Friday, March 31, 2017

Up Playwrights' Theater Proudly Presents Angry Christ

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Perhaps one of the most enigmatic works of Philippine contemporary art is the mural entitled THE LAST JUDGEMENT in the Chapel of ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER in the Victorias Sugar Mill in Negros Occidental. The work of the Fil-American painter Alfonso Ossorio was created in 1950, a time of great social upheaval in Negros.

Ossorio was born to a family of great wealth. His father, Don Miguel Ossorio, was from a wealthy Manila merchant clan. Although he was born in Manila, he was sent to study in England at 8 years old and returned to the land of his birth only in 1949. After finishing what many acknowledge as his masterpiece, Ossorio flew back to the United States where he established his reputation as a painter and a patron of such artistic giants as Jackson Pollock and Jean Dubuffet. He never returned to the Philippines.

The mural both shocked and scandalized the people of Negros when it was first unveiled late in 1950. Today, the entire chapel is a tourist attraction as well as an important part of Negros history. It is a singular treasure of Philippine art.

ACT 1 covers the period when Ossorio first came home to begin work. His younger brother Frederic has commissioned a foreign architect to build a chapel. Ossorio brings with him the Countess, Ade de Bethune to design the church’s mosaics. While de Bethune easily integrates herself into the life of the sakadas, Alfonso must struggle with the many influences that shape the mural. The ghosts of his troubled childhood, his sexual preference, the poverty of the sakadas and the growing insurgency all prove deeply troubling. Equally troubling are the conventions of traditional liturgical art which he finds stale and limiting. A fictional character, Anselmo, a boy from a sakada family, is Alfonso’s assistant. Try as he may, Anselmo cannot accept the conventions of Ossorio’s art.

In ACT 2, Alfonso decides on the theme of the mural. Going against all convention and acknowledging all opposing influences, he begins to create a statement that reconciles both dark and light in his nature.

ANGRY CHRIST a new play by Floy Quintos vividly imagines the process that Ossorio underwent while conceiving and executing his masterpiece. As in many of his works, historical fact and artistic license meld to produce a thought provoking piece of theatre peopled by characters historical and fictional.

It is the second offering of the UP Playwrights’ Theatre’s 25th Season. The two act play, set in 1950 is about the painter Alfonso Ossorio and his masterpiece, the mural entitled “The Last Judgement” in the Victorias Sugar Mill in Negros Occidental. The mural scandalized and shocked when it was first unveiled but has come to be accepted as an important landmark in Philippine Contemporary Art. 

An exciting cast performs this new work. Nel Gomez, last seen in “My Name is Asher Lev” is the young Alfonso Ossorio. Appearing with him are Kalil Almonte, Stella Canete-Mendoza, Julienne Mendoza, Randy Villarama, Banaue Miclat-Janssen, Alex Cortez, Jomari Jose, Micaela Pineda, Arya Herrera and the Dulaang UP ensemble. The production also marks the fourth collaboration of Floy Quintos and director/choreographer Dexter M. Santos. Their body of work has contributed some of the most exciting events in recent theatre history, Ang Nawalang Kapatid, Collection and Ang Huling Lagda ni Apolinario Mabini. 

The artistic team is no less formidable. Gino Gonzales designs the production, Monino Duque is doing the lights design and Krina Cayabyab creates the original music

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