Manila Metropolitan Theater Curtain to Rise for Magwayen

Ehipto, the new masterpiece of Magwayen Creative Scholars Guild, will be staged at the Manila Metropolitan Theater on January 29 and 30, 2011.

This curtain-raiser will be the guild’s grandest and most ambitious production to date. And what could be the best platform for this other than the “grand dame” itself, the Manila Metropolitan Theater?!

Magwayen, a student based theater organization, resides at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, the foremost university for the Manileno scholars. For the past 12 years, the guild has been performing at the university’s Justo Albert Auditorium. But for its biggest project, a play that will try to stage few of the Bible’s most majestic miracles, the members looked for a place that is more awe-inspiring. And that is where the MET comes in.

The Metropolitan Theater, being one of the most celebrated Art Deco structures in the Philippines, used to hold world-class theatrical performances, operas, musicales, pageants, and other lofty events during its heyday.
Unfortunately, the theater was severely damaged during the World War II. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos tried to restore it but it finally fell into decay in the 90’s.

But prepare to be stunned once more as the Government Service Insurance System, the City of Manila, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts join forces to restore its beauty and magic. 

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim wanted to re-establish this glorious theater for the underprivileged people of Manila so they may have better appreciation for arts and culture.

“We must make culture available and attractive to the masses,” Lim said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “The one venue the poor will find accessible is the Met, and that’s the reason why I think it should be revived. Once it opens, people will again get to see and hear the kundiman, zarzuela and other stage plays showcasing Filipino heritage and talents.”

The timing couldn’t get better as the sole theater group of the scholars of the Pamantasan decided to bring its best act into the regal arena. The members are now rehearsing and getting the “feel” of performing in the historically and culturally rich venue. The artists of this 12-year old guild, still considered young, just can’t hold their childish excitement every time they daydream of performing on the same stage as the cultural icons.

The Magwayen officers are seeking the help of Ms. Gemma Cruz-Araneta, vice chair of the Manila Historical and Heritage Commission and executive assistant to Mayor Alfredo Lim, in mounting this event. Ms. Araneta’s positive response overwhelms the young thespians. They couldn’t believe it’s finally happening.

The Exodus adaptation, written by Magwayen founder Marlon Miguel, will highlight the poignant relationship between the two brothers, Moses and Rameses. The Egyptian ruler, Rameses, in this production is not necessarily evil but merely a king trying to perform his duties in the best methods he possibly could. Meanwhile, the adopted prince, Moses, doesn’t despise his brother. Instead, he simply obeys the commands of the God of his people. In the course of carrying out their duties, to their people and to their faith, the brothers who once adored each other become opposing men who are driven by totally different forces.

Many of the key players are the organization’s finest members and alumni: from Executive Producer John Borgy Danao, Director Shengka Mangahas, Dance Consultant Michael Flororita, to actor and Production Manager Sheena Flor Tamayo, and co-actors Michael Cayatano, and Mark Angelo Lapada.

This January, Magwayen will reap another milestone.

This January, the Metropolitan Theater curtain will rise again.

This January, we will applaud for the Manilenian arts in its rightful home.

(this note was written by Shengka Mangahas, an alumni of PLM and the director of Magwayen's new play, EHIPTO)

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