Tuesday, April 12, 2011

National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera on "Monumento"

Excerpts from a review of "Monumento" a multi-media production first staged by the UP cultural group Alay Sining in 1996, the centennial year of the Philippine Revolution of 1896. In the first staging of this play, Ericson Acosta, who wrote and directed "Monumento," also played the lead role of Andres Bonifacio.

This review, written by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, is based on the second staging of the play directed by Jen Barberan and Roselle Pineda.

"Monumento:" The Cultural Presentation Lives!

…(The Alay Sining production) Monumento in the language of activist theater, is a “cultural presentation,” meaning, it is theater with a message. Using oratory, songs, mime, slides, and above all, passionate acting, it puts the audience in a state of agitation intended to intensify political commitment…

Monumento is about the Revolution of 1896 as it is related by the Supremo of the Katipunan to our times which are witness to the Ramos government’s celebration of the centennial of that event which gave birth to the Filipino nation. Written by a young playwright, Gerry Escultura (Ericson Acosta), the play presents an uncompromising reading of history by a radical youth of the late 1990s. Using Andres Bonifacio himself as the narrator of his rise and fall as a revolutionary leader …in effect, seeks to educate the audience on a critical moment in the nation’s history and urge it to learn lessons in commitment, courage, perseverance and fidelity to the cause of the masses…

Monumento is…not a new invention and this is what gives it the impact that bourgeois theater cannot recreate. Alay Sining’s contemporary play about the Revolution of 1896 returns its audience, by the techniques and effects it has drawn from tradition, to the spirit of communal participation in a ritual from which a common good is expected to issue.

First appeared in Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera’s column “Aftertaste” in The Manila Chronicle, March, 6, 1997

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