Mapúa student theater group takes spotlight in Teatro Europa

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Mapúa student theater group takes spotlight in Teatro Europa

Aside from earning a degree and preparing for a certain profession, college has always been synonymous with the exciting period of exploration of hobbies and interests, sports, the Arts, and other activities that can develop and expand the potential of students.

Amid the limiting effects of the pandemic, many students still strive to experience a holistic college life, pursuing knowledge and interests beyond the curriculum and the online classes.

The members of Mapúa University’s official student theater organization, the Mapúa Tekno Teatro, has seen the pandemic as an opportunity to explore another medium to reach a wider audience.

Mapúa Tekno Teatro was once again selected to participate in Teatro Europa, a virtual theater festival organized by the European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines.

Teatro Europa puts a spotlight on the cultural exchange between the Philippines and the EU and has been known to showcase the talents of the Filipino youth through the featured plays that originated from various EU member states.

Under the tutelage of renowned thespian and director Dennis Marasigan, who is Mapúa Tekno Teatro’s adviser and coach, the student theater company seized the opportunity to perform in Teatro Europa since 2020.

Despite health and safety concerns and the challenges posed by online classes and social distancing, the team of actors and the production and technical crew of Mapúa Tekno Teatro pulled through.

With the inevitable restrictions of the pandemic, the student theater group took the cue from CCP, Tanghalang Pilipino, and Writer’s Bloc’s Virgin Labfest to showcase its talent online.

“By the time Teatro Europa started middle of last year, it was evident that the pandemic would last for a while. Theaters were closed all over the world. Teatro Europa was a way for us to explore the possibilities of this new medium,” said Dennis Marasigan.

Although the virtual theater medium was challenging and unfamiliar in the beginning, it was the perfect training ground for student members to elevate their artistry and craft.

“We needed to find a way for the student members of Mapúa Tekno Teatro to continue enhancing their skills, despite the limitations of the pandemic, which they could eventually apply to a performance,” added Marasigan.

Hence the beginnings of Mapúa Tekno Teatro’s production for this year’s Teatro Europa.

The student theater company had to pull three-hour-long online rehearsals thrice a week since June. The run-throughs not only required actors to throw lines, but they also entailed the full participation of the production and technical crews who had to master the rigors of video editing and directing on the fly.

To further up the ante, Mapúa Tekno Teatro’s pièce de ré·sis·tance, the one-act play “Riders to the Sea” by Irish playwright John Millington Synge, was filmed and recorded in a single uninterrupted performance. This continuous uninterrupted shot did not only display each actor’s skill of staying in character, it also effectively conveyed the raw emotion and unapologetic message of the play.

This impressive feat showed the level of talent and skill of Mapúa’s student theater group as well as their dedication and commitment. All of these coming from a student theater organization that does not have nor rely on a formal theater arts undergraduate program.

The result of Tekno Teatro’s hard work was seen during the full recorded performance of their interpretation of “Riders to the Sea” last August 19. It will have a rerun come September 6 and 20 on Teatro Europa’s Facebook Page.

On top of the actual performance, the other key achievement of Mapúa Tekno Teatro members is the development of soft and technical skills that will prove useful for them while they’re enrolled in the university and in their future workplace.

Marasigan emphasized that the discipline of theater arts hones a person’s artistry and personality, which is why artistic pursuits, programs, and activities are integral towards achieving a holistic education.

“At the end of the day, students will learn something out of this artistic process that they can apply to whatever they do. Essential soft skills like time management, concentration, active listening, comprehension, truthfulness, and interpersonal skills are just some of the competencies our student actors develop when they join Tekno Teatro. These are the things that you can apply outside of theater,” said Marasigan.

Mapúa Tekno Teatro was established in August 2000 and its first performance was “Siklab”, a play written and directed by Professor Benigno Agapito Jr., now Dean of Mapúa School of Media Studies. Since its formation, it has been in several local drama tilts. It took part in Sipat Lawin's Ensemble: Battalia Royale directed by JK Anikoche, which was first performed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Promenade. It has also performed in Music Museum and St. Cecilia Theater the play "A Man Called Jesus," which was written and directed by Jerome Vinarao. It organized its first University Dramafest in 2007, which became an annual play festival at Mapúa University. In 2020, it participated in the first year of Teatro Europa with the play "The Robbers” by Friedrich Schiller. Former members include Marco Viana who was recently appointed as Associate Artistic Director of Tanghalang Pilipino.