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Friday, March 24, 2006


Bedtime stories

When the small-scale production "Philippine Bedtime Stories," an omnibus of three short plays by Filipino writers about male-female relationships, played in Tokyo in November 2004, word-of-mouth spread quickly, especially to audiences younger than the usual theater crowd in tune with its controversial themes.

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Staged with both Filipino and Japanese casts, that unique, high-quality and witty collaboration marked the directorial debut of Toshihisa Yoshida, a member of the Tokyo-based Theatre Company Rinkogun. Yoshida had previously studied drama in the Philippines on an exchange program sponsored by the Japanese culture ministry.

For the sequel, Yoshida and his long-term Filipino collaborator, author Rody Vera, have selected three new scripts -- two by Filipinos (including Vera himself) and another by the popular female Japanese author and cartoonist, Shungiku Uchida. The two Filipino-penned plays are performed in both Japanese and Tagalog by native-speaking casts, while Uchida's tragicomedy about a young Japanese man in a Philippine pub in Japan is staged with mixed nationalities in both languages.

If the first "Bedtime Stories" is any indication, then the followup is sure to both entertain and inform -- and in a well-honed way that ensures no one in the stalls falls asleep. As Vera says: "This is probably the first time that a Japanese theater group has chosen to stage a play written by Filipino writers. [The project is exciting because] we realize we don't need a Western work to mediate between two different cultures in order to create a production; second, this is the beginning of a longer process of searching for new approaches to theater together."

"Philippine Bedtime Stories 2," runs March 24-27 at 7 p.m. (weekend performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.) at the Sasazuka Factory, Keio Sasazuka Building B2, Sasazuka 1-56-7 Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, opposite Sasazuka Station on the Keio Line. Tickets are 3,000 yen in advance. For more info, call (03) 3426-6294.

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