Media celebrity G Töngi, newly appointed Artistic Director of Upstart Productions, spearheads Upstart Soundstage, a series of bi-weekly dramatic readings at Century City Mall at 7:00 pm on Sunday, June 15, 2014. Upstart Soundstage will present a different full-length drama, comedy, or musical every two weeks, each show featuring well-known theater personalities and stage directors. No props, no sets, no costumes—just pure performance.
“Readings like this are very popular in L.A and New York,” declares Töngi, who has timed her birthday celebration to coincide with the first play in the series. “We want to do the same thing over here.” To that end, Upstart has lined up an impressive array of actors for the project: noted stage and screen personalities Cherie Gil, Iza Calzado, Audie Gemora, Noel Trinidad (one of Upstart’s board members), and Töngi herself, along with renowned directors like Anton Juan, Jaime del Mundo, and Bobby Garcia.
But will Manila audiences take to the concept of stage shows without any staging? Apparently, they already have: Töngi and her partners have conducted quite a few informal readings of this type, and they’ve all been very well-received. Upstart founder Joel Trinidad, Noel’s son, is not at all surprised. “I’ve always loved dramatic readings, “ he shares. “When you take away the sounds and lights and costumes, you force people to really pay attention.” Upstart Managing Director Onyl Torres, who doubles as the company’s Musical Director and Composer, likens the medium to a radio play. “You get the same emotions, the same human drama,” he says. “It’s very powerful.” Töngi concurs: “In our last few readings, people were in tears—the actors and the audience.”
Upstart Soundstage kicks off with Töngi’s birthday celebration: a reading of Jane Alexander’s The Baby Dance, an emotionally charged drama about a suburban couple adopting the unborn baby of a poor couple. Other proposed shows in the series—which will run continuously, every two weeks, in three-month blocks—include Pippin by Stephen Schwartz, Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet, The Seagull by Anton Chekov, Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Christopher Hampton, and many others. “A different show every two weeks, at a fraction of the cost of a regular show,” notes Töngi. “Where else can you experience that?”
The Dramatic Readings. Starting Sunday, June 15, at 7:00 pm at the event space on the 5th floor of Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati, and playing continuously every other Sunday from then on. Tickets at P350 each, available at the door. Brought to you by Century City Mall and Upstart Productions.