before the arrival of the barangay captain who will give the money?

THE DIVINE FAMILY by Dip Mariposque navigates the complex dynamic of family membersrs when they are forced to stay under one roof because of the pandemic.

IDENTITE by Jhudiel Clare Sosa scrutinizes the complicated relationship between a daughter and mother.

Three plays from VLF 18: Hitik in 2023 will be revisited in this year’s edition:

ANG AWIT NG DALAGANG MARMOL by Andrew Estacio tells the story behind the controversial historical song Jocelynang Baliwag. Following the production crew who will perform in their town’s new theater, the play will also shed light on the challenging yet fulfilling process behind the curtains.

DOMINADOR GONZALES: NATIONAL ARTIST by Dingdong Novenario shows the conversation between a young man and his former mentor-lover, tackling the compromises the mentor had to make to achieve his National Artist status, and how the young man is ready to make compromises for his own to get what he wants.

ROOM 209 by Zheg Arban presents the experiences of Cadet 4th Class Anghelo Perez inside the Philippine Military Academy. From a brave and hopeful cadet ready to serve his country, he discovers that everything about the academy is not what he envisioned. History does not lie (but our forefathers did). A room has become a witness to a culture that has lived on since men have started throwing stones against their neighbors. “Room 209” is a testimony that puts this age-old culture into sharp focus for us to pay attention to how it has affected individual lives.

There will be four staged readings, selected from the script submissions received for VLF 19. These chosen readings are HULING SALITA by Christa De La Cruz, PABILI NG CHRISTMAS TREE by Dia Sales, SHIVER by Atria Pacana, and PATAYIN ANG MGA SUROT by Floyd Scott Tioganco.

A major educational component of the theater festival, the Playwrights Fair features discussions with veteran playwrights and writers. Among the highlights of this component is the conversation with the Festival’s founders – Herbie Go and Rody Vera.

The VLF Writing Fellowship Program continues this year, with eight fellows to be mentored by Glenn Mas on the study and practice of dramatic writing for the stage, and with CCP Artistic Director Dennis Marasigan directing the Culminating Program on June 30.

Catch the Theater Talks, a forum series on the creative and production process in theater, and the Dramaturgy Fellowship Exhibit showcasing the process of the VLF 19 dramaturgs.

VLF 19: Pintog runs from June 12 to 30, 2024, at the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (CCP Blackbox Theater). Theater shows will be at 2pm, 5pm, and 8pm. For more details on the schedule and ticket prices, visit the official social media accounts of CCP, Tanghalang Pilipino, and Writers’ Bloc on Facebook, X, Instagram, and TikTok.