Tanghalang Ateneo, the longest-running theater company of the Loyola Schools of the Ateneo de Manila University, opens its 39th Season—“Performing Change”— with Guelan Varela-Luarca’s adaptation of Edgar Calabia Samar’s award-winning “Si Janus Silang at ang Labanang Manananggal-Mambabarang.”
The Janus Silang series is critically acclaimed with the first book, “Si Janus Silang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon,” winning the 2016 National Book Awards’ Juan C. Laya Prize for Best Novel in a Philippine Language and the 2016 National Children’s Book Award for Best Read for Kids.
The second book, Si Janus Silang at ang Labanang Manananggal-Mambabarang, also won the 2017 National Book Awards’ Best Novel in Filipino early this year.
Aside from adapting the book into a play, two-time Palanca First Prize winner Guelan Varela-Luarca is also tasked to bring it to life at the Ateneo de Manila’s Black Box Theater. Theater veterans Jenny Jamora, Carlo Vergara, Renante Bustamante, and Xander Soriano act alongside Tanghalang Ateneo’s promising stable of actors.
Si Janus Silang at ang Labanang Mananaggal-Mambabarang follows the titular character, Janus Silang, as he continues his search for Tala to defeat the threat of the Tiyanak to humanity.
Revisiting old friends and getting to know new ones, Janus dives further into the realm of the unknown through the mysterious ability of the twins Miro and Mira who can traverse from the human plane Daigdig to the supernatural plane Kalibutan.
As his allies grow, so too do Janus’ foes as both enemies old and new appear from both his and his caretakers’ pasts. Facing danger on both planes, time is running out for him to truly understand his role in putting a stop to the Tiyanak’s reign.
Tanghalang Ateneo’s Earvin Estioco returns to play the title role of Janus Silang, a teenager who unravels his hidden destiny amidst the death of his parents and the dangers of both the past and the future.
Carlo Vergara, meanwhile, alternates with Renante Bustamante as Mang Joey, a bagani (protector of the Pusong bloodline) who becomes Janus’ protective yet doubtful mentor.
Jenny Jamora alternates with Bina Basilio, as Manananggal, a being whose motives and history intertwine not just with Janus’ but with his caretakers’ as well.
Also included in the cast are Xander Soriano as Mang Isyo, Mang Joey’s brother who must decide to either face or evade the demons of his past; Jacob Whittaker and Quiel Quiwa alternately play Renzo, Janus’ closest companion in facing the dangers surrounding his destiny; AJ Umali and MJ Vitug as Mira, a bagani with the ability to travel from the mortal plane Daigdig to the supernatural plane Kalibutan; and Shawn Landayan and Lucas Abaya as Miro, Mira’s twin brother who has yet to discover his own part to play in the coming war.
Si Janus Silang at ang Labanang Manananggal-Mambabarang will be running until October 21. Performances start at 7:30 p.m. while Saturday matinee shows start at 2:30 p.m. Ateneo de Manila’s Black Box Theater is located at the university’s Fine Arts Annex Building.