Ampalaya Monologues is an episodic play that features a collection of short monologues about love, heartache and bitterness. It tells the real stories of individuals who have tasted the different kinds of bitterness that love has to offer. Written and directed by Mark Ghosn and performed by different monologists, it was inspired by another episodic play Vagina Monologues. The play has been featured in different TV shows, websites and news channels. It had sold-out shows in the country’s prime venues such as The PETA Theater and The Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Today, Ampalaya Monologues has been recreated into different versions. What started as 5, has evolved into more than 50 monologues, 27 of which has been published nationwide as a book. With sold-out shows, viral videos, news features, television and out-of-town appearances, and an upcoming nationwide full-length movie, Ampalaya Monologues is now known as one of the most successful episodic plays in the country.
ORIGINAL PRODUCTION (Team Ampalaya)
The original production is now referred to as Team Ampalaya and featured 15 monologues based on real stories of different individuals that Ghosn has encountered. The show has a host and starts with performances by independent musical acts, guest spoken word artists and open mic participants. During the show, a live art exhibit simultaneously happens in a dedicated space in the venue. (See full list of Ampalaya Monologues hosts, musical acts, and guest spoken word artists).
After the opening acts, different actors perform the monologues. It starts with the most bitter monologue entitled “There’s a Basha in All of Us”, which tells the story of a girl who was dumped by her boyfriend for her best friend. The monologue sets the bar for the bitter stories that follows, from the funny pieces about break-ups caused by third parties and the struggle of single hood, to the more serious ones that tackle domestic violence, femme phobia and mental health. It then ends on a positive tone with the final piece entitled “Panata ng Pusong Bagong Laya” that talks about the joy of finally moving on from a failed relationship. (See full list of monologues included in Team Ampalaya)
In 2011, as the Artistic Director of Theatre in Alternative Platforms (TAP), Mark Ghosn had to come-up with a play that will require minimal production cost, which meant that the set and other technical aspects of the show would have low to no budget at all. Having been a fan of Vagina Monologues, Mark got inspired from it to create a collection of monologues, but instead of women empowerment, the play was meant to empower those who are going through heartache and bitterness.
Having not been in an official relationship, Ghosn struggled to write about love that is beyond his personal experiences, this prompted him to ask the actors to write their own monologues. The plan eventually did not work due to lack of writing experiences from the actors and the non-cohesive tone that it created. Another original concept was for the play to be staged as a traditional play and to have an “anti-bitter machine” that is supposed to save people from their misery. In 2012, the production for Ampalaya Monologues was shelved and TAP went on hiatus.
In 2015, as part of TAP’s revival, Ghosn proposed Ampalaya Monologues again, this time he wrote stories that are more realistic and relatable by using his personal experience of being the go-to person amongst his friends when it comes to relationship advice. They also decided to strip off the props and traditional play set-up and change the venue to an actual bar where people can drink beer while watching the heartbreaking performances. They also invited spoken word artists and indie musicians to serve as the show’s opening acts, added an open mic segment for volunteer performers, and provided a space for live arts exhibit. The concept was later known as a showcase of different “artistic bitterness”, it was proven to be successful and served as a template for the play’s entire run.
An annual Christmas special that features a collection of monologues related to love, heartache and bitterness during the holiday season. (See full list of monologues included in Single Bells)
A Pride Month special featuring a collection of monologues that highlight the stories of different LGBTQ++ individuals. (See full list of monologues included in Love Wins)
A show that features a combination of monologues with happy and sad endings. (See full list of monologues included in BitterSweet)
Two is Bitter Than One
Also known as Ampalaya Dialogues, the show features a collection of 6 one-act plays with two main characters on each. (See full list of one-act plays included in Two is Bitter Than One)
A show that features a collection of monologues about real love stories that are related to different social issues. (See full list of monologues included in Camp Ampalaya)
The annual anti-valentine tour that features a mini version of the Ampalaya Monologues shows.
Ampalaya Monologues was first staged in front of a full house audience at Bugsy’s Alabang in August 30, 2015 and was received with rave reviews. The show transferred to Splice Mandaluyong in October 15, 2015, where most of its engagements were sold out, including its February 2016 run, which became its most watched show, prompting for a weekly show to be staged in April 2016. Ampalaya Monologues continued to have its run in Splice until the place’s closure on March 18. 2017, making it the first and last show to be staged on the said venue.
The play also filled other venues throughout its run. In June 2016, Ampalaya Monologues had its first tour where they visited the cities of Las Pinas and Cavite and was received with an overwhelming response. It inspired an annual special touring production entitled AMPAIT, which brings the show to different venues and companies during the valentine’s season.
In October 15, 2016, Ampalaya Monologues celebrated its first anniversary with a sold-out show in The PETA Theater, a feat that was repeated in its 2nd anniversary show in October 14, 2017. In April 1, 2017, the play was the most attended event in Performatura Festival that was held in The Cultural Center of the Philippines. The play also sold-out its BGC Arts Festival show in November 15, 2017.
In 2018, Ampalaya Monologues joined Fringe Manila Festival and started a residency in The Green Sun Hotel Makati where its anti-valentine show and season 3 ender show became some of its most attended in its 3-year history.
AUDIENCE REACTION AND VIRAL VIDEOS
The play received rave reviews, with most people calling the experience cathartic and a roller-coaster ride of emotions. The actors were praised for delivering natural performances, as well as their comedic timing and their ability to seamlessly transition their emotions. Ghosn was praised for creating realistic characters, his unpredictable storytelling and none cliché style of writing. Videos of performances also went viral. Here are the list of some Ampalaya Monologues performance videos that went viral:
• Single Bells as performed by Janine Lloce (December 2015)
• Sa Pagitan ng Tayo Ba at Hindi Na as performed by Rain Gutierrez (February 2016)
• Panata ng Pusong Bagong Laya as performed by Mark Ghosn (September 2016)
• Patola 101: An Introduction to the Art of Making Patol as performed by Abe Herma (February 2017)
• Dalawang Kurap as performed by Thalia Nicole (February 2017)
• Hanash ng Soloista as performed by Janine Lloce (February 2018)
NOTABLE FEATURES AND APPEARANCES
The Headstart – CNN Philippines (February 2016)
Reel Time – GMA News TV (February 2016)
i-Witness – GMA (April 2016)
Jessica Soho’s Brigada – GMA News TV (June 2016)
Pambansang Almusal – Net25 (October 2016)
I Love My Culture – PTV4 (October 2016)
2017 New Year’s Countdown – TV5 (January 2017)
Karelasyon – GMA (February 2017)
Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho – GMA (February 2017)
Interview – ABS-CBN (August 2017)
NWSRM5LIVE – TV5 (February 2018)
PRINT AND ONLINE MEDIA
Hydro Manila 2016 – August 2016
LoveYourself.PH – June 2016
Catholic Social Media Awards – December 2016
UP Idea Festival – February 2017
Cebu Literary Festival – September 2017
CCP Performatura Festival – April 2017
SM Independence Day Celebration – April 2017
Sikuna Festival – May 2017
Metro Manila Pride – June 2017
National Bookstore’s Words and Letters – January 2018
Pasinaya Festival – February 2018
Monster RX 93.1 – August 2017
Mellow 94.7 – August 2017
Halo-Halo FM – September 2017
Barangay LS 97.1 – November 2017 / April 2018
Inquirer Radio – April 2018
TEAM-UPS AND SPECIAL PRODUCTIONS
Shell Philippines Love Your Car Campaign – February 2016
Globe Purpose – May 2016
MNLGrowKits Ampalaya Kit Campaign – October 2016
Moonleaf Tea Shop Cuddle Buddy Campaign – November 2016
Ampalaya Party! (Celebrities Performing Ampalaya Monologues) – December 2017
Team Manila X Team Ampalaya – February 2017
Ampalaya Monologues X Words Anonymous
• Barangay Love You (May 2016)
• Love The Way July (July 2016)
• Live in Baguio (February 2017)
The Ampalaya Monologues book was launched in July 2017 and was made available in all major bookstores nationwide under Summit Books. It included a collection of 25 monologues that were performed during its first year run, and 2 monologues exclusively written for the book. The book received positive reviews with most commending its “straight-through-the-heart feels that’s delivered with bald-faced honesty and biting humor.” It had already sold thousands of copies and continues to capture new readers.
In February 2016, Ampalaya Monologues launched its store that features items inspired by the lines in the monologues. The first collection of merchandise included a pillow that has the line ”Tulog Na, Maaga Ka Pa Aasa”, a mug that says “Kape Lang Dapat Ang Bitter”, and chocolates with different hugot-lines on the wrapper. A new collection of Ampalaya Monologues items are currently under production and are set to launch on the third anniversary show (August 2018).
During their second anniversary show, Ampalaya Monologues announced that the film version of the play is in the works under Firestarters Productions. Pre-production started in November 2017 and the script development is ongoing as of May 2018.