Filipino theater wins in Belarus festival

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Dulaang Filipino (DF), the resident theater company of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), made the Philippines proud when its production of Oedipus by Sophocles won major prizes at the recent Teatralny Koufar International Student and Youth Theatre Festival in Minsk, Belarus.

The play was performed in our national language, before a non-Filipino speaking audience.

The awards included Best Performance by Amateur Theatre, Special Jury Prize for the Best Physical and Sound Solution, and Best Actress for Gracielle So. Ezra Ulanday was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Dulaang Filipino was the only group from Asia to be invited to the festival, in addition to companies from Belarus, Bulgaria, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom.

Dulaang Filipino’s production of ‘Oedipus’

“In order for the audience to relate in whatever language they’re speaking, I elevated the importance and use of the chorus, which is one of the conventions of a Greek play,” said Director Riki Benedicto. 

So, who performed the role of Antigone, said the Best Actress Award was important for her. “I got to bring something home to the people I love, especially my mother. She was my first mentor, and I know how much this award means to her. This experience will always be a constant reminder for me to keep going. Theater has been there with me ever since, and I will continue as long as I live.” 

The Dulaang Filipino members who participated in the festival included Jason Dawis, Nigel Lim, Beatrice Molina, Paulito Parohinog, Ian Santos, Marvin Sigue, Kiara Vicente and Jade Abendan from the Office of Culture and Arts stage production operations team.

Oedipus, first presented in 2014, is a one-hour reduction of Sophocles’ Theban trilogy, consisting of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone, in Filipino translations by Rolando Tinio and Onofre Pagsanjan. The production has been performed at the UP Theater Council’s Curtain Call Play Festival in 2014 and at the Mont-Laurier International Theatre Festival in Quebec, Canada in 2015.

It recently won the International University of La Rioja Award (UNIR) for Best International Show in the IV Premios Escenamateur Juan Mayorga de las Artes Escénicas.

Benedicto announced that the company has already received invitations to stage Oedipus next year in the United Kingdom, Poland, Georgia, and Lithuania.

The Teatralny Koufar, considered to be one of the most influential youth theater forums in Eastern Europe, is the only international student theater festival in Belarus. Organized by the Belarussian State University, it aims to serve as a transnational platform that unites talented and active young people from around the world. Since the event was first held 13 years ago, theater groups from more than 60 countries have joined the festival.

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