This year’s Virgin Labfest focuses on education

Published November 17, 2021, 4:12 PM

by Joe Priela

Embracing new possibilities and new narratives emboldened by the times

VLF 2021

This year’s Virgin Labfest (VLF), hosted by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the Writer’s Bloc, and Tanghalang Pilipino, will focus on education, with festival components highlighting FFF: Fair, Fellowship, and Flashback.

Established in 2005, VLF is the premier playwrights’ festival in the country producing untried, untested, and unstaged works. It is known for programming and providing support for the development of plays that dare define and defy the times.

For 2021, VLF takes on “Yakap” (embrace) as its catchphrase. This year, the festival strives to embrace the artistic community as it struggles to survive the terrible pandemic. To embrace new possibilities and new narratives emboldened by the times and embrace the audience with works that have provided comfort and enjoyment in the past.

The Playwrights Fair, which will be streamed from Nov. 24 to Dec. 5, 2021 every 8 p.m., will feature conversations with playwrights from all over the country. VLF recognizes the works and the lives of artists and playwrights who passed away during this time of pandemic. The event also features current playwrights, their challenges, efforts, and experiences through virtual platforms that were and are currently being used to cope with the changes the pandemic has brought to the theater community, as well as to get updates about local and US-based theater communities, and steps they’ve been taking to cope with the current situation.

Playwrights’ Fair calendar

The Writing Fellowship Program will be conducted from Nov. 16 to Dec. 5, 2021, under the tutelage of award-winning playwright Glenn Sevilla Mas. Its culminating activity, which will be streamed for public viewing on Dec. 5, will be directed by Dennis Marasigan. While the conditions of the pandemic precluded the staging of new works, for Flashback, the festival will feature some of the best works from VLF 1–15, curated from the extensive archives of the CCP.

In 2020, during the early stages of the global pandemic, VLF spearheaded processes and new possibilities of staging and presenting performances for audiences across the Philippines and the world. It was a dream to bring the works onstage and document the works for audiences to watch online this year. Given the rising number of cases and the precarity of the situation, the organizers chose to prioritize the safety of performance-makers and make use of the time to pause, reflect, lookback, and move forward.

The festival will be streamed on the CCP, VLF, and Tanghalang Pilipino official Facebook pages.