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Tanghalang Ateneo (TA) has been delivering triumph after triumph on the dramatic stage, each performance adding to the Loyola Schools of the Ateneo de Manila University’s esteemed line-up of plays. TA is now into its 41st season bearing the theme “Écriture Féminine | Sulat-Babae: The Women’s Season,” and it aptly kicks off with a full-length version of Peter Zaragoza Mayshle’s Dolorosa.

Originally meant as a one-act play, Dolorosa follows a family with a devotion so strong that it ripples through the pages of time. The plays takes place over three different periods in history – the Spanish occupation, World War II, and modern times – and at the center of it all is a lost wooden stature of the Mater Dolorosa. The sculptor’s granddaughter, Pilar, is told in a vision to search for the statue, which is pieced together by Pilar’s three daughters as they await their
mother’s return from America.

Dolorosa went onstage at the Doreen Black Box in the Areté, the interdisciplinary hub of the Ateneo and new home of its Fine Arts Department. Taking the helm was Jenny Jamora, who directed the likes of 33 Variations and Every Brilliant Thing. The play was a very fitting start to ‘Écriture Féminine’, as Dolorosa not only tackles family, nationalism, sexuality, and faith, but the persevering and often misconstrued definition of womanhood, as depicted in history’s pages.

Additionally, the play boasts of a predominantly female cast, led by comedienne and actress Bibeth Orteza at the aged Pilar of the modern times. Fellow film actor Ron Capinding, one of the few males in the cast, plays Mariano, the sculptor of the Mater Dolorosa. Claudia Enriquez doubles as Elena, Mariano’s wife, and Claudia, the oldest of Pilar’s three daughters.

Also playing double roles are Rainbow Gutierrez as Pilar’s mother during the Japanese occupation, and Alicia, Pilar’s middle-child. Zoë de Ocampo, who did the graphic design for the play, doubles as 12-year-old Pilar and Juliana, Pilar’s youngest daughter. Sabrina Basilio doubles as Chedeng and Mitring, from the Spanish and Japanese occupations, respectively, while AJ Umali triples in three male roles – Padre Galiano who sponsored the crafting of the Mater Dolorosa, Pilar’s father Pablo, and the arbularyo Tasyo.

Rounding up the cast are Dani Capinding, Francesca Dela Cruz, Kat Dizon, Kim Donato, andShaun Ocrisma as five different depictions of Mother Mary, and the ensemble comprised of TA members Zarya Almocera, Darl Alba, Nicole Chua, and Mekaella Mendoza.

The artistic team behind Dolorosa comprised of production designers Ben Padero and Carlo Tabije, movement designer Jomelle Era, lighting designer D Cortezano, sound designer Arvy Dimaculangan, photographer Jojit Lorenzo, vocal coaches Robin Aronson and Rachael Swartz, and dramaturg Elise Ofilada who is currently taking up Creative Writing at the Ateneo.

To keep up with TA’s future productions for its 41st season ‘Écriture Féminine’, follow its social media accounts: (Facebook), @TAOfficial_ (Twitter), and @tanghalangateneo (Instagram).

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