Text by Marz Aglipay
Following the success of “Katsuri” Tanghalang Pilipino offers yet another exciting play to cap off 2019. “Lam-ang” is an Ethno-Epic Musical based on the Ilocano Epic “Biag ni Lam-Ang.“
Taking the directorial reigns are two actors fresh off Tanghalang Pilipino’s critically acclaimed “Katsuri,” Marco Viaña and Fitz Bitana. Bitana had first directed “Biag ni Lam-Ang” as a thesis production turned musical by Jen Darlene Torres where Viaña was invited to watch.
Eljay Castro Deldoc who’s new book steers Lam-ang’s modern retelling explains that this version may be unlike what we vaguely remember learning from our high school history subjects. According to Bitana who hails from Ilocos Norte, there are over 20 versions of the epic that differs from each Ilocano speaking region. For this production they aim to stage a relatable version suited for the Manila audience.
This version takes inspiration from both the published Ilocano version written by cultural writer Isabel delos Reyes and Tagalog translations of Angel Acacio and Ariel Tabag. It veers away from the supposed bastardized versions of Ilocano Poet Pedro Bukaneg who purported passed down the story orally and transcribed in 1640, a decade after his passing.
Tanghalang Pilipino’s Artistic Director Nanding Josef reiterates “misyon [namin] na gamiting ang teatro for Education and develop our sense of nationalism.” (It is out mission to use theater for education and develop our sense of nationalism.) As in their previous production of Katsuri which they’ve based on the conditions of farmers in Negros, aims to use theater to inform us of what is going on in the country.
In line with the vision of our National Artist for literature Virgilio Almario who hopes that Filipinos distance themselves from the Western orientation of the “epic.” Lam-Ang, in the format of an Ethno-epic musical, envisions to do just that.
Topbilling this production is TV, movie and theater actor JC Santos, a graduate of Theater Arts from University of the Philippines- Diliman. Previous to “Lam-ang,” JC appeared in many stage productions including “Orosman at Zafira,” and “Isang Panaginip na Fili.” He received warmest accolades for his well-received turn as Roland in “Constellations,” which paved the way for him to find a niche in mainstream showbiz. “Lam-ang” marks JC’s stage comeback after years of devoting his time to the small and big screens.
The cast of “Lam-ang”
“This is also my first time to bag a lead role in a musical. And, on top of that, this is my first with Tanghalang Pilipino,” adds JC Santos. “I am extremely honored to be part of this production and to work with all these talented artists.”
In addition, Anna Luna makes her Tanghalang Pilipino debut, as the beautiful Kannoyan, Lam-ang’s first love.
“Kannoyan will teach Lam-ang that the power of a lifelong love is far stronger than any loss or victory in a war,” expresses Anna. “I am so honored and grateful for the trust given to me to play this landmark role of Kannoyan.”
“Lam-ang” is on a limited 2-week run from December 6 to 15, 2019 at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Tickets are priced at PHP 1000 & PHP 1500 which are available at the CCP Box Office, Ticketworld, Ticket 2 Me, Blimo and the Tanghalang Pilipino office.
JC Santos’ audition for the role of Lam-ang