Black Box: What’s inside the newest theater of the CCP complex

A quick tour of the theater, named after its benefactor, Ignacio Gimenez, revealed interiors patterned after conceptually-similar black boxes abroad — barebones yet fully-kitted and customizable stages focusing on the performer-audience connection

The Tanghalang Ignacio B. Gimenez, The Black Box Theater. | PHOTOS COURTESY OF CCP

September 11, 2022

The Cultural Center of the Philippines complex recently inaugurated its newest venue, the Tanghalang Ignacio B. Gimenez, dubbed the ‘Black Box Theater.’

The local performing arts community convened for the event, “Unboxed! The Unboxing of the CCP Black Box Theater,” which unveiled the six-years-in-the-making edifice to the general public.

(L-R) Unboxing the new theater with CCP Board of Trustees Chairman Jaime C. Laya, CCP President Margie Moran-Floirendo, benefactor Ignacio B. Gimenez and guest Irene Marcos-Araneta

The program featured the Pitong Alay rites by the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, bearers of living culture and the legacy of artistic traditions. The ritual is said to bring fortification and good luck to the structure.

Applause filled the grounds as the white curtain over the main signage was pulled off by benefactor Ignacio Gimenez and presidential sister Irene Marcos-Araneta, CCP board chairman Dr. Jaime Laya and CCP president Margie Moran-Floirendo.

The Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group performs the Pitong Alay ritual

After a refrain of tributes and performances, Gimenez gave a brief message of giving back to the community, as he himself was an iskolar ng bayan with a passion for the performing arts at the University of the Philippines, under the wing of National Artist for Theater Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero.

What followed was a well-curated presentation by the creative and production team led by Paul Morales with musical direction by Jed Balsamo.

The Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group

More performances were rendered by the UP Symphonic Orchestra and the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde theater arts students, a soliloquy by Gian Magdangal and a jota by Recuerdos, the music of National Artist for Music Lucio San Pedro, with choreography by Rhosam Prudenciano Jr.

Capping the evening was the singing of the “CCP Hymn,” with lyrics by CCP intertextual director Hermie Beltran and National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab.

A quick tour of the theater interiors revealed the venue was patterned after conceptually-similar black boxes abroad — barebones yet fully-kitted and customizable stages focusing on the performer
-audience connection.

Liesl Batucan presents an excerpt from Mabining Mandirigma

Gimenez is a philanthropist and entrepreneur who dreamt of a venue where Filipino thespians and international acts can showcase their talents.

The Black Box Theater is just the first of several new venues to comprise the proposed CCP Performing Arts Theater complex of over 1,000 square meters.

Situated between Magdalena Jalandoni and Vicente Sotto Streets, the Black Box Theater was designed by Leandro V. Locsin Partners. Locsin, a National Artist for Architecture, designed the CCP.

The four-story Black Box Theater has a person-with disabilities-accessible entrance, from its lower ground parking all the way to its various lobbies.

Tenor Arthur Espiritu

Cafes and other concessionaires are found on the ground floor for friends and acquaintances to link up and meet each other.

Its mezzanine is where the magic happens — the main lobby and the theater proper are here, fitted with 358 retractable and stackable seats.

A trap door may also be utilized by performers for dramatic reveals, entrances and exits, or for swift transitions between scenes.

The past winners of Ternocon, a competition and mentoring program centered on the Philippine terno

The LED and conventional lighting fixtures were imported from Electronics Theater Controls in the United States.

Experts from Nagata Acoustics led by Dr. Kosuke Suzuki were consulted. It must be noted that Suzuki was the apprentice of the CCP’s sound designer Leo Beranek in the past.

Not to be outdone, UK-based Midas and Germany’s pride Sennheiser collaborated for the sound system to ensure crystal-clear audio within the four black walls.

Upper floors were built with catwalks and multipurpose halls.

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