Artist Playground is a humble theater company who is known for their Artistic Project that supports creativity and self-discovery. It is an institution that gathers artists all over the Philippines who are inspired to showcase their talent by performing.
Their latest production, “Fly Me to the Moon” really proves their mission in creating art projects that reflect, celebrate, and explore the bravery of Filipino artists. They also create opportunities that facilitate a collaborative environment for artists from all fields of art.
This is a Japanese-themed play by Rody Vera who talked about the dark and humorous past of the protagonists in the story.
Jo, A Japanese prostitute (Karayuki-san), and Melanie Filipino transgender entertainer met on a ship and while on their way to Japan, they talked about their past experiences and the reasons why they had to go to Japan and explore better opportunities. The story talks about how far love can take the characters and how much are they willing to do to fight for their dignity and reach their dreams.
I often watch Artist Playground’s shows because they are known for making unique theatrical plays that people will really love–from their actors, stage design, directing and choreography, and I have nothing to say but excellent. My experience watching Fly me to the Moon is a breath of fresh air most especially for fans who have watched their performance in the “Little room upstairs” in Quezon Avenue. Now, they decided to showcase their play in a bigger arena with a cozy feeling, aesthetically appealing place while exposing artistic freedom in their new venue the “Arts Above”.
They surpassed the bar because the first thing that welcomes people when visiting the place is the classic and overflowing arts in the interior of the cafe called “Cafe Above” with delicious pastries and drinks while waiting for the show to start. The place, Arts Above, truly has lived up to their name because of the food and performances that they offer. The theme of the cafe also sets the mood before watching the show.
The Set design
I walked in the place and the first thing that I saw was a very good set design that gave me a reason to become more curious about what the story would be. There was wooden style platform with two separate stages both left and right. Chairs were set up in a place where everyone can see what is happening on the stage.
The story is quite confusing at first since the director decided to use a lot of metaphor and symbolism to show up the bad and the good things about the past of the main characters. There is some parallel world, showing in each scene that will truly describe the build-up of the character of the protagonist. Watching the play is like a quick history lesson for social elements in our country and even in Japan when they talked the life of Jo, “Karayuki-San” where I later found out that it’s all about the Japanese woman become a prostitute and sexually service men from a variety of races, Including Chinese, Europeans, native Southeast Asians, and others. In Jo’s case, she was sent to a brothel in Southeast Asia (Sandakan in Sabah, Malaysia) to earn the price of his brother’s “becoming a man,” hence we see men dressed in tribal costumes as her customers and her true love Ibrahim. On the other hand, the story of Melanie is quite interesting, this is actually a short break from heartbreaking scene from the story of Jo. More on the funny side of the play are coming from Melanie’s background, aspiring Japayuki who really wants to be on board to get a better opportunity offshore. Discovering Melanie’s life will really put tears in your eye’s, same goes to Jo.
The question right now is why “Fly me to the moon”?
Well, based on my understanding of the story, the writer use fly me to the Moon to show where love can take someone. The title was adopted from the popular song by Frank Sinatra, written by Bart Howard that implies a message of the lyrics about the soaring feeling of personal experience when feeling being in love. Giving permission to take someone to the heights of love and that is exactly shown from the play. How far can love take you and how far dreams can challenge you to take the leap.
The Lights Design
light design has been planned well and suited to every scene. It really drags the emotion of the viewers and you were caught up in the moment because of its strong mood and ambiance. Selective visibility was executed well, an important part of the scene was highlighted. The lights were placed in action and you can actually as an “Audience” you can describe the scenic moment that the director wants to imply.
The actors are really effective from the given role. It’s quite easy to imitate a character or even an emotion, but the hardest part of it is being effective not only to the scene but of course from the perspective of the Audience. The actor deliver the intention very clear and they are committed to the given role.
Ai Hose Ji
Fatima Cadiz and Dea Formacil will alternately play the role of Karayuki.
Aldy Cadupau, Ai Hose Ji, and Xosh Adrio will alternately essay the role of Melanie.
Clifford Gonzales, Ar-Ar Ramilio, and BJ Ocampo will alternately play the role of Ibrahim
Manu Gallardo and Jun Nayra will alternately play the role of the Captain
]Josh Adamero, Lliwel Agita, Aljean Badar, Leonardo Bania, Searl Escalona, Julia Garcia, Alleah Hugo, Vincent Macapobre, Reyn Mercado, Ariel Pan, Christopher Perez, Joyan Que, Beaulah Mae Saycon, Christian Silang, and Fernilyn Toledo, shall play various roles in the ensemble.
Photo of Vladimeir B. Gonzales
Director: Paul Jake Paule
Artistic Director & Choreographer: Roeder Camanag
Music By: Jesse Lucas
Artistic Consulatant: Mailes Kanapi
Production Design Consultant: Jeffrey Camanag
Assustant Director: Searl Escalona
Layout Designer & Projection Design: John Mark YapPhotographer: Aly Mondonedo
Dramaturg: Sem Pabion and Princess Tuason
Sound Designer: Rowena Jarito
Lighting Designer: Kimberly Claire Somoza
Production Designer: Reynoso Mercado
The Production Team OF FLY ME TO THE MOON is led by Kimberly Claire Somoza (Production Manager), Jessa Bisnar (Assistant PM), Joselito “Toots” Tolentino (Publicist), Mary Rose Agapito (Stage Manager), Ariel Pan (Deputy Stage Manager), Beaulah Mae Saycon (ASM ) , Star Alferez & Anna Clarisa Timbal (Spinner), Alex Gallo & Alleah Hugo (Costume Mistress) Julia Garcia & Christian Silang (Prop head), Fernilyn Toladro (Sponsorship) and Set team : Glenn Caspe, Josh Adamero and Joyan Kiu.
Venue: ARTIST PLAYGROUND, Arts Above, 112 West Venue Building, West Avenue, Quezon City.
Congratulation to the whole team of Fly me to the Moon.