PETA workshops: Get out of yourself

Pia Ranada

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PETA summer workshop students learn to get out of themselves and walk in other people's shoes

MORE THAN YOURSELF. Razzi Abella, middle, plays a blind man in the final presentation of the PETA Summer Teen Workshops. Photos courtesy of PETA

MANILA, Philippines – How to get out of oneself is something 15-year-old Angela Caingat learned while taking the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) Summer Teen Theater workshops 2013.

“You’re one person in this world but when you go on stage or in the workshop, you get to show other sides of yourself,” she told Rappler on the day of the workshop’s final presentation last May 5.

“You get to portray another character. You can experience the feelings of other people.”

SUMMER WELL-SPENT. Angela Caingat, a summer workshop student, sits on the steps of the PETA Theater Center moments before her class' performance. Photo by Pia Ranada

Aside from intense emotions, the young workshop participants also experienced intense heat that morning when the auditorium airconditioning system conked out, causing the postponement of the final presentation to later that afternoon.

The workshop moderators and students did what they do best: improvise. They gathered in the rehearsal room and hashed out a game plan.

Improvisation is just one of the acting techniques students learned at the annual PETA workshops running until May 11.  Aside from Teen Workshops (aged 13 to 16), there were classes for children (aged 6 to 8, 9 to 12) and adults (aged 17 and up).

Integration, improvisation

PETA KIDS. The final presentation of the Children's Acting Workshops was held in the morning of May 5. Photo courtesy of PETA

Curriculum director Brenda Fajardo said PETA uses the Integrated Theater Arts approach, a method for teaching acting that dates back to the 1970s.

“You start with games towards something, like you start with poetry or creative writing, then from there it becomes a dramatization,” she explained to Rappler.

Integration is the key word with even music used as raw material for dramatization.

STAND UP. Young workshop students make their parents proud on final presentation day. Photo courtesy of PETA

“You improvise with different sounds and then they’re asked, ‘What emotions can you create with sounds?’ And then from the sounds and emotions, what sort of drama or situation would go with that emotion? The end product is always creative drama.”

But there is no raw material as compelling as the real world and real people. PETA covered this as well with exposure trips where students observed people and how they behave.

Get out there

THIRST GAMES. Teen workshop students interpret 'The Hunger Games' according to the water theme. Photo courtesy of PETA

Thirteen-year-old Razzi Abella visited a slum community near Manila Bay as part of a PETA exposure trip. He told Rappler that the trip even inspired their final presentation where he played the lead character, a blind man.

Asked why he joined the summer workshop, Razzi said, “It’s something new to do for summer instead of sports like baseball, basketball, judo. I wanted to do something else.”

“Something else” is definitely something he got. Like his classmate Angela, the workshop — through the exposure trip — taught him to look beyond himself.

“It meant something to me. I’m the only child in my family. I usually get what I don’t really need.

“When I saw this community and I saw them really happy and they own only sandos and shorts and they only have a really small skateboard as their toy, I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this.’

“They’re really happy with what they have. I was quite embarrassed because I keep asking my parents to buy me things.”

After the interview, Razzi returned to the rehearsal room where the energy was buzzing and students milled around with costumes and props (this writer spotted a bloody white t-shirt with dismembered hands peeking out).

Though the workshops were drawing to an end, the students’ journeys as well-rounded individuals and future thespians had just begun. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.