By ADRIAN PAUL L. TAÑEDO
LOVE EXISTS in dimensions that humans haphazardly traverse. It is a force that is capable of transcending all social constructs. It is an emotion that everyone is able to feel and recognize, and it is powerful enough to make familiar or foreign souls realize a mutual longing for each other.
However, humans also put restrictions on the force of love. Society dictates compatibility between lovers based on social strata and gender. Humans tend to suppress their own urge to reach out for love in fear of the unknown lurking within their hearts, causing them to lose their true form that is dormant within themselves.
Nonetheless, when humans realize that there is only so much that they can repress, they find out that a berserk catharsis severs the chains that fastens both society and the self, allowing them to ultimately achieve clarity and transcend the commonplace.
Esprit de Corps
The first arc of Teatro Tomasino’s production Singhap is Esprit de Corps. It tells the story of Mac, the S3 of his battalion, and Abel, a soldier aspiring for Mac’s position for the succeeding term. The first act tells the story of a forbidden love in the realm of a repressive state apparatus, which, in this play’s case, is the army.
The military shapes soldiers into entities that blindly follow the commands of their superiors. This is shown through Mac’s harsh training regimen and through the punishments that he imposes on Abel. This creates room for much repression because only authorities can dictate what is good and right.
Mac’s overly harsh demeanor stems from his own personal experiences with his superior who dragged him down the dregs of military life, leaving no love and consideration in his heart. When Abel begins to defy Mac by repeatedly answering back to him, Mac starts to see a version of a man that he wishes he could be: a man defiant to authority willing to reach great lengths for his desires. He begins to see Abel in a different light and makes romantic advances towards him. This serves as Mac’s stepping stone in finding a change in himself.
A.Y.L.I tells the story of Issa and Bea, two friends who used to be very close. Their friendship began to dwindle due to their separation after graduating from college. The two friends spend their time catching up by asking each other how their lives are going.
Issa expresses the stockpiled emotional repression that she feels for going after the connection that an orthodox heterosexual relationship brings. She is the representation of the amassed regret that many people feel for not going after their genuine desires for fear of being ostracized by society.
Bea, on the other hand, symbolizes those who cower from admitting their feelings in fear of being turned away by the one they adore. After a lengthy and fierce confession of their romantic feelings, they permit their carnal desires for each other to run amok thanks to their mutual inebriation—but the rest is left to the audience’s imagination as the curtains fall before the characters’ lips make contact.
Kublihan is the final arc of Singhap. It tackles the story of Mike, a senior, and Julio, a junior Mike will leave behind after graduating from high school. The story revolves around the separation anxiety that the two feel after finding out that they will have to part ways and possibly never cross paths again.
Mike displays the side of mankind that proves that speaking from the heart has its merits and helps one reach those they care for. Julio, on the other hand, shows the sincerity that lies within the quiet and pensive people whose feelings are just as valid as anyone else’s. Mike and Julio are a testament that people often realize the significance of love when someone is about to leave.
Singhap is an audacious attempt to challenge conventions on gender as each arc features pairs who act like typical men and women at first. When they become unable to withstand the emotional pressure, their true selves are exposed. They yearn for the same sex and leave glimpses of human beings in the raw.
The production also attempts to heighten the mood of the play through the lighting. During serious scenes, little light enters the setting, allowing the darkness to swallow the set and elevate the latent emotions that the actors and actresses wish to awaken among their audience.
Finally, with Teatro Tomasino attempting to be true to their production title, Singhap seeks to give a message that excessive inhalation of emotions stops one from breathing while exhalation becomes a form of release that is necessary to maintain sanity. F