This year will be the 70th birth anniversary of an eminent playwright, Bienvenido M. Noriega, Jr., as well as his 28th death anniversary. Many will agree that Boy, as he was well known, was one of the best Filipino playwrights of his generation.
Erehwon Center for the Arts will honor his memory by producing one of his best-known plays, Bayan Bayanan: Texts from Home, in partnership with the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Its premiere will be on the evening of July 15, followed by a 7:00 p.m. show on July 16 and a 3:00 p.m. matinee on July 17, at Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo.
Boy’s close friend, Anton Juan, who is multi-awarded as well, will direct the play and has given it a refreshing new treatment as a musical. New songs have been composed by Juan, himself, along with Cleofe Guangco-Casambre, who had composed for the play, Rizal’s Sweet Stranger; Russ Narcies Cabico, who is also a theater and television actor and singer; pianist-composer Andrew Bryan Sapigao; and composer-musical arranger Jonathan Cruz.
Creative treatments for set and lighting design have been conceptualized by international set designer Ohm David, with exciting young, theater lighting designer Meliton Roxas, Jr. It will be a fresh, modern staging of a classic play.
Prolific writer Jose “Butch” Dalisay, looks up to Boy and describes him as thus, “He understood and magnified the human condition onstage with uncommon empathy, and without the histrionics that passed for drama in lesser hands.”
In 1995, Ateneo de Manila University posthumously conferred upon Noriega its prestigious Tanglaw ng Lahi Award, which noted: “The significance of Noriega’s achievement in Theater and Film will be impoverished unless it is put in place with his career in banking and government service.
Here one does not find the simple case of competition between work and service or between two careers or even loves. Noriega was expert in his two occupations—as writer and technocrat.”