A swimming pool, a printing press, an abandoned school in Cubao—these hardly seem like the ideal performance spaces for any theater group, what with companies setting up shop in casino-led theaters and developments around the metro. But for edge-work, artist-run performance company Sipat Lawin Ensemble, they go wherever their consciousness and creative impulses take them. “Our works are oftentimes participatory and grounded by our survey of immediate communities,” shares artistic director and theater provocateur JK Anicoche. “Together with our participating audiences, our performances are rehearsals for possibilities, for revolution.”
It was in 2012 when Sipat tore up the scene with Battalia Royale, their adaptation of Battle Royale, a Japanese cult film based on a novel that may have served as a precursor to The Hunger Games. Wherein a group of high schoolers are kidnapped and awakened to the charge of killing one another until only one person is left, it was a film that served as the springboard for the group’s most massive work yet. “How [Battalia] generated 150 audiences on the first day, 350 to 400 on the second day, and 900-plus on the third was something else,” shares JK, describing the turnout at the CCP Promenade. During the show, audiences were herded from scene to scene to witness the killings, and were then given sanction to choose their own adventure—all the while treated to a live scoring by Radioactive Sago Project. The experience was like being inside a Tarantino movie.
The show merited its own share of praises as well as condemnations from the academe, particularly on a scene where audiences were asked to decide whether or not a student should be publicly executed. “It opened the theater to understanding its new audiences,” shares JK, adding that the work engendered two follow-up documentary performances that would be showcased in Australia.
Read the rest of the story on the April 2016 issue of Preview Magazine.