13th of September: The Philippines’ official entry to 9th Festival international de Théâtre de Mont-Laurier at Quebec, Canada

by - July 05, 2019

Any play can, practically, be “based on true story” but “The Insanity of Mary Girard” is one of the few that took real-life events into a haunting and highly theatrical piece. Mary Girard (1758–1815) was committed to an asylum in 1790 where her husband declared her legally insane. During her confinement, she gave birth to a baby girl – unsure who the father was – who died five months later. After residing in the insanity ward for 25 years, she was laid to rest somewhere on hospital grounds, her grave unmarked.

Be Our Guest Theatricals’ “13th of September” is a reimagination of Lanie Robertson’s “The Insanity of Mary Girard” chosen to represent the Philippines and be a part of the 9th Festival international de Théâtre de Mont-Laurier at Quebec, Canada on 5 – 11 September 2019. Only 25 companies from over 20 countries are selected to join and present their plays during the said biennial theater festival. The Philippines is the only country from Southeast Asia who was selected to join the festival since its launch in 2003.

Be Our Guest Theatricals is a team of professional theater and film practitioners based in Manila, Philippines. The group’s major goal is to create and produce shows for different international theater festivals and this year, a door was opened to them to start achieving it. They want to boost the presence of the Philippine theater in the international realm and at the same time, bring home and share their learnings to Filipino professional and school-based theater companies.


Sunday Evening, Mary Girard is preparing for her last performance in Pennsylvania Asylum. Now, 56, her age is visible after more than two decades re-living the moments of her life inside the asylum. While doing her daily routine and preparation with other patients, her past is dawning inside her, the memories of her mother, husband and her dear daughter are right in front of her and it seem like she’s “sane” once again. As for her last night with the tranquilizing chair, she will fight and re-live the moments of lies and betrayal that has never been proven.


After the launch of one of his notable pieces, “Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog” with Tanghalang Pilipino, Eljay Castro Deldoc makes his debut in the international scene with “13th of September” together with his dramaturg, Drew Espenocilla. In this piece, they illustrate the “present-time Mary Girards” as victims of a harsh society whose leaders are oblivious to the horrendous truth – that the Philippines is living within a culture that emphasizes resilience and humor amid suffering and pain making it difficult to talk about mental illness where you have no other choice but to be strong – both mentally and emotionally. They regard that, as people, we put so much importance in being able to roll with the punches, almost to the point that it’s a requisite to master how to laugh in the face of misfortune. This is why, despite the growing call to recognize mental health as a legitimate public health concern, initiatives to resolve this remain limited.

Eljay has been a part of The Virgin Labfest for six consecutive years since 2013. His most notable plays are first staged in this festival: “Owel”, “Ang Goldfish ni Prof. Dimaandal”, “Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala”, and the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award-winning “Pilipinas Kong Mahal With All the Overcoat”.  In 2016, “Si Maria Isabella…” was mounted by Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco, California. Recently, he ventured in producing teleplays as a part-time writer for GMA 7. He’s part of the writing team of “Juan Tamad”, “Naku Boss Ko”, “Conan My Beautician”, and “I Heart Davao”.


Director Riki Benedicto has headed several productions with Tanghalang Pilipino, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Virgin Labfest and Dulaang Filipino. True to BOGT’s primary objective, he has been consistently elevating the presence of Philippine theater globally with his directorial works in Dulaang Filipino’s Out at Sea (7th Montreal International Theatre festival) and Oedipus (7th Festival international de Théâtre de Mont-Laurier). The latter was awarded Best International Performance and special Jury prize in Teatralny Koufar in Belarus, SETKANI/ENCOUNTER International Theater Festival’s SWAG Award in Brno Czech Republic and Best International Performance in Escenamateur Spain. Solomon also won as Best International Performance in Escenamateur Spain.

He received Best Director for a Musical and Best director for non-musical Nominations from ALIW awards in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Riki is, once again, putting forward another universal concern in Eljay Castro Deldoc’s “13th of September” where he aspires to “challenge society’s restrictive definition of sanity, gender and sexuality or even your perception of truth - truth is relative.”

The Manila run of “13th of SEPTEMBER” will be from August 31 to September 1, 2019 (4pm and 8pm) at Zobel De Ayala Recital Hall, Maybank Performing Arts Theater. Proceeds of these fundraising shows will go to the actors' and production staff's travel expenses to the 9th Festival international de Théâtre de Mont-Laurier in Quebec, Canada on 5-11 September 2019 where they will be performing as the country's official delegation.

Tickets are available at www.ticketworld.com.ph.

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