Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Free admission

The group has been known primarily as an independent theater group based in Baguio. For the past 14 years, we told stories – from that very first production of a performance art piece called “Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll” in 1996 to last year’s paean to the City of Baguio called “Kafagway, Sa Saliw Ng Mga Gangsa.”

In between telling stories onstage, we’ve shared what we can with children from various communities in the Cordilleras to help them tell their own stories.

In recent years, as our family grew with the entry of artists from other artistic fields, we’ve branched out to other forms of creative expression – photography, music, film and literature. We’ve put together a portrait of Baguio with “Portrait of a Hill Station,” a documentary on this beautiful city’s history,  a compilation of original musical compositions with “Pag-ibig Sa Tinubuang Lupa,” several photo exhibits, and a few feature articles and original scripts. We’ve made ourselves available to fellow theater artists who needed and asked for our support, and performed for the love of Baguio (as most local impresarios would call it when there’s no budget for professional fees).

We’ve performed to an audience of 5,000 excited, boisterous students at gymnasiums. We’ve performed to an audience of five serious, supportive, critical peers in an art gallery. We’ve told our stories in Baguio, Beguet, Ilocos, La Union, Pangasinan, Batangas and Manila; through plays, music, photographs, moving pictures; at conventions, anniversaries, weddings, festivals, exhibit openings and book launchings.

We treated each storytelling opportunity the way whether it’s a big budgeted production or gratis, that never mattered, perhaps the reason why we lasted this long.

We believed in the Baguio artist, and we did all we can to put them on a pedestal, to honor them, respect them, help uplift the local performing arts scene for them, for it broke our heart every time we see them forced to set aside their God-given talents for nursing or call-center jobs. And with this group, admission's free - the door has always been wide open to anyone who believed in him or herself, and who’s in love with this wonderful thing called art.

Now, almost a year since the last curtain call, we’ll try to get together once again for an evening of more stories, we’ll try to gather as many storytellers as possible, and we’ll tell as many stories as we can. For the truth is, we can’t help but think every time we go up on that stage if there’ll ever be another opportunity to tell another one tomorrow. Nothing big on the night of October 29, 2010 at Marien Platz at the basement of La Azotea Bldg. on Session Road, just a lot of songs and laughter and love. And a lot of songs.

So what is this group called Open Space? A theater company?  A production outfit? A studio? A workshop? Since I first decided to make Baguio my home in 1996, making it Open Space’s too in the process, we have always ended our written communication with, “in our journey to provide an alternative form of entertainment that consistently presents relevant social and cultural issues, we shall remain, yours sincerely.” Open Space is a concept, a family of artists, a venue for artistic expression. What we do is simple - we agree on an idea, we gather like-minded/hearted souls and together, we go out there to express idea that we believe must be communicated to an audience.   

And for most of the last 14 years, we performed mostly for the sake of performing. Why? Sometimes, I believe, to borrow from a monologue from “Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll,”  ‘just to make sure we’re really alive.’
So one more time, with feelings – October 29, 2010 at Marien Platz along Session Road: “Broadway Session.” That’s a Friday night. Admission’s free.      

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