Karilyo merged pop culture and biblical narratives in the shadowplay, Tres.
With a tale imbued by government instability, moments of capture, and the attempt of resonating the story of class struggles, the performance collective Karilyo conveyed the depth of fear and inhumanity in an unfamiliar setting while reviving the narrative of Jesus through the art of shadowplay in Tres last November 23 to 24.
Close to the unthinkable loss of humanity, the story of Tres takes place on a futuristic alien planet where a hero is driven by his urgency to save the people from a corrupt social system by a raging spirit of resistance. The artistic production was made in tribute to Karilyo’s late mentor, Don Salubayba, who originally conceptualized the plot. Even though the shadowplay was postponed for two years after their trainer’s passing, the performance collective consistently reworked the concept in order to shed light on social inequalities that prevail in society.
Inspired by the 1973 musical drama film Jesus Christ Superstar, the shadowplay shares similarity with the musical through its creative re-imagining of the biblical story of Jesus. Tres marries fiction and reality, as it combines current events of social injustice to the life of Jesus as the messiah. The play reflects the question “what if Jesus was literally from another planet or dimension?”
The production must be commended for its fresh take on the adaptation of the biblical narratives of Jesus. Karilyo’s interpretation of the main protagonist, Yeshua, has not entirely referred to the divinity of Jesus but to his stories, making the entire production hit close to home. Their interpretation of the human aspects of Jesus made scenes relatable for their audience, including his heartfelt first love experience and the comic and romantic exchanges between the characterization of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Another highlight of the play was the thoughtful framing of the four-walled set design, where the viewers are seated at the middle to see the transition of the scenes from one corner to the other. Although some parts of the play might have confused the audience as two scenes were happening on different walls simultaneously, the seamless flow of the production proved that Tres is beyond just a brilliant merge of theology and creativity but also a reflection of modern culture.
Despite the intertwining of multiple themes, Karilyo rendered a short, impactful message. Through its unique plot and dialogue that appeals to the youth, Tres successfully tapped into the hearts and minds of all viewers and emphasizes that technology should never get in the way of our humanity.
Photos by Patricia Oliveros