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Manila Notes, the Filipino adaptation of Tokyo Notes, is a celebration of form. In fact playwright and director Oriza Hirata has structured a play with such clarity of purpose that it almost teaches you how to read it.

People come, linger, go, and come back again to a museum lobby sometime in 2034. While set in the future, their conversations remain similar-sounding to ours — confused, mundane, painfully boring. The drama moves in waves of silence and cacophony. Like insatiable eavesdroppers, the audience can only pick up bits of information that feed as they incite curiosity.

Somehow the show reinforces the idea that our instinct for storytelling marks our capacity to care. Every day we pass by strangers. Yet once we stop and listen, we're involved. With a few words or slight gesture, we imagine whole lives worthy of attention.


In a way that an amateur pianist can be impatient with "playing" the rests in a musical score, the recurring, often long pauses in Manila Notes

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