Sunday, July 13, 2014

Often, we feed our souls with new experiences, regardless of how grand or small these experiences are. Restlessness is born out of wanting something different, something far from the things that are part of our daily routine. And it is good to indulge in these new things once in a while. These things serve as fuel that keeps our engines going. These experiences fill up our sanity meter and charges us with a good dose of inspiration.

If you are on the look out, you might find it in art with Upstart production's Upstart Soundstage- a series of bi-weekly dramatic readings presented by Metrobank Card Corporation at Century City Mall.

Upstart Soundstage will present a different full-length drama, comedy, or musical every two weeks, each show featuring well-known theater personalities and stage directors. No props, no sets, no costumes—just pure performance. 

When asked about the show, G. Töngi, one of the main stars and Upstart Production's newly appointed Artistic Director, proudly declares, “Readings like this are very popular in L.A and New York,” Perfectly timing her birthday celebration with the first play in the series, which was launched last June 15, she says, “We want to do the same thing over here.

To that end, Upstart has lined up an impressive array of actors for the project: noted stage and screen personalities Audie Gemora, Noel Trinidad (one of Upstart’s board members), and Töngi herself, along with renowned directors like Anton Juan and Bobby Garcia.

It is great that despite this concept being new and foreign, Upstart Soundstage has found an audience in Manila. This is apparent when Töngi and her partners conducted a number of informal readings of this type, with all being very well-received. Upstart founder Joel Trinidad, Noel’s son, is not at all surprised. “I’ve always loved dramatic readings. When you take away the sounds and lights and costumes, you force people to really pay attention.”  While Upstart Managing Director Onyl Torres, who doubles as the company’s Musical Director and Composer, likens the medium to a radio play. “You get the same emotions, the same human drama,” he says. “It’s very powerful.” To which Töngi concurs, “In our last few readings, people were in tears—the actors and the audience.”

The Launch of the series last June 15 showed a powerful, witty, and deeply moving reading performance from the actors of Jane Anderson’s The Baby Dance- an emotionally charged drama about a suburban couple adopting the unborn baby of a poor couple. The drama explores the complications and consequences of surrogacy from the first meeting of the contrasting couples to the fateful day of the baby’s birth.

Upstart Soundstage will run continuously, every two weeks, in three-month blocks (or until the 7th of September), at 7:00 pm at the Century Plaza Event Center, 5th floor, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati. Other proposed shows in the series—which will run —include Pippin by Stephen Schwartz, Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet, The Seagull by Anton Chekov, Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Christopher Hampton, and many others. Tickets at P300 for plays, P500 for musicals, available at the door.

A different show every two weeks, at a fraction of the cost of a regular show,” notes Töngi. “Where else can you experience that?

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