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Behind the Curtain: Mapúa Tekno Teatro

Article by: Crismhil S. Anselmo, Kandhalvi M. Asaali, and Robert Kobe T. Garcia

Graphics by: Ma. Alyssa Therese S. Manalang

Throughout the centuries, art has cemented its significance in society. As a vessel for self-expression and a means to unleash creativity, it has proven itself to be the core of our humanity in all its forms and ways.

In celebration of this year’s United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization – International Theatre Institute (UNESCO – ITI) World Theatre Day, The New Builder features a haven of Cardinals with an inclination towards the performing arts – the Mapúa Tekno Teatro, or MT2, the University’s official theatre group.

Act I: The Grand Opening

Founded in 2000, MT2 aims to assemble and solidify the theatrical and dramatical skills of Mapúans through various exhibitions of plays and writing. It was inaugurated as an institutional organization under the Mapúa Center for Cultural Development in 2001. Since then, the organization has excelled in producing outstanding actors and actresses from its early years.

In an interview with Luis Cross M. Baylon, the External Vice President (EVP) of MT2, he shared that the organization’s goal is to “showcase and give light to the artistic side of […] Mapúans.

He elaborated that although they are a theatrical organization, they still retain the fundamentals of being a Mapúan. “Dito kasi sa Mapúa Tekno Teatro, binibigyan din namin ng halaga ‘yung academics ng bawat member namin. […] [MT2’s] goal is to enable Mapúans to showcase [their] love for the arts and theatre [all] while being prestigious Mapúan students at the same time,” the theatre artist stated.

For now, the red and gold ensemble remains in the early, exploratory phase of discovery in its new stage in the digital realm. The pivoting to the virtual setup has required the group to establish a foundation for film, media, and platforms largely unfamiliar to them. Thus, the MT2 currently aims to hone its members’ crafts and skills in the online structure of theatre arts.

Act II: The show must go on

The shift from face-to-face learning to an online setup amid pandemic was difficult – especially for a theatrical organization, like the MT2, which often requires audiovisual rooms for their plays.

The pandemic has prodded MT2 to discover their potential to craft theatric arts in digital form. The Cardinals have proven their creativity and resilience at a time of global health crisis once again as the organization explored many current tools that allow artists to imagine new ways to engage with the idea of live-ness and community through the online landscape.

Since then, the theatre group has been decentralizing their focus from the onset stage production of theatre art and smoothly adapting to the new normal. Communications among organization members, and even rehearsals, are now done through their own Discord server. “Last year, if I were to criticize [the] technical aspects of our play, medyo hindi pa ako satisfied. I think that we can still improve it in terms of technicalities, in terms of the smoothness, and the quality of plays that we produce online,” Baylon commented.

Final Act: The Curtain Call

Among MT2’s agenda pre-pandemic was the growth of the organization. With the start of the lockdown last 2020, all the organization’s plans were halted. However, after a year of adapting, they recouped themselves and started holding their annual audition for theatre enthusiasts. Baylon shared that when looking for organization members, they seek for vigor and a passion towards the arts.

MT2 is looking forward to holding its renowned DramaFest again this year after a long two-year hiatus by opening a call for submission entries for new plays. The EVP explained that the DramaFest is a friendly stage-play competition within their organization which divides members into groups with a director, production and stage managers, actors and actresses, and even playwrights. Additionally, the group plans to recruit new members late this year.

Among a sea of science and logic cultivated in one of the Philippines’ premiere engineering institutions, it goes without saying that MT2 is a haven for Mapúan theatre enthusiasts. While it is important to pursue knowledge in science, it is also equally important to chase after the arts with the same vigor. For Baylon, “[Art] reminds us that we are alive, we can appreciate what we can produce with our own hands kahit na we’re students behind the curtains.” He added that in MT2, theatre helps bring people together as an “ensemble” which he attributes to be one of the most important values to learn.

As a parting message, Baylon calls on fellow Mapúans with an affinity to the arts to join MT2. “If you have a passion for acting, for theatre… MT2 is the right place for you… if you’re really passionate, if you yearn to act, kahit na nasa online setup, Mapúa Tekno Teatro will still help you keep that fire ablaze,” he remarked.

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