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About Town | A Great Collaborations Bring You Manila Notes

Tanghalang Pilipino and The Japan Foundation, Manila join hands in the Philippine production of “MANILA NOTES” Manila, Philippines - Tanghalang Pilipino (TP) and the Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM), in partnership with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) present Manila Notes, a Philippines-Japan theater collaboration, staged as a TP 32nd season production from November 30 to December 16, 2018, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, at 3PM and 8PM, at the CCP Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater). The play is the adaptation of Tokyo Notes, written by internationally acclaimed Japanese playwright and director Oriza Hirata. The play is one of the most critically acclaimed works of Hirata, which has been translated into 13 languages for productions in many cities around the world. The play has also created artistic collaborations and cultural exchanges through adaptations such as Seoul Notes (2004), Taipei Notes (2017), and Bangkok Notes (2017).

To make sure that the Japanese material communicates well with the local Filipino audience, the Palanca Hall of Fame writer Rody Vera has been working with Hirata on the adaptation together with the twenty (20) leading Filipino actors. Hirata introduced to the actors his acting style called “contemporary colloquial theater theory,” which is entirely different from Western acting techniques. This technique, created by Hirata to counter the traditional loud theater seen in Japan, has been received by the world to great acclaim. This, apart from the stellar cast and artistic staff, gives the audience another great reason to watch this acclaimed production. The artistic team, actors and production staff have been actively involved in the process of creating a brand-new type of theater practice through workshops, rehearsals and discussions. Lastly, the set design is also a collaboration by an acclaimed Japanese set designer, Itaru Sugiyama and select theater practitioners and students in Manila.

Adapted from Tokyo Notes—which was inspired by Yasujiro Ozu’s film “Tokyo Story”—the story of Manila Notes takes place in the lobby of an art museum in Manila sometime in the near future. A major war is being waged in Europe and many paintings have been moved to the various cities in Asia. In front of such paintings, family members, friends and lovers continue their fragmentary conversations on taking care of their aging parents, inheritance, future careers, and love, among others. With the backdrop of a distant war, the play clearly portrays how Filipinos live their everyday lives, which reveal a whole range of problem and crisis of our modern society.

Born in 1962, in Tokyo, Prof. Oriza Hirata is a playwright and theater director. He is the leader of the Seinendan theater company as well as the artistic director of the Komaba Agora Theater and Kinosaki International Arts Center. He is also a research professor at Tokyo University of the Arts Center of Innovation (COI) and a visiting professor at Osaka University and Shikoku Gakuin University. He is one of the most influential figures in contemporary Japanese theater, working regularly with international artists, notably in France, with Frederic Fisbach, Arnaud Meunier, and Laurent Gutmann. As a propagator of the contemporary colloquial theater in Japan, he wrote nearly thirty plays—among them Tokyo Notes (1995 Kishida Kunio Drama Award) and Citizens of Seoul. Among many other awards, he was honored by France’s Ministry of Culture with the insignia of “Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters” in 2011.

Manila Notes boasts of the some of the most versatile performers on the Philippine stage today: Meann Espinosa, a Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) actor, and Mayen Estanero, a TP Actors Company alumna, lead the cast, which also include some of theater’s finest: Former TP Artistic Director Dennis Marasigan, Gie Onida, Ian Segarra, J-Mee Katanyag, Neomi Gonzales, Wenah Nagales, Kathlyn Castillo, Randy Villarama, and Elle Velasco. Together with them are some of the members of the TP Actors Company: Jonathan Tadioan, Marco Viaña, Lhorvie Nuevo, Antonette Go, Joshua Tayco and Manok Nellas. The young, talented actors from different universities, Micah Musa from UPLB, Manuel Tinio from De La Salle University, and Manjean Faldas from the DLSU-College of St. Benilde, complete the cast. These actors were carefully selected after an open audition last September, conducted by Prof. Hirata, himself.

Tanghalang Pilipino is the leading exponent of Philippine theater and the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Tanghalang Pilipino envisions raising Philippine theater to heights of professional and artistic excellence, dedicated to developing and training actors, playwrights and designers with special emphasis in the production of original Filipino plays. By staging plays from the repertoire of Philippine past and plays in translation from other countries, TP hopes to bring to the experience of both artists and audience the best of Philippine and global theater tradition. Tanghalang Pilipino maintains a regular training program for actors through its Actors’ Company. The only one of its kind in the country, the Actors’ Company is a pool of professional theater actors who go through intensive training in acting, movement, dance, voice, script analysis, improvisation, directing and other production-related courses. Members of this prestigious and privileged group are among the most respected artists in the Philippine theater, television and film communities. Now on its 32nd Season, Tanghalang Pilipino promises to present high-caliber productions celebrating the Filipino artistry in the next years to come.

The Japan Foundation was established in October 1972 as a special legal entity supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and became an Independent Administrative Institution in October 2003. The mission of the Japan Foundation is to promote international cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and other countries. As the 18th overseas office, the Japan Foundation, Manila was founded in 1996, active in three focused areas: Arts and Culture; Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange; and, Japanese Language Education Overseas. For more information please visit our website at and Facebook. For ticket reservations, group sales, sponsorship, and special performances, please contact Tanghalang Pilipino: Juan Marco Lorenzo at 0999 8843821 or Lorelei Celestino at 0915 6072275 or 832 1125 local 1620/1621. Tickets are also available at Ticketworld online or by calling 891 9999, and at the CCP Box Office. For announcements and more information, visit the TP Facebook page at
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