September 9, 2019

Workshop Summary: Day 4

Workshop Session 11: Bridge Rebuca

Luna Sicat-Cleto facilitates a craft lecture through a writing exercise and then asks for her co-fellow Dennis Marasigan to explain what the fourth wall is, a concept that Bridge Rebuca capitalized on when she wrote Transient Lovers.

The play follows a dialogue between the two main characters, a boy and a girl who meet in a food park in Baguio.

Perhaps because of Rebuca’s background in writing for television, a number of people commented about it reading more like a screenplay, particularly with the way the details were laid out. Concerns about staging the play, particularly with the setting provided, were also brought up, though Dennis Marasigan argued that as long as the writer’s vision is clear, staging the play will not be a problem.

The play’s similarities to a number of well-known rom-com films did not go unnoticed, so Rebuca was urged to re-examine what the play is trying to say about love and transience. “Ano ang bagong insight tungkol sa mga ito?” Alcantara asked Rebuca.

Alcantara also brought up his issues about the male character, who, for him, read a little bit like a stalker for forcing the female character to sustain a conversation with him, despite her refusals.

The fellows and panelists weighed in on this with opinions of their own, with some agreeing to the observation and others arguing otherwise.

To address this, Gerald Manuel suggested for Rebuca to incorporate “cute instances” into the story. “Let the world bring them together. Baka pwedeng gawing makulit lang [yung lalake], hindi mapilit,” he said.

Herlyn Alegre praised Rebuca for writing a smooth dialogue between the characters. “Kitang kita ang mastery ng dialogue. Minsan merong realistic, merong pa-deep, pero madulas siya. Maganda ang pagkakagawa.”

Much of the discussion revolved around the little things that made the play read like a screenplay. “Kaya siguro nakikita natin siyang film, kasi the incidents are small,” Manuel commented, prompting to Rebuca to make the characters’ actions more visible.

Workshop Session 12: Norman Ralph Isla

“Along the way, I have discovered that there can never be a demarcation line between Character and Conflict. The conflict is there within the character. One just has to find it,” Malou Jacob said in her craft lecture, right before Norman Ralph Isla’s workshop session. Jacob is a strong believer of writing character-driven plays and doing all the necessary research to know the people she’s writing about before she even writes about them.

Isla’s Daang Papunta, Daang Pabalik zooms in a conflict-ridden Marawi. It centers around Tuan, a young man who wants to escape from an imminent attack. He hopes to bring his younger sister Aisha along with him, but she refuses to leave the town.

Rebuca praised the topic and theme of the play, but warns Isla against possible lapses in portraying the events happening in Marawi. She and Jaymar Castro also noted that they felt as though the setting was not as vividly described or shown.

Luna Sicat-Cleto also observed that she felt as though the play was lacking in showing the culture of people in Marawi. “Hinahanap-hanap ko yung focus sa pagpapakita sa mga Moro, upang lalo namin silang makilala.”

Concerns about the story’s pace were also brought up during the session. It could have started in medias res, said Castro, to do away with the slow start. The fellows and panelists also said the lines and movement of the play lacked urgency to convince the readers that the characters are in immediate danger.

Going back to her lecture, Jacob gave pointers on how Isla can better integrate the characters’ personal problems into the bigger conflict in their community. “Let the conflict rise slowly. Not just the situation of the family. but also of Marawi.”

Isla was prompted to find the focus of his play, and to build on that. Layeta Bucoy and Marasigan questioned him about the play’s premise, so that he may ground the story better. “What is it that you’re trying to say about the situation, beyond simply talking about the situation?” Marasigan asked him.

Isla was told to explore and further humanize the characters, make the setting more vivid, and to be wary of misrepresentation and cultural appropriation while working on his play.

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