We can imprison the body. Can we imprison the mind?
Just got back from watching "Anatomy of an Octopus Woman" at the Baguio Women's Jail Dormitory, I want to give a shout out to my friend, the director and one of the performers Angelo Aurelio. Thanks for inviting me, I was speechless enough to find myself writing this.
I now understand what "tour de force" means. "Anatomy of an Octopus Woman" is a tour de force- "an impressive and successful performance that has been accomplished or Managed with great skill"
It has played with the mundane and the monstrous in a masterful way. There were times that we laughed, we were curious and confounded, and that we found ourselves moved to the verge of tears. (a consensus as I came with six others) When the normal becomes outright funny or what is normal becomes ugly - too ugly, or when what seems mad becomes understandable and ultimately justified.
That effect is magnified by the fact that almost all the performers are inmates and the overarching story does not stray far away from their lives inside the jail.
Warning! Some spoilers might follow below.
This does not mean that the play is all about the women inside the prison and why they are there. It is also about how we view them and how we, the ones outside, imprison ourselves.
Kudos is also due to tanghalang SLU as they too performed with the women and portrayed a picture perfect Promethean scene. This is what I like to see more often from Tanghalan. I have grown tired of the annual remake of old tales(usually romance) from the said group that although presented with the usual stunning choreography, costume etc, IMO lack an engaging and stimulating story and meaningful message.(that's a prison break)
Maybe art is also our way out.
Congrats again to direct Angelo Aurelio, to Tanghalan, and most especially to the guards and the women of BWJD who not only treated us hospitably, served us bread and brewed coffee but freed our minds of their own little prisons.
Written and Directed by Angelo AurelioProduced by Hiromi Meguro
Costumes and Set by Tara LalaineNatividad
Additional Text by Baguio Women's Jail Residents
In cooperation with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology
Baguio City Chapter
Under the Wardenship of S/INSP April Rose Ayangwa
in partnership with Ms. Nonnette C. Bennett of the Bishop Carlito Cenzon Foundation