Oct 5, 2019

Philippine theater is in mourning.

On Oct. 4, veteran actor and director Tony Mabesa passed away at age 84 after succumbing to a long illness. “Details of the wake will be announced on Oct. 5.”

Once dubbed “Lion of the Theater” because of his vigor and passion for the stage, Mabesa was a pillar of the local theater arts scene. Aside from being a prolific director, he also founded University of the Philippine’s premier performing arts organization Dulaang UP all the way back in 1976. He’s mentored so many other theater icons: Shamaine Centenera Buencamino, Irma Adlawan, Nonie Buencamino, Banaue Miclat-Janssen, among others.

(Adlawan once confessed to a national broadsheet that she got her start in Dulaang UP after Mabesa overheard her mispronounce a word, with him saying, “You want to be an actress and yet you cannot pronounce ‘ceremony’ correctly? See me tomorrow. Audition for my play.”)

“The relationship between a teacher/director and student artist is a delicate one,” Mabesa shared to Inquirer in 2013. “Somehow, one’s role as a mentor of a student can be a most rewarding or a most frustrating one.”

Many of his former “pupils” have paired their respects to the director on social media. “My theater mentor passed away last night, Centenera Buecamino wrote, thanking him “not just for the acting lessons but for inspiring us to be our best in life.”

John Mark Yap, who is part of the team on Dulaang UP’s upcoming play “Fuente Ovejuna,” set to run on Nov. 8., also shared his respects. Mabesa had directed the play.

The Dulaang UP also posted a tribute to Mabesa.

“I’ll always remember w/ fondness the times when you’d let me come with you to Pampanga and sit in your classes there,” tweeted Teetin Villanueva, star of “Rak of Aegis” and Atlantis’ upcoming staging of “Sweeney Todd.”


Featured photo courtesy of Inquirer.net

Get more stories like this by subscribing to our weekly newsletter here.

Read more:

Thoughts shared, souls bared on “Company: A Musical Comedy”

Photographer Hannah Reyes explores fashion waste on “What We Carry”

Experience a multisensory Vincent van Gogh exhibit from Oct. 26 to Dec. 8

TAGS: dulaang up nolisoli.ph philippine theater tony mabesa