Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Upstart Dramatic Readings

Media celebrity G Töngi, newly appointed Artistic Director of Upstart Productions, heads the cast of a dramatic reading of the powerful American play The Baby Dance, brought to you by Metrobank Card Corporation. This one-night-only performance is set for 7:00 pm on Sunday, June 15, 2014 at Century City Mall, and kicks off an entire series of dramatic readings called Upstart Soundstage. No props, no sets, no costumes—just a different play or musical every other Sunday until September 7.

“Readings like this are very popular in L.A and New York,” declares Töngi, who has timed her birthday celebration to coincide with the first play in the series. “We want to do the same thing over here.” To that end, Upstart has lined up an impressive array of actors for the project: noted stage and screen personalities Audie Gemora, Noel Trinidad (one of Upstart’s board members), and Töngi herself, along with renowned directors like Anton Juan and Bobby Garcia. 

Upstart Soundstage will present a different full-length drama, comedy, or musical every two weeks, each show featuring well-known theater personalities and stage directors. No props, no sets, no costumes—just pure performance.

But will Manila audiences take to the concept of stage shows without any staging? Apparently, they already have: Töngi and her partners have conducted quite a few informal readings of this type, and they’ve all been very well-received. Upstart founder Joel Trinidad, Noel’s son, is not at all surprised. “I’ve always loved dramatic readings, “ he shares. “When you take away the sounds and lights and costumes, you force people to really pay attention.” Upstart Managing Director Onyl Torres, who doubles as the company’s Musical Director and Composer, likens the medium to a radio play. “You get the same emotions, the same human drama,” he says. “It’s very powerful.” Töngi concurs: “In our last few readings, people were in tears—the actors and the audience.”

Upstart Soundstage kicks off with Töngi’s birthday celebration: a reading of Jane Anderson’s The Baby Dance, an emotionally charged drama about a suburban couple adopting the unborn baby of a poor couple. Other proposed shows in the series—which will run continuously, every two weeks, in three-month blocks—include Pippin by Stephen Schwartz, Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet, The Seagull by Anton Chekov, Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Christopher Hampton, and many others. “A different show every two weeks, at a fraction of the cost of a regular show,” notes Töngi. “Where else can you experience that?”

Upstart Soundstage: The Dramatic Readings. Started last Sunday, June 15, at 7:00 pm at the event space on the 5th floor of Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati, and playing continuously every other Sunday from then on. Show schedule may change based on availability of performance rights and other factors. 

Tickets at P300 each, available at the door. Presented by Metrobank Card Corporation in cooperation with Century City Mall. From Upstart Productions.

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