This will be a 12-part online notes / reflection series of the theater arts classes I’m taking with Philippine Educational Theater Association; which is not only one of the premier theater acts in our country (and the world), but also people I’ve personally admired for years.
I paid good money for this and I want to get the most out of it. If you’re curious what you can learn from class, or want to gain new perspective, read on…
Technicaaaaally. I was absent. So last week we went up Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga and went isalnd hopping in Bataan as part of my dad’s office outing. Here are some pictures as my form of apology. And to be honest, I can’t really miss this or else magtatampo yung dad ko (my dad would get mad at me, not real mad but mopey mad.)
So what’s labeled day2 is not actual day 2 but my personal day 2. What happened in the session that I missed are what were reportedly some intense physical body exercises, stretching followed by a lecture on philippine theater. (UGH so mad I missed that, I will have to google click hole to feel like I know Phil. Theater now.) Also, they went to Kundiman Party by Dulaang UP, which I can’t catch now cause even though the dates were extended, the tickets are pretty hard to get.
It’s that dang good.
So I guess I’ll be resting on the laurels of me having-previously-watched-a-shitton-of-plays-anyway-kinda-often, and letting this one slide pass. It doesn’t feel right watching a play without my grandma (read me go senti about that relationship here)
I’ll still say this is a 12 part series cause I’m sure we’ll have outside of class sessions, for sure, especially when we’ll be cramming the final stage piece.
So here’s to my day 2!
pt.1 EMBODIED Recall
The class starts with everybody gathering into a large circle, instructed by Sir Phil Corpuz to say one thing that we’ve learned in the past two sessions. While also tagging people by throwing a ball around. This is amazing because people stay alert from the ball throwing, and are forced to review what they’ve learned in a gamified way.
After the session, sir phil reviewed things that we may have missed and asked us to bring out our homework.
>we also did a short acting/story making exercise where the class was split into three groups. Each group was assigned a location (the ocean, the carnival, the jungle) and were tasked to create a beginning and story and end. No dialogue, but sounds are encouraged. NO PEOPLE. The other groups don’t know the other group’s prompts and had to guess the prompt & STORY in this extended charades business.
>> Our group did pretty well, creating ocean waves and a boat. That was attacked by a shark, that turned out to dance and sing baby shark. And the boat dodging the shark, got slammed into an iceberg. Which then had the group hum “my heart will go on” mala titanic. IT WAS. PRETTY. WE WERE GOOD.
pt.2 Sounds from trash
This was a creative sound exercise. We were all asked to bring two items to produce sounds from. Each of us were then asked to produce 5 kinds of variant ‘sound effects’ for the whole class. Forcing us to think of different ways to hit the can or janggle it around.
Predicatably a lot of people brought percussive insturments like tin cans and metal chopsticks. Plastic bottles and brown paper bags were also popular. People who forgot the assignment, brought out keys, coins and pens. I brought out a small notebook and a pen. Guess which group I was ? Haha
I had good ideas though! The spiral had a unique (but not too loud sound to it) and ripping paper has a sound to it that’s very , say, iconic ? I also slammed it around and tried variating the tempo I made the pen click on the spiral bridge. I also flipped the pages really loudly.
The exercise is really interesting because you’re forced to pay attention to these sounds that we typically don’t take notice of in everyday life. The unscrewing of a plastic bottle. The dropping of a cap. Coins jangling, but they populate our everyday life. At one point sir Phil asked us to play altogether – it was predictably a ruckus.
He asked us to stop, and i think, he restrategized.
He asked us to do this ..
pt.3 Clapping exercise
This is actually very similiar to a clapping routine we do in Kontragapi, may indegeneous performing arts group. It’s a really creative way to layer basic clapping over one another and to create an interesting poly rhythm.
Sir phil basically did a metronome, regularly spaced and evenly sounding clap, and asked us to enter into it. You could be faster , slower, louder, create interesting rhythms in that time signature. I showed off a bit and did other kinds of clapping that Kintragapi has taught me. And I’ll teach it to you here too. I’ll look for a video…
Some useful ones are the hollow clap which makes a more rounded sound. The clapping with your open mouth which makes a sound from the hollow of your throat. And my personal favorite, a cymbals clap where you keep your palms really wide open and stretched and smack it real hard. It sounds like a whip, latigo in filipino and if you do this your clapping will be really loud above the crowd.
Tried and tested in grad ceremonies, audience concert jeering and ofcourse communal clappin routines. It can also carry melody since how wide your fingers are would actually change how “high” the note of the clapping will sound. I invite you to try it!
For the class exercise, it was really fun hearing everyone layer their own sense of rhythms on each other. You can tell who was more musically inclined than others , but it was fun nonethelss
pt. 4 Sounds of trash advanced
Next up, is to apply this same layered concept to the trash sounds we were making. Now this is very sad for us with very small sounding instruements, so if you also have a similiar assignment and have the same exact assignment. I advise you to BRING THE LOUDEST INSTRUMENT POSSIBLE. Just for kicks! heh.
Sir picked the loudest instrument in class ALSO, to keep the metronome. Sadly(?), awkwardly the person with the loudest tin can and chopsticks couldn’t keep a steady rhythm. She tended to speed up or couldn’t keep the spacing even. It’s okay though, personally learning to drum with djembe, the rhythms drummers learn and keep ARE TRICKY and you kinda need some musical background/passion to be able to tell the nuance of – oh yeah you’re right. i am going faster!
I wonder though if in other cultures in africa, keeping rhythm is more ingrained in their culture ? Anyway. It was fun regardless.
pt. 5 radio show
Next the class was split up into three large groups again, each tasked with a story to tell but this time, with only sounds. You may use the sounds from the instruments and your own voices. Some prompts were TOKHANG (a phenomena of being shot to death without evidence in the current drug war in the philippines), haunted house and domestic violence. Again we were tasked to guess the plot and prompt of the other groups.
We closed our eyes.
Interestingly, creating a sense of contrast, balance, rhythm etc. was both easier and more difficult with a group. You had to kill off a lot of ideas, and synthesize different sound effects and opinions within the group.
For example, we got assigned tokhang and wanted to do an overtly comedic take on it, only because the super serious debates and discussions around tokhang were already so desnsitizing. Another person in the group wanted to do it in a serious tone, then well – okay.
(gosh we did so maaaaaany things , and it’s just the morning ??)
After lunch we had guest speakers come over to inform us about what it’s like being adopted and being and adoptive parent. This is to inform the theme of our final play which is Uyayi or lullaby.
It was very interesting.. very revealing of my own assumptions of what love is, what family should mean, our own expectations and disappointments with our own parents.
Most of the things shared were actually confidential. Some of our classamtes who had trouble at home opened upto. Even days after I still don’t know how to say it succinctly except that I’m lucky I guess ?
To wrap up the class sir Phil had a one word “check-in” into how people were feeling. This is pretty cool and should be a thing too in regular highschool ??
We also did a round meeting where we exchanged what we learned from the sharing.
til next time,