“PAGBULAS NG SIBOL” (Frank Wedkind’s SPRING AWAKENING)
> 2007 > University of the Philippines at Los Banos > Story Concept & Dramaturgy
(Photo by Czaris Mendioro)
Pagbulas ng Sibol is a Filipino adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening. The script was written by an acclaimed poet and literary scholar, Carlos Piocos III. Together with the playwright, I co-developed the story about young people facing the challenges of puberty in a post-Second World War II rural Philippines. This age of awkward growth and misplaced reconstruction in the lives of these characters is also a theatrical metaphor on education and disciplining, following Wedekind’s dark exploration of juvenile curiosities in his original play. But Pagbulas, also evoked experimentation, not only through dramaturgical expositions of its characters, its absurd theatricalities, and the choice of context and mood but also through the innovative use of space that its director Dennis D. Gupa utilised for this adaptation. A chemistry building site that was partially destroyed by a gutting fire was transformed into an open-air theatre and became a fitting world for Wedekind’s young men and women in search of meaning amidst a dark flow of transitioning.
Gibbs Cadiz, Philippine Daily Inquirer’s resident theatre critic, wrote the following review on 6/11/2007: It’s springtime for Frank Wedekind’s scandalous 19th-century play, “Spring Awakening,” as the play’s musical version (with exhilarating pop-rock music by Duncan Sheik) continues to conquer Broadway, and locally, as drama companies bite their fangs into its sullen, melancholy heart. Late last year, Tanghalang Ateneo staged a gritty adaptation of Han Ong’s “Middle Finger,” itself an updating of the Wedekind original. This March, for six days, the play underwent further transfiguration when the Department of Humanities of UP-Los Ba¤os produced “Pagbulas ng Sibol.”Who knew that a play of such sensuous, fearless strangeness could mark the debut of a fledgling drama group? UPLB’s fresh thespians, led by director Dennis Gupa, writer Carlos Piocos III and dramaturg Reagan Maiquez, set for themselves a high bar by transplanting “Spring Awakening” to the woodlands of Los Ba¤os during World War II. Suddenly, this story of youthful sexual tension and tragedy shed off its Germanic prep-school setting and became a paean to a lost generation of rural men and women who grew up too quickly in the shadows of a world-shattering conflict. Their adolescent thrashing and wailing now dovetailed with the crashing sounds of the Old Order crumbling away. Gupa’s expressionistic direction, alive with rich pictorial touches, made full use of the al fresco space on which the play was staged. His actors were raw but engaged to the hilt. When candles were left flickering on stage in the end, symbolizing the young lives flayed apart by adult ignorance and indifference, one came away lit with awe at what UPLB’s untested theater group had presented: a fully realized, mature drama that deserved its own run in Manila.