Theater als Kritik

The German Theatre Studies Association (Gesselschaft für Theaterwissenschaft) will hold its 16th Congress with the theme: “Theater als Kritik” (Theater as Critique) on 3-6 November 2016. This year’s conference is co-organized by the Department of Applied Theatre Studies at Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, the Institute of Theatre, Film, and Media Studies at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, and the Hessischen Theaterakademie. on 5 November, I will be presenting a paper entitled Counterpoint and / or Harmony? Anti-colonial criticism and political diplomacy in ‘Sandugong Panaguinip’. Here’s a short abstract of my presentation:

In 1902, four years following the US take-over of the Philippines in 1898, the first Filipino opera entitled Sandugong Panaguinip premiered at the Teatro Zorilla in Manila.  Its premiere was celebrated by the American colonial government while successfully eluding the recently implemented US sedition law that prohibited theatrical performances promoting Philippine sovereignty and theatrical performances criticizing US imperialism. In particular, the performance of the Philippine national anthem in the finalé of the opera should have been an indictable crime by the colonial government and it yet evaded censorship. Sandugong Panaguinip was composed by Ladislao Bonus, the bandmaster of the national band of the dissolved first Philippine Republic. The librettist, director, and producer Pedro Paterno was the deposed Prime Minister of the Philippine revolutionary state. A lawyer adept in diplomatic law, Paterno’s libretto advocates for Philippine sovereignty achieved through collaboration with the US government—a musico-theatrical proposal for the Philippine’s search for sovereignty in search for the recognition of other sovereigns. Despite its political stance towards Philippine autonomy, Paterno and his opera remain occluded from modern Philippine nationalist historiography in which he is considered a turncoat and colonial collaborationist. In such a context, how does the object and manner ofcriticism of a theatre piece affect its constitution into a national artistic canon? Looking into the 1902 performance of Sandugong Panaguinip, I examine theatre’s dual role in social criticism and political diplomacy.

If you are in Frankfurt next month, I hope to see you there!