Friday, February 1, 2013
THEATER ACTORS GUILD EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER COURT DECISION ON CARLOS CELDRAN
He was sentenced to a year and two months in jail. Carlos was found guilty of violating Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code which penalizes offending religious feelings. The law has been in the books since 1930.
Theater is not just an edifice. Theater is any available space where people are gathered and can turn into an audience.
Theater is not just act, sing and dance . Good theater questions social norms and values. Good theater presents to us a reflection of our existence and makes us look into ourselves.
Carlos Celdran, tour guide cum performance artist, did just that. Donning a turn-of-the-century outfit, complete with bowler hat a la Rizal, holding up a cardboard where the word DAMASO was written, Celdran performed before the bishops and the clergy --- his target audience.
What is wrong with that?
Everything, it seems for the bishops and the court. For his performance, Celdran may serve time in jail for “hurting the feelings” of his audience, the CBCP.
The Philippine Theater Actors Guild is concerned over this development. As an organization of theater artists and practitioners, we feel the chilling effect of the court’s decision to jail Mr Celdran. It reminds us of the Juan Matapang Cruz and Aurelio Tolentino’s time when theater practitioners were incarcerated for even just displaying the Philippine flag onstage. Or when theatrical performances tackling the plight of the peasant and the workers were deemed subversive and stopped by the military .
It reminds us of the time when powers that be dictate the kind of performances that can be shown; when going against the grain imposed by the status quo subverts the delusion of the true, good and beautiful; when freedom and democracy were ideals artists before us fought , even died for.We no longer live in those times. Or do we?
Freedom of expression is guaranteed in the 1987 Constitution, militantly fought for by National Artist Lino Brocka. This is the basis for our collective indignation.
Not all of us in TAG agree with Mr Celdran’s views and advocacy. In the same manner that not all members of TAG are Catholic. But we share his right to express himself in ways he deem effective and creative. To punish him for a performance is to warn all artists that all we can do are those that sit well with the Catholic Church lest we hurt their religious feelings.
If we heed the warnings and succumb to the threats, we cease to do our role in society. We will be robbed of our existence. We will just be court jesters trying to please the king and the bishops. We cease to be artists.
FREEDOM FOR CARLOS CELDRAN! FREEDOM FOR ALL ARTISTS JAILED FOR THEIR BELIEFS! FREEDOM FOR ALL PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE.
KALILA AGUILOS, President
JOEL SARACHO, Vice President