For its 50th season ender, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) brings the Filipino adaptation of Marsha Norman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama ‘Night, Mother on stage. Melvin Lee, who is known for playing Chelsea in PETA’s musical comedy Care Divas, helmed the play and Ian Lomongo adapted the script in Filipino.
Eugene Domingo and veteran stage actress Sherry Lara share the stage for the 90-minute, no-intermission show revolving around their characters, Jessie and Thelma. ‘Night, Mother features a one-act conversation between the two as Jessie tells her mother Thelma her plan to end her life.
You can watch ‘Night, Mother starting on February 2 at the PETA Phinma Theater. And if you’re not intrigued enough or still undecided whether you should check it out or not, here are a few reasons why it’s a must-see:
1. Eugene Domingo is back with her first love — the theater scene.
After a five-year hiatus, award-winning TV and movie actress Eugene Domingo is returning to the theater scene to play the role of Jessie, a divorced woman suffering from epilepsy who tells her mother of her plan to commit suicide. Domingo last starred on stage for “Bona” in 2012, another PETA production and adaptation of Lino Brocka’s 1980 classic film.
Domingo, who studied Theater Arts at the University of the Philippines and was honed to be an actress under the university’s theater company Dulaang UP, said that performing on stage has always been her first love. She thanked PETA production for giving her the opportunity to go back on stage and claimed that she loves the stage more than doing films.
“Nagpapasalamat ako na nabigyan ulit ako ng pagkakataon na bumalik sa aking first love bilang artista. Maraming salamat po sa pagkakataon na ibinigay ninyo sa akin na makapagtanghal ulit… Tatapatin ko na po kayo, mas mahal ko talaga itong entablado.”
2. It is an overall masterpiece for its story, and the actors’ performances.
‘Night, Mother presents an intimate, emotionally complex, and thought-provoking storyline that tackles certain issues that are still considered taboo like mental health, family dysfunction, depression, and suicide. The adapted story also mentions socio-political topics that are relevant and timely for Filipinos like Martial Law and EJK.
Domingo and Lara’s stellar acting will move you to tears and have you on the edge of your seats on certain scenes. Both actress embodied the complexity of their characters and portrayed them befitting to what the scene demands.
The intensity of their scenes can shake the audience’s emotions along with the sensitive topics and dark humor injected in the story. The two perfectly represented the Filipino mother-daughter relationship and the underlying issues in a Filipino family as their characters discuss sensitive topics.
3. It is adapted from an award-winning piece.
Written by one of America’s most talented playwrights, ‘Night, Mother won the Dramatists Guild’s prestigious Hull-Warriner Award, four Tony nominations, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and a Pulitzer Prize in 1983.
One of the challenges in adapting ‘Night, Mother, a foreign material set in the 1980’s, was to contemporize it and put it in the 2017 period. Ian Lomongo had to contextually translate it in Filipino and input Filipino culture and values in the story.
4. It aims to be a platform for people to discuss sensitive topics such as mental health and suicide.
Mental health and suicide-related talks were at its peak last year as people encouraged others to #KeepGoing during Mental Health Awareness Day. The House of Representatives also approved the proposed Mental Health Act on it final reading last November 20, 2017.
During the press preview of ‘Night, Mother last January 24, PETA invited Dr. Violeta Bautista, Head of UP Diliman’s Clinical Psychology Program and Dr. Randy Dellosa of Life Change Recovery Center, to discuss the psychological aspect of the play.
“Kapag narinig natin ‘yung salitang ‘mental disorder,’ iniisip natin baliw — wala sa sarili. This is an example of a mental condition where the person is suffering — there’s lack of happiness and effectiveness in life — but the ability to think is intact. Ang mental disorder, hindi [necessarily] path ay insanity,” said Dr. Bautista.
Due to the sensitive and thought-provoking topics illustrated in the story, PETA will invite mental health professionals to conduct a debriefing after every show and representatives from helplines for people to consult. PETA hopes this would be a platform to raise awareness and converse about mental health.
5. You’ll feel like a neighbor watching a family in their home.
The fully functioning stage setup will make you feel like a scene cut out from real life. Production Designer Ben Padero said that the director asked for a hyperrealistic stage setup so everything they’ve put on stage actually works — even the wall clock — as the show happens real time.
When asked if there’s a symbolism or meaning behind the stage design, Padero said that he leaves it up to the audience’s interpretation. He said that they want to make the audience feel like they are neighbors watching a family from their home.
6. It shows the reality of depression and how the thought of suicide affects people.
While some people still dismiss depression as “gawa-gawa lang,” ‘Night, Mother shows that depression is a real and serious mental health disorder that is sometimes linked to suicide cases. It affects a person’s emotions, thinking, behavior, and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
According to Dr. Bautista, Jessie falls in the criteria of depression as she shows the following symptoms: lack of positive outlook in life and in herself, doesn’t want to go out, and shows no will to live anymore. She also clarified that not all who commit suicide have mental disorder. “History tells us that there are people who commit suicide for altruistic purposes,” she explained.
Catch ‘Night, Mother at the PETA Phinma Theater, from February 2 to March 18, Friday to Sunday. For more information visit www.petatheater.com/nightmother.