Shadow puppets are on the spotlight in Marc Vincent Cosico's exhibit titled the Carillo: Cart Project, currently on display at the Little Theater lobby of the Cultural Center of the Philippines until October 27.
The exhibit features an ensemble of mobile wooden stages where different forms of puppetry can be performed, but these stages are not just platforms to the performing art, but are also crafted to be visual art pieces of its own.
History of Local Puppetry
According to Cosico, the carillo's history in the country goes back to the times of our national hero Jose Rizal. There is an account of the young Rizal staging a shadow puppet play he called "Carillo," which originally referred to the small traveling carts he used to transport his cardboard puppets around Calamba. He then used a white cloth and candles to make the puppets come alive with a performance inspired by the Spanish moro-moro repertoire. Since then, the next generation of puppeteers in the country made carillo the local term to puppetry.
The Man Behind the Carillos
Asked how Cosico got into shadow puppetry, he recounted his childhood watching shows like Sesame Street and The Muppets Show. He also shared his time studying at the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA) during the early '90s when black outs were rampant. After classes were done, they would be at their dormitories with nothing else to do but play with shadows using their flashlights. Their teachers gave notice to this and decided to make it part of their curriculum. From then on, they were able to perform their shadow plays in numerous places.
Today, Marc Vincent Cosico is a member of the Anino Shadowplay Collective and is a teacher at the PHSA where he teaches the art of puppetry, from making the puppets to breathing life into them. In fact, his students collectively known as the Aninong Makiling, are the ones performing on the stages that he has built.
Puppetry in Mobility
Since the word carillo originally referred to small carts, in this piece Cosico used an iconic cart close to the hearts of Filipinos: the local sorbetes cart. Adding a movable horse-head to the ice cream cart, the Sorbetes Fusion has also become a representation of the kalesa.
Another Filipino icon, the jeepney is depicted in Cosico's Biyaheng Makiling cart with the motifs of clouds, cherubs, and the anting-anting. It is a stage for a colorful lineup of 3D puppets, which Cosico was proud to attribute to his students along with their performance of a jeepney driver's journey.
Marc Cosico's Aninong Makiling Booth pays homage to the Caracoa, the outrigger warships once used by native Filipinos, specifically the Kapampangans and Visayans. Meanwhile, the Rolling Playset captures the roots of puppetry, which is derived from the Latin word pupa meaning "doll."
Filled with toys and dolls, the Rolling Playset is a stage that kids can use freely with their imagination. According to Cosico, when the children play with the pieces, creating characters and stories of their own, it is just like a form of one-person puppetry.
On October 9, Marc Cosico will be giving a lecture on shadow puppetry at the MKP Hall in CCP, accompanied by a performance from his students, the Aninong Makiling. This will also be streamed at Arts Online: CCP Lecture Series.
Cosico and his students will also be using the carillos soon to perform their puppetry as a form of outreach activity.
Catch Marc Vincent Cosico's creations now on display at the Little Theater lobby in the CCP building. Exhibit viewing hours are from Tuesday to Sunday, 10AM until 6PM, extended until 10PM when there are evening performances at the CCP Main Theater.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines is located at Roxas Blvd. cor. Pablo Ocampo Sr. St., CCP Complex, Pasay, Metro Manila.