Under My Skin is inspired by real people and events, and it accurately depicts the realities, triumphs, and struggles of people living with HIV, while navigating an important conversation about acceptance and tolerance. The show introduces us to a number of characters – Jonathan, Greg, Syd, and Mario whose relationships are tested when Jonathan gets infected; Dino, an HIV-positive teen whose status is discovered through a contraction of tuberculosis; Mary Rose, a mother who unknowingly passed down the virus to her son after getting it from her husband; a gay beauty parlor employee experiencing work-related discrimination, and more. Their stories of love, pain, and acceptance are revealed through Dr. Gemma Almonte, who is studying the spread of the devastating virus.
Two weeks before the closing of Under My Skin at the PETA Theater Center in March 2020, PETA and other theater groups were forced to stop their shows because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the play’s run was cut abruptly because of the lockdown in March 2020, PETA revamps the play from stage to video, in partnership with esteemed HIV-advocacy organizations LoveYourself PH and The Red Whistle, and UNILAB, Inc., PETA’s major co-presenter.
PETA Executive Director Beng Santos-Cabangon says that Under My Skin hopes to continue what it has set out to achieve since its original run in early 2020, providing a space where various HIV-advocacy groups can unite and strengthen their cause, with art and theater at the centerpiece. “We believe that Under My Skin Online can continue to serve as a platform for probing conversations and reflections as well as bringing attention to and engaging the public on the issue of HIV and AIDS. Converting the production into the film medium would allow for more people to see it and bring the advocacy to the spotlight,” says Santos-Cabangon. “Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we should be relentless in our efforts to address the problem of access to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment. It is our hope that this endeavor will contribute to generating greater public awareness and concern, building a caring community, and helping eradicate stigma and discrimination,” she adds.
Now is also the time to generate urgent conversations about HIV and AIDS, especially since there has been a “21% increase in new infection brought about by the decrease in HIV prevention coverage and increase in treatment gap,” according to the 2021 data of the Department of Health. LoveYourself founder and executive director Ronivin Pagtakhan says that as the pandemic continues to evolve, we continue to adapt in the name of HIV advocacy. “LoveYourself has allocated resources to shift our services online including refill for treatment medicines with XPress, self-screening with SelfCare, and setting up regular appointments for health check-ups with Booking as we contribute to ensuring equitable access of HIV-related services for key populations in the country,” says Ronivin. “We are glad to partner once again with the wonderful people at PETA to make Under My Skin accessible online for greater awareness as this initiative amplifies our advocacy’s voice towards ending the HIV epidemic.”
The Red Whistle also continues to respond to the HIV epidemic by addressing the need for a change in mindset. “Theater has the ability to move people to understand the issue more. We need to shift perspectives around HIV-related stigma and change attitudes towards our sexual health,” says The Red Whistle Executive Director Benedict Bernabe. “If we want to change people’s minds, we need to tug on their heartstrings first. This is why the arts is an important and necessary component—especially during this pandemic—not just for awareness and education, but also for behavior change in the HIV advocacy.”
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PETA looks forward to Under My Skin Online reaching a wider audience. The PETA Theater Center has a seating capacity of around 450 people per show, but bringing the play to video enables PETA to tap more audiences who may not have seen the show in its original run. “Based on the reception that we’ve had since the announcement of Under My Skin Online, there’s a good indication that it will be received well,” says director Melvin Lee.
Under My Skin is now reborn for a new platform. Written by Rody Vera and directed by Melvin Lee, the online streaming cast features Cherry Pie Picache, Eko Baquial, Gio Gahol, Mike Liwag, Jarred Jaicten, Kitsi Pagaspas, Dylan Ray Talon, Dudz Teraña, She Maala, Bene Manaois, Erold Enriquez, Jason Barcial, Joseph Madriaga, Rach Gimpes, Reggie Ondevilla, Roy Dahildahil, Gerard Dy, and Ekis Gimenez.
Streaming Dates: November 26 – 28; November 30 – December 5, 2021
Official ticketing and streaming partner: www.ticket2me.net
Ticket Rates: Php 180.00 for Livestream, Php 250.00 for Video on Demand
For tickets: bit.ly/undermyskinonline