APLAYA: The Art of Giving and Receiving

Poster from Artistang Artlets official Facebook page

In its 43rd season of Junior Theater’s Literacy Production, Artistang Artlets, the Faculty of Arts and Letters’ official theater guild, showcased APLAYA at the St. Raymund de Peñafort’s building on April 13.

Directed by Mari Ymanuel Roxas and led by Azrah Louise Halili, the play explored the themes of personal ambition and the hidden stories within a community.

Written by Romayne Humiwat, APLAYA presents a snobbish but aspiring dressmaker, Ayla (Claire Maquiller), who recently moved to Barangay Aplaya. While she embarks on a mission to pursue her dreams of becoming a well-known designer, she encounters her new neighbors who boast loud and free personalities, contrasting with Ayla’s strict demeanor.

Throughout the story, Ayla and her neighbor Alon (Kent Erasga) show their aspirations in relatable dialogues, effectively showcasing the characters’ thoughts. Comedy also played a significant part in the play’s genre, all thanks to the side characters Jordan (Oliver Claudio) and Marnie (Jessie Rivera), who were Alon’s friends.

The actors effectively delivered a play full of lessons about selflessness and receptiveness. All of the actors’ performances were excellent, especially the actress behind the role of Ayla. Maquiller’s acting, from grand gestures and dialogues to microexpressions, made Ayla’s character come to life thanks to her high-quality acting.

The play’s comedic touch would have been impossible without the actors behind the duo Jordan and Marnie. Claudio and Rivera were everyone’s tropa throughout the play. They offered the audience a familiar and deep friendship bond that almost everyone can relate to.

Esgara’s acting did not disappoint. The actor pulled the audience with his emotional yet awe-inspiring speeches, like when Alon advises Ayla to stop restricting herself because it hinders her from finishing her work. Erasga effectively fleshed out Alon’s character. He successfully captured the audience’s attention.

Aside from their performances, the actors’ costumes aligned greatly with the characters. Ayla wore a fashionable and adorned outfit, signifying her stylistic personality. Meanwhile,  Alon, Jordan and Marnie wore simple sandos and basketball shorts, fit for the scorching afternoon weather. These costume designs contributed to the build-up of the characters’ attitudes and differences.

APLAYA unfolded in a makeshift sari-sari store and a house. The stage had a variety of the usual litters of the outdoors: dried leaves, empty soda bottles and campaign posters. A walis ting-ting stood by the corner of the makeshift sari-sari store— a common cleaning material in the neighborhood. Through the production design, the audience experienced a sense of familiarity, as if the viewers were transported back to their respective barangays.

In terms of ambiance, Artistang Artlets’ technical team played a pivotal role in the play’s ability to provide a sense of familiarity. The room was slightly dimmed, with only yellow lights and a hint of natural white in a few spotlights, illuminating the stage to mimic an afternoon’s sunlight. The technical team also chose faint tricycle noises as background noise, effectively demonstrating the play’s setting.

Although the play would have been better if it had lasted a little longer than it did, the end came fast once it reached its climax—a slight let-down to some of the audience who expected more fillers.

Ultimately, APLAYA encapsulated the layers of communal relationships and the openness to a stranger’s kindness. Despite being wary and skeptical about asking for help from her neighbor, Ayla accepted Alon’s offer of unused fabrics to finish her commission. While Alon, even though he thought he and his sari-sari store lacked at first, still tried to help his new neighbor.

There was a tug-of-war in the characters’ decision-making processes due to their hidden insecurities. However, their receptiveness and willingness to help each other prevailed. This narrative marked the intention of the play’s creation: to transpire openness of the mind and the heart. F

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