After 'Rak of Aegis,' PETA gears up for advocacy play on AIDS

Totel V. de Jesus

Posted at Sep 30 2019 06:25 PM | Updated as of Sep 30 2019 07:58 PM

MANILA -- Marking its 449th performance on Sunday night, the Philippine Educational Theater Association's (PETA) massive hit "Rak of Aegis" takes another rest, for now.

As part of PETA's 52nd theater season, Rodolfo Vera's "Under My Skin" will be the next production, tentatively scheduled in February 2020.

“Support all Philippine theater kasi people really work hard. Wala pong suporta ang teyatro sa Pilipinas," Maribel Legarda, PETA's artistic director and "Rak of Aegis" director said during the curtain call of its closing show on Sunday to end the musical's seventh season.

"Without our audiences, we really won’t survive. So if you enjoyed 'Rak,' I hope you find the time to come to the next PETA play,” Legarda added though not mentioning the title and other details of the next production.

ABS-CBN News learned from Vera that "Under My Skin" is an advocacy play to be directed by PETA senior member Melvin Lee. The auditions were held a few days ago. As of posting, there's no official announcement yet who passed the screening.

"This is a straight play, not a musical. Multiple stories of people, reactions, and so on, threaded by a doctor who explains the medical nature and social effects of the virus," Vera said in an online interview Monday.

He added there are about 12 cast members playing multiple roles.

"Maraming kuwento. Pero it’s more like an informative play on HIV. What it is, condition dito sa atin, how it affects lives," Vera added.

Vera shared that Sugid Productions asked him to write a play about HIV/AIDS in mid-2017 but the project didn't push through. Sugid is known for producing Chris Millado's "Buwan at Baril in E Flat Major" in January 2017 when it was re-staged at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City.

"It didn't happen so I asked PETA if they are interested," he said.

Last year, it was staged in the annual Laboratory Theater Festival in PETA, a three-day open-to-the-public mini-laboratory festival being staged by PETA members for the past five years.

"So after that, nasama na sa PETA theater season ang 'Under My Skin," he added.

We asked him if the play is somehow inspired by a popular song covered by Frank Sinatra.

"The same as the title of the Cole Porter song. But it doesn’t figure in the play. Title lang. What I recalled in the '90s is I got a CD called 'Red Hot and Blue' and it has covers of Cole Porter songs. One of those is 'I've Got You Under My Skin' performed by Neneh Cherry."

When Vera started writing the play, the Department of Health's data revealed an average of 28 new HIV/AIDS cases per day in the Philippines. The quarterly DOH report revealed that in April 2019, the number has increased to 36.