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(Re)presenting Ritual: A Reflection on the Approaches in Depicting the Sacred in Sintang Dalisay

Posted in News @ UP Asian Center

Professor MCM Santamaria of the UP Asian Center presented, “(Re)presenting Ritual: A Reflection on the Approaches in Depicting the Sacred in Sintang Dalisay, a Filipino Adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet” in an international symposium recently held on 1 June 2016 at the National University of Tainan, Tainan, Taiwan.

Below is the abstract of his presentation:

Sintang Dalisay is a Filipino Adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This work of theatre sought to relocate Shakespeare’s tale about star-crossed lovers in an imaginary of Muslim community in the Southern Philippines through the use of, among others, the Sama-Bajau igal dance and kulintangan ensemble music traditions. Along with traditional dance and music, prayers and rituals were, in a rather cautious manner, appropriated and interpreted for theatrical purposes. Although generally well-received by the viewing public, the play was targeted by some critics who expressed reservations about its purported lack of ‘authenticity,’ particularly in the area of depicting rituals. This paper seeks to address the issue of representation b putting forward the idea that works of theatre ought not to be treated like ethnographic documents. Given aesthetic considerations, limitations in production time, and constraints imposed by a relatively limited audience attention span, works of theatre cannot adhere closely to the value of ritual detail and authenticity. Instead, the value of absolute ‘truth’ gives way to ‘sincerity’ in depiction. ‘Authenticity’ is, therefore, not seen as the core value in theatrical productions. It is tempered by the necessity of artistic license, which in turn ought to spring from shared notions of appropriateness, good taste, clarity, and functional brevity.

Themed “Re-inventing South Eastern Asian Community Theatre and Dance in Glocalization Time,” the international symposium was organized by the National University of Tainan. His notes on the choreography was displayed during the performance. 

While in Taiwan, Professor Santamaria also graced on 3 June 2016 the premiere of the play, “If We Still Have Tomorrow,” which he co-choreographed. His choreographic notes were posted during the premiere, and can be read here.  The play concerns the plights of indigenous peoples in preserving their sacred spaces and environment in the face of unchecked development.

Professor MCM Santamaria has a Doctor of Law in Political Science at the Kyoto University, Japan. His research interests include Performance Studies, Politics, Japan and Southeast Asia, and Sama-Bajau studies. He teaches several graduate courses at the UP Asian Center that cover Japanese Culture and Society, Philippine Artistic Expressions, Southeast Asian Culture and Society, and Theater and Society in East Asia, among others. View his faculty profile.

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