Woes And Foes of Contemporary Philippine Theatre.

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Woes And Foes of Contemporary Philippine Theatre.

Contemporary Philippine Theatre has come a long way from the long history of colonialism, revolution and liberation. Despite the accomplishments of theatre, certain challenges still confront it today. From the articles read in class, research and class discussions, I observed certain issues prevalent in Philippine contemporary theatre.

First is the competition with the other entertainment industries such as television and film. The media has more accessibility to the masses compared to theatre which is struggling to survive the competition. Funding, marketing and grabbing audiences still remain to be challenges in theatre. Tejada (2010) stated that, “the truth is, when time comes for you to put on a show, it’s difficult to sell tickets. So in terms of audience development, theater could do a lot better”. He further explains that theatre still lacks popularity in the Philippines compared to mainstream media; this in turn, affects the overall appeal of theatre to the audience.

Indie Birds


Accessibility is also another challenge related to audience development and popularity. Theatre is still mostly available to students in schools and basically, to those willing to pay the ticket price to watch the show. Venues for theatre are still limited which is one of the factors of its lack of popularity. Also, the economic situation of the Filipinos has placed theatre at the bottom of its “hierarchy of needs” which is why theatre groups mostly gain audiences from required students and the middle up to upper classes in society.

Though street theatre reaches out to the masses, it is still not enough to gain exposure for theatre. Its usual political sentiments provide only a small perspective of Philippine theatre which the majority of the Filipinos are yet to discover and witness.

Second is the lack of support for theatre especially in rural areas and at the community level. Classical forms such as the sarsuelas have resigned the provinces while main cities remain ignorant of their existence and importance. The colonial mentality of Filipinos has led to the preference of Western plays, rather than local plays. The limelight of local and regional plays has played secondary to that of Western plays. Adaptations and restaging of Western theatre forms and plays have become a part of Philippine theatre, in a way.

Indie Birds


This leads to the third issue: the identity of Philippine theatre. Today, the question still remains ambivalent; the clear and defined parameters to describe Philippine theatre remain undefined and unclear. What makes a play considered to be “Filipino”? Are foreign adaptations by Filipinos considered as “Filipino”? Does a purely Filipino theatre form exist?

These questions are still in the process of seeking answers. I believe that there is a need to consolidate Philippine theatre in the country to be able to answer these questions. More studies, interest and support is need to pull theatre away from the background against mainstream media and to be able to reach out to the majority of Filipinos.