FTG’s 90th anniversary marks comeback at the FEU Main Auditorium

FEU Advocate
March 18, 2024 05:12

Far Eastern University (FEU) Theater Guild (FTG) celebrated its 90th year in the FEU Auditorium last March 15, departing from the usual venue at the FEU Center for the Arts Studio. Fresh off a two-month run of its production of Liza Magtoto’s Agnoia, the guild concluded Nobenta, a concert that celebrated their 90-year legacy.

Previous productions, such as Agnoia, Aswang, and Tamdula VI, were traditionally hosted in the FEU Center for the Arts Studio located in the Engineering Building. However, the 90th concert marked a departure from this tradition, choosing to return to the grandeur of the FEU Main Auditorium. The last FTG production to grace its stage was The Dreamweavers back in 2019.

FTG’s illustrious journey began in 1934 under the direction of Sarah “Lola Sarah” Joaquin. 

Their inaugural production, ‘Call Me Mike,' marked the inception of a long history of stage plays and productions for the guild. Since then, it has evolved to become an esteemed institution within the cultural and artistic fabric of the University. 

The Nobenta concert featured compelling performances from both FTG members and alumni, including former Drag Race Philippines Season One contestant, Brigiding. 

Over the years different generations of Tamaraw theater heads, with the likes of Jesus Singh III, Kat Galang, Vaughn Piczon, and Yesh Burce, have left their legacy and continued the guild’s spirit of artistry. 

This demonstration showcases the guild’s dedication and drive as the University’s official student organization for theater and arts.

A colorful history

n an interview with FEU Advocate, FTG Artistic Head Rafael Pascua reflected on the organization’s transformation, noting its growing community and influence both within and beyond the University.

Siguro lumaki nang lumaki ‘yung family ng FEU Theater Guild. Tapos, it began to be recognized by people, ‘di lang sa loob ng FEU (Perhaps the FEU Theater Guild family grew and grew. It began to be recognized by people, not only those in FEU),” he shared.

Despite the absence of a dedicated theater program in the University, FTG takes pride in its commitment to the art and in showcasing drama's artistry to the FEU community.

Nakatutulong siya kasi the students, kaunti lang din ‘yung exposure nila sa art na ino-offer ng FEU. We are here para ibigay sa inyo ‘yung theater, nilalapit namin sa inyo (It helps the students because they only have little exposure to the art offered by FEU. We are here to bring theater to you, we’re bringing it closer to you),” Pascua shared.

Face masks off and costumes on

FTG temporarily suspended their productions during the COVID-19 Pandemic, halting their chances to showcase their talent and art. 

The organization gradually resumed its programming as face-to-face classes resumed, reverting to two shows per academic year compared to the pre-pandemic standard of two productions per semester. 

As the curtains lifted once again, Pascua shared that this year made an effort to return to the old system of the guild.

“Before kasi, ang ginagawa namin, dalawang productions per sem. Triny namin ulit, so bale parang limang ‘yung nangyayari, Tamdula VI, Aswang, Agnoia, 90th, tapos isa pang Tamdula. Siguro slowly, bumalik din kami sa old ways namin (We did two productions per semester before. We tried it again, so around five productions are happening, Tamdula VI, Aswang, Agnoia, 90th, and one more Tamdula. Perhaps we are returning to our old ways),” he said.

As FTG ramps up its productions, the FEU community can anticipate a surge of musicals and plays gracing its stages. 

Among these eagerly awaited productions was the Nobenta concert to celebrate the organization's 90th anniversary.

“You’ll expect more productions. Tapos much bigger, siguro. Marami kaming offers na pinagplaplanuhan ngayon … Syempre celebration ng 90th year namin, meron kaming concert sa auditorium for free (You’ll expect more productions. And much bigger, perhaps. We are planning numerous offers now. Of course, for the celebration of our 90th year, we will also have a concert in the auditorium for free),” Pascua shared.

Behind the curtain call

A theater production involves more than just its actors. The often-overlooked yet critical contributions of the backstage crew members are the backbone of the production.

These members of the organization are responsible for the magic behind the scenes, which translates to visually stunning stages and features.

The water spectacle and high-rise stage from their latest production, Agonia, the bamboo stage from Ang Unang Aswang, and the stage utilizing cardboard boxes from Tamdula VI all brought visual magic made possible by the backstage crew.

Pascua, who started his journey in FTG as a sound designer, emphasized the role of behind-the-scenes crew in ensuring the success of a performance.

“‘Di lang naman kasi actors ‘yung stars ng show. Actually, mas binibigyan namin ng prestige ‘yung mga tao from backstage kasi walang show kung walang tao nagtatrabaho din behind the curtains (The actors are not the only stars of the show. Actually, we give more prestige to the people backstage because there is no show if there are no people working behind the curtains),” he elaborated.

FTG has established itself as a true force to be reckoned with when it comes to stage plays and creativity. With newer generations of Tamaraws joining the prestigious guild, there will definitely be more productions, stories, and years to come. Happy 90th anniversary, FEU Theater Guild.

-Shayra Ayah S. Laja and Angelo Copon

(Photos by Krystoffer Zyanel Bermudez/FEU Advocate)