How can one assess the merit of a theatrical performance when it is presented in a very unconventional way?

Involving the audience and stirring them to be emotionally charged as some agitprop plays did during Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorial regime back in the 70s in Manila, is a theatre device that is not alien to many.

However, what sets this new performance and installation piece apart from the rest is not only its ability to involve, but to totally immerse the audience for the entire duration of the performance, allowing themselves to engage in a 3D-kind-of-theatre experience.

Within & Without is a hybrid and highly interactive piece of theatre where each collaborator’s contribution before, during and after the creating process seems not to matter unless all participating artists acknowledge the fact that each one’s skill or talent is as essential as that of the others, in achieving the desired overall effect.

Theatre director RC Reyes at Within & Without

Theatre director RC Reyes at Within & Without

For instance, it is likely that the actors will fail to convey the message of their performance even with the aid of the spoken dialogues if they do not rely on the other elements of the production: such as the miniature city installation sprawling over the entire floor plan of the Blacktown Arts Centre; the technically ingenious live video coverage and its beautifully designed wall projection; the well-crafted shadow plays of the highly artful triumvirate-team effort of Anino Shadowplay Collective; and lastly, but equally important, the on-the-spot participation of the minimal and controlled number of audience.

The only likely problem Within & Without could encounter is the nature of un-portability in the event of a subsequent performance at other locations. Unlike a conventional play a traditional theatre director like me tends to deliver, where sets and props can be easily moved.  In this case, the transporting of the installation part of this unique and highly commendable theatre production could probably pose the only setback.

Though feeling envious of the result of their collaborative output, still, let me congratulate the team composed of Paschal Daantos Berry, Deborah Pollard, Valerie Berry and the Anino Shadowplay Collective team of Datu Arellano, Andrew Cruz and Don Maralit Salubayba . Also to other geniuses namely; Jack Horton, Kenneth Moraleda, David Buckley, Melanie Palomares and Jane Pangilinan—a job well done.

And I hope to see you in your next collaboration!

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