Cris Villonco starts own theater company

Posted at 02/06/13 9:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- An upcoming theater production company headed by stage actress Cris Villonco is hoping to cover "controversial" themes that have yet to be fully explored in the local theater scene.

Cris Villonco. File photo

"For a long time na, marami sa amin, we really like straight plays. We like certain materials that we feel might not be covered by other theater companies. So Red Turnip would be another way to do that," Villonco told ABS-CBN News on Wednesday.

Co-founded by stage actors Rem Zamora, Jenny Jamora, Ana Abad Santos and Topper Fabregas, who alll have been associated with Repertory Philippines, Red Turnip Theater, Inc. will be launched in October.

"Everybody just branched out. Coming from Rep, PETA or Tanghalang Pilipino, everybody puts up another company, and it's also to focus on a specific type of genre, or a specific kind of text -- dramatic or musical," Villonco explained.

"I think everybody dreams of being able to... parang business 'di ba. It's nice to have all these other several businesses that are up and running that present shows that a lot of people can watch -- different kinds of markets, classes, social levels, kids, adults, that kind of situation," added Villonco, whose early work on stage have been mostly under Rep.

Lately, however, she has also appeared with other theater companies such as Atlantis Productions on "A Little Night Music" and Tanghalang Pilipino on "Walang Sugat."

'Controversial, not scandalous'

Villonco said the offerings of Red Turnip will "push the limits of Philippine theater."

"It's probably going to be riskier than most. We kind of want it that way. Hindi siya gaano ka-wholesome; gusto namin in your face. Pero hindi naman skandalo or controversial... Well, it might be controversial, but not naman scandalous," she said.

Eight months ahead of its formal launch, Red Turnip has yet to come up with a line-up of stage offerings for its maiden season. But Villonco said the theater company is eyeing adaptations of local independent films -- a source she considers rich in bold themes.

Specifically, Villonco pointed to movies produced by Reyna Films. The local film production company was founded by the stage actress' grandmother, former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chairperson Armida Siguion-Reyna.

Villonco hopes to adapt certain Reyna movies for the stage, saying they had been "ahead of their time" in terms of the themes they centered on. Among those Villonco mentioned are "Azucena" (2000), "Ligaya ang Itawag Mo Sa Akin" (1997), "Tatlo, Magkasalo" (1998), and "Kahapon May Dalawang Bata" (1999).

She also cited the success of PETA's recent stage adaptation of the Lino Brocka film "Bona."

Currently, Villonco topbills another stage offering from the same theater company. Titled the "D Wonder Twins of Boac" -- a musical adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" -- the new PETA offering is directed by Maribel Legarda and written by Rody Vera (read our review here). It will have 30 shows until March 3 at the PETA Theater Center.