by SAMANTHA Z. ARGONZA
THE CURTAINS have finally opened. Artistang Artlets (AA) and Mediartrix return on stage as they welcomed the juniors and sophomores to the university-wide Homecoming event.
This lauds their first live in-person performance since the pandemic happened.
The applause and drumbeats inside the Quadricentennial Pavilion (QPAV) last August 23rd muted the heavy spatter of rain.
Gleaming with the spotlight, the performers stood on the platform as the ocean of lights surrounded them like waves as if it was a cordial greeting solely meant for them.
“It’s unbelievable because we did not expect it,” Alea Loquinario, a performer from AA said.
She said that it was a huge leap for their organization to be invited to the event as they were used to performing in small venues before the pandemic.
“From first-year classroom to fourth-year QPAV, it’s huge—I am overjoyed,” AA president Mikaela Francesca Nitro said after being asked how it felt to perform again on stage.
“It is the homecoming for the sophomores and juniors, but it is also the homecoming of Mediartrix back on the UST stage,” Mediartrix performer Tricia Nicole Tariman said.
Tariman added that performing at the Homecoming reignited her love for performing, which reminded her why she chose to major in music theater in the first place.
For Bianca Irene Margallo, another performer from AA, it served as proof that they could create something relatable and relevant. “Seeing that our audiences are very responsive—nothing beats that, it just really makes us cry,” Margallo said.
“[I am] happy, excited, anxious, grateful, overwhelmed. We have mixed emotions, but joy has overpowered it,” Mediartrix president Caila Eunice Remedios shared.
‘All worth it!’
With only a week to prepare, Nitro said that they collaborated with the AA alumni as they struggled to source staff for the event.
“Since it’s also the homecoming of our junior and sophomore members, it was difficult to convince them to join the staff,” she said.
Remedios added that time constraint was their hardest challenge. “We were juggling our academic work schedule with our rehearsal time,” she said.
They admitted that exhaustion and lack of sleep got in their way. “We had to squeeze all the creative juices and traded sleep for brainstorming,” Remedios said.
She added that finding rehearsal spaces has become another detour toward the stage.
“You also have to be physically and emotionally ready,” Loquinario replied when asked about their means to address any unanticipated problem.
To overcome these struggles, Remedios mentioned that it is really important to surround oneself with people who share the same passion for art.
Exceeding the expectation
Performers from AA revealed that mastery of their lines felt natural as their play was about expressing how it feels to return face-to-face to the university.
“We got reactions from the audience in instances or scenes that we least expected. There’s a quick response and you could see how happy they are,” Nitro said. “You really are performing for someone.”
“You can feel the theater more when it’s physical rather than in Zoom,” Loquinario said.
Concerns before revolved around electrical interruptions or slow bandwidth of internet connections, but their stories now convey ever-evolving experiences that bridge the online sphere to the physical space.
Their enthusiasm to perform has been a huge factor in their performance.
“Finally, this is our time […] maybe this is our last chance, so we have to give it our all, give it our best, because we don’t know when we will totally return to the stage,” Nitro explained.
On the other hand, Mediartrix has performed a mini-musical sharing how their Thomasian experiences can also be similar to what the juniors and sophomores will go through.
Tariman said that their message highlights that nobody is alone in their college journey.
They showed that college, indeed, is a rollercoaster ride. “There will be ups and downs in between, [a lot of] setbacks and breakthroughs,” Remedios added.
‘Feels like family’
When asked what their performance meant for them, Nitro replied that everything will go back to the theater stage. “Everything is just a spark of hope,” she said.
Margallo added that it exudes a feeling of peace.
“It seems that I feel calm now […] I know that they (the audience) will enjoy the campus life, if ever we can return to UST face-to-face,” Margallo said.
According to Loquinario, a welcoming approach is what they are also trying to convey in their play. “It gives pride at the same time, it feels like home,” she said.
This gathering has woven another fabric of a support system.
“You can also hear the organizers and other organizations cheer for each other,” Mediartrix president said.
Surrounded by the event’s roaring energy, Tariman added, “The spirit of the Thomasian community is well and alive.”
“It is also a reminder for us performers that a live audience is life,” she said.
Another season of purpose
The stage was what Nitro looked forward to, not just for AA, but for all theater organizations.
“This is really the reason why we are performing,” she said. “The fact that there’s someone watching you, there’s an interaction, there’s something you’re performing for, there’s a message that is being conveyed.”
This also calls to further their advocacy-driven initiatives this academic year such as their annual Violence Against Women (VAW) productions and Junior/Senior Theater Literacy Programs (JTLP/STLP).
“We teach [and] we educate through theater,” Nitro said.
Moreover, for Mediartrix which is a multimedia organization, live performances are what keeps them excited. This includes participating in the age-old traditions in UST.
“I can’t wait for them to experience the magic that Mediartrix has to offer,” Tariman said.
“Tied on you,” which is one of their musical productions that were at pause last academic term, will be continued.
According to Remedios, the musical is a reminder of slowing down amid the busy pace “to absorb the little moments and to simply value life.”
The theater organizations are not even near to taking their final bow as their stage has just reopened. F