July 10, 2015
Toym Imao’s Masterpieces for Mabining Mandirigma
On theater design
I honestly don’t have any experience in theater design. This is my first time to do so. My undergraduate studies was in Architecture at the University of the Philippines. That somehow helped in terms of spatial composition. My background primarily as a visual artist has interests from the classical as inherent in most of my historical public art works to the contemporary as characterized by my most recent works. It borders on fantastical to the whimsical, to heavy socio-political visual commentaries, both in painting and in sculpture.
How did you show steam-powered machinery in your designs? Please share the materials and techniques that you used.
With the limited budget at hand, I needed to be resourceful and de-sophisticate the design. Since steampunk is characterized by a fusion of predominantly art deco turn of the century design with the futuristic twist grounded in early 1900’s industrial revolution aesthetics, I decided to sort of “supersize” one iconic design element of steampunk: the large gears to act as visual metaphors of that era, which encapsulated the entire stage area in a sort of “inside” the machinery clockworks of a timepiece. This made an imposing and foreboding feeling—as if the characters on the set are constantly racing against time, being propelled by the movement of time and history, and being confronted by the larger than life machination of two empires.
Which was the most difficult to create? Why?
At first, coming out with a practical design that would take into consideration existing stage limitations and technical elements that needed to be factored into the design was the first issue to hurdle, but I had great help with the CCP production staff to ground the design into working plans for the stage.
I guess the most difficult element of the set was the Catafalque or the lighted carriage in the last scene of the musical. We had to integrate 40 “flaming” light elements on a rolling chassis which nestled a boat like component inspired by the “Manunggul Jar”—a vessel to the afterlife.
Which one did you most enjoy making?
I enjoyed making the catafalque.
Please tell us also about your first solo exhibit.
The five works (2007-2015) presented here are just a part of this visual exploration of Philippine history using a visual language that the audience can engage with.
These works deal with current socio-political issues in our country such as corruption and power, oligarchies, martial law, the coming elections, national security and sovereignty. Toym plays with the themes of anti-heroes and explores the character and contributions of lesser known historical figures. Or they could be well-known but there are facts and facets of their personalities that have not been highlighted because other figures have traditionally taken center stage. For instance, the brilliance of Bonifacio as a war tactician and of Mabini as an active and moral pillar of the revolution are not often mentioned in history textbooks.
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