Thursday, October 22, 2015

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The Thing chats with Jam Pascual and Regine Cabato, two writers from The Sandbox Collective’s No Filter 2.0.

"For millennials, by millennials, about millennials." A compilation of about 19 monologues, recited by nine different cast members—from the internal struggles we have during job interviews, to the battlefield that is finding the perfect Tinder match, No Filter 2.0 is the reboot of The Sandbox Collective's No Filter: Let's Talk About Me that was staged last July to August.

Directed by Toff de Venecia and starring Jasmine Curtis, Sam Concepcion, Lauren Young, Cai Cortez, Micah Munoz, Sarah Facuri, Mikael Daez, Carla Humphries, Khalil Kaimo and Paolo Valenciano, No Filter 2.0 perfectly captured what it means to be a millennial.

It was through watching No Filter 2.0 that I was reminded of a time where we could care less about how we looked, or what we wore, because we didn’t have hundreds of people on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram who could judge us and give us their unsolicited advice. This probably explains why we have such hideous photos (admit it!) from our adolescence, and why the teens of today all seem to look like they have it all figured out.

With one weekend left to go see the show, I suggest those born between the years 1980 and 2000 to go out and get a ticket because you will leave that theater with feelings of hopefulness and gratitude for you were born into the greatest generation to walk the earth. (Well, at least that’s the way I see it). - Gaby Azarcon

If you still aren't convinced, check out our interview with Jam Pascual (headwriter) and Regine Cabato (writer of No te Vayas)!

Jam Pascual, head writer
1. What changes did you and your co-writer decide to make for No Filter 2.0?
The goal was to cover more ground. What we came to understand, during and after the first run, is that we weren't saying enough about the experience of Generation Y. Of course, we came into this project knowing fully that such a condition couldn’t be totally pinned down, but at the same time, we knew that were some stories that needed to be told. No Filter 2.0 was an opportunity to do that.
Wanggo Gallaga is my co-writer. It was through working with him that we were able to smooth out some of the rough edges of the show. Part of that process included revising some of the pieces we were keeping, taking out the pieces that didn’t quite fit the whole we had in mind, and making sure the text could be performatized. Wanggo, being the dramaturg, was a crucial voice in making sure that last aspect could be carried out well.

2. Did you approach the show differently this time around? If yes, how so?
If the approach was different, it was because of the new limitations presented to us. Unlike the first run, No Filter 2.0 is, as of writing this, being shown in a blackbox theater. The stage designer (Kayla Teodoro) had to take this into consideration.

Did I approach the show differently this time around? Somewhat. With the first run, we started from the ground-up, thinking of a whole bunch of topics then thinking about who the best writers would be for those topics. This time around, we were already working with an existing structure, plus we had a clearer vision of what we wanted to accomplish. The approach, for me, was for the most part, an act of revision.
Dashing divas: Sarah Facuri and Cai Cortez

3. How did you decide which monologues to keep in the show?
It was a tough process, deciding which monologues to keep. But we were bringing in new pieces, and cutting some other pieces out was a necessary cost of managing length. If we didn’t delete stuff, we’d be giving the public a three hour play, which is not the best thing.

There was a piece in the first run called “Coming of Age,” which ended up being replaced specifically by “Breakup Season.” When I wrote “Coming of Age,” it was me tackling an idea. When I wrote “Breakup Season,” it was me tackling an idea through the lens of a specific experience. We’ve found that this is what tends to work. A piece that gives an overview look of a certain issue tends to be weaker than a piece which begins from the details of a particular experience, then zooms out. Examine the universal by beginning with the personal.

4. Why did you decide to change the ending monologue? 
Y’know what, I wasn’t sure if we were really going to do it. I was so fixated on revising and editing the pieces between that the beginning and end just kind of slipped my mind.

I should explain myself. The reason we had a beginning and ending in the first run was to give the show a sound structure. Make the two halves of the play symmetrical, treat the pieces like bookends, let the audience know what they’re in for and give them a sense of resolution once everything is said and done. But there are creative merits to just diving right into the pieces. It’s a little less apologetic, we get right down to business, and we trust our audience to figure things out along the way.

6. Did you take into account feedback from the audience when you were making these decisions?
Feedback was especially important to me. I always paid special attention to the reviews of the shows, and while it was nice to see people saying nice things about No Filter, I wasn’t given much by way of how to improve the show. For that, I had to go up to people and ask them to be frank with me. There was some criticisms that I managed to address, and others that I couldn’t. It’s a work in progress. If a third No Filter comes around, there will be changes. I didn’t go into this expecting everything to be perfect from the get-go. No Filter will never be perfect, and this is something I’m okay with.

The millennials in your neighborhood: Sam Concepcion and Jasmine Curtis

Regine Cabato, writer of No te Vayas
How did you end up contributing to No Filter 2.0?
Jam Pascual, a former orgmate and good friend of mine, hit me a message a couple of months ago. Jam, who is a great writer, told me about their plans to restage No Filter.  He said that this new play wanted to create a more diverse set of millennials, and asked me if I would be game to write a monologue for it about moving the city.  I said yes immediately, because it was a topic that really hit home.

Was No te Vayas written specifically for the show?   Was it inspired by the renga from the poetry workshop you gave at the Ateneo de Zamboanga High School?
Yes, and yes.  When I went home for the long summer, I was asked to give a poetry seminar to high school students from my alma mater, Ateneo de Zamboanga City.  I asked them to make rengas, which are poems written on the fly; one person writes a line, and the second person adds another, and so on. 

The photo I posted was my favorite from that set, and it referenced the Zamboanga folk song "No Te Vayas."  I asked them to translate "No te vayas," and they translated it to "Don't leave Zamboanga." However, the direct translation in the context of the song means "Don't leave for Zamboanga."  I don't think the students realized the ingenuity of the pun that they had discovered.  I take no credit for this idea at all.  The whole monologue itself was prompted by other things as well.
Don't cut off the wings of children. We were meant to fly: Micah Munoz recites one of the standout monologues

What else inspired you when you were writing No te Vayas? How much of your personal experience did you include in it?
I drew heavily from personal experience when writing the monologue. The experiences cited, like the persona's father saying “Take care,” conversations with people who joke about Mindanao, and even the phone call, all happened.  It was prompted mostly by how my friends and I reacted to the 2013 siege.  I somehow felt very guilty about having been eager to leave Zamboanga for college.  A lot of us want to leave the hometown, expand our experience, and find opportunities elsewhere.  We want security.  But at the same time, there is a sense of nostalgia and obligation to the town that raised you, to help it despite its situation.  It's a debate with the self, and a struggle that many young Zamboangeños face. 

Many of the show's reviews cite your monologue as one of its standouts. How do you feel about this reception?
Where are these reviews?!  Haha!  I'm frankly very overwhelmed as a couple of people have approached me to tell me that they liked it.  I do hope that people do.  Ever since I came to Manila, I have taken it upon myself to correct people's one-track stereotype of Mindanao and the people who are from there.  Chimamanda Adichie said that the thing about stereotypes isn't that they're false, it's that they're incomplete.  Yes, the development and security situation in Mindanao is poor, but there are still things that we hold in common with any other Filipino.

In this case, our youth is a common factor. I just wanted to be honest about my experience, and offer something that will contribute to multiple ways of understanding the situation in Mindanao.  I know that I can't raise awareness to everyone, but being part of No Filter 2.0 has definitely extended that reach.

For tickets, visit the Ticketworld website or head on over to The Sandbox Collective's Facebook and Instagram (@thesandboxco). You better hurry, as they have only five shows left!

Intro by Gaby A. and Anto
Art and interviews by Gaby G.
Cover photo by Arielle, other photos courtesy of The Sandbox Collective
Gaby Azarcon is an AB Psychology major who loves learning about how people work. Traveling is her ultimate passion, but in her spare time she likes to read, bake, and cook pasta. 

Gaby is used to working quietly in the background. The Thing is her first big attempt at taking the lead. She isn't sure how it is going to go, considering that most of her time is spent trying to get her dog to listen to her. On most days, you would find her at her computer, excessively bookmarking links to DIY projects and articles about teenage wunderkind.

Anto is a fashion enthusiast, stage actress and a rookie ‘hallyu wave’ blogger. She attributes much of her sense of style to Korean and London street fashion. Expect more of her from The Thing and her blog,
Arielle is currently a fine arts student (Information Design). She loves taking pictures, watching movies, going to new places, hoarding books and collaborating with other people to make things. She would like to pursue a career in photography, film and design (yes all three) in the future.


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