Text and Photos by Marz Aglipay
The introduction of Manila Notes comes with much gusto from its cast of seasoned actors and actresses promising that it will be a production that will be remembered by Filipino audiences for years to come.
Manila Notes is an adaptation of Prof. Oriza Hirata’s critically acclaimed work, “Tokyo Notes” inspired by Yasujiro Ozu’s film “Tokyo Story.” Set inside a local museum where paintings from a war-stricken part of Europe are being evacuated to. This straight play heavily relies on pauses and silences between the characters who act out fragmented conversations between friends, family, and lovers.
This production is one of several cultural collaborations between the Japan Foundation in different Asian countries resulting in colloquialized versions such as Seoul Notes (2004), Taipei Notes (2017), and Bangkok Notes (2017). Each version aims to mirror the problems and crises of modern society based on its locale.
Manila Notes has been translated by seasoned theater playwright, Rody Vera. According to Prof. Hirata this adaptation of the script had the least amount of changes or corrections. Hirata reveals as per his translator “di sa nambobola ako but of all the works that I have seen done in other countries 39 languages. What Rody did, for me, has been the best- probably better than what I wrote”
Rody Vera’s process of translation required him to visit a quiet museum lobby. For Manila notes, he based his vision of the play’s setting on the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. “I did not change much from the script. I also tinkered with the language. The main cast, the Tenorio family naka-base sila sa Iloilo and just visited Manila so yun yong premise which blends pretty well with the original setting. Someone from the countryside visiting the city” Vera explains.
Manila Notes is composed of a 20-member cast carefully selected and conducted by Prof. Hirata himself. Its cast boasts of having some of the most versatile performers hailing from Tanghalang Pilipino actors company, Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and young theater actors from UPLB, De La Salle University, and the DLSU-College of St. Benilde.
Prof. Hirata hopes that Manila Notes will become a cultural treasure for Philippine theater.
Catch “Manila Notes” from 30 November to 16 December at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater). The play is presented in Filipino. Four of its shows will have English subtitles on shows from 30 Nov and 2 Dec.