‘Here Lies Love’ Pairs Disco With a Dictator. It’s a Controversial Choice.

of The Broadway musical “Here Lies Love” is an immersive production and a hilarious karaoke dance party with an all-Filipino cast for the first time in Broadway history.

It’s a good time—until it isn’t.

At its core is Ferdinand (played by Jose Llana) and the former Philippine president and first lady who committed countless human rights abuses and violent crimes during his 21-year reign from 1965 to 1965. A brutal regime led by Imelda Marcos (Ariel Jacobs). 1986.

David Byrne, who co-wrote the show’s music and lyrics with electronic dance musician Fatboy Slim, said the musical focused on the life of Imelda Marcos, giving audiences a sense of how Filipinos lived. He said he was inserting karaoke as a way to reproduce. Through the Marcos government.

But some argue that telling the story of the corrupt Marcos regime through disco doesn’t work if the audience lacks the necessary context. The production, which opens on July 20, has faced criticism for minimizing the suffering of thousands of Filipinos.

Here’s what you need to know about Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos, the People Power Revolution of 1986, and the controversy the show faced.

Who is Ferdinand Marcos?

Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines’ longest-serving president, was a dictator who put the country under martial law from 1972 to 1981. In 1983, opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. (played by Conrad Ricamora) was assassinated at the airport. return from exile. A commission of inquiry concluded that a military conspiracy was to blame. The assassination sparked a chain of events that culminated in the inauguration of Aquino’s widow, Corazon, as president in 1986.

With Aquino’s election, Marcos fled the Philippines to Hawaii, where he died in 1989 without facing trial in the United States on criminal charges of looting more than $100 million from the Philippine Treasury Department. (However, in the decade that followed, a jury in Hawaii ordered nearly $2 billion in damages against his property for the murder and torture of about 10,000 Filipinos. are difficult to recover from, and despite continued efforts, victims I see only a fraction of that amount. )

Who is Imelda Marcos?

Imelda Marcos, who married Ferdinand in 1954, became the face of the regime’s mega-wealth. A former teenage beauty queen known for her love of nightlife and disco music, she and her family have embraced a lavish lifestyle while millions of Filipinos live in poverty. They raided government coffers to raise funds.

A Philippine court in 2018 convicted her of corruption charges for setting up a private foundation to hide her wealth, but she has appealed and is unlikely to face a prison sentence because of her age. She is 94 now.

What was the People Power Revolution?

The Marcos era ended in February 1986 after a series of non-violent street marches. The People Power Revolution, attended by more than two million Filipinos, denounced the regime’s human rights abuses and electoral fraud. The demonstration ended with the dismissal of Ferdinand Marcos.

Why is this show so controversial?

Many Filipinos objected, claiming the show trivialized Marcos’ crimes and sympathized with Imelda Marcos. Actress Sarah Porcarob recently starred in Broadway’s 1776. wrote in 2017 The musical, which premiered at New York’s Public Theater in 2013 and has since performed at the Seattle Repertory Theater in one of several regional and off-Broadway productions, explores the Philippine national trauma and its consequences. It paints America’s role in it with glossy makeup.” “

These objections are now particularly prominent for many. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected president of the Philippines last year.

Former government attorney Ruben Carranza, who prosecuted Imelda Marcos’ hidden property case, said: “David Byrne’s attempt to humanize Imelda Marcos is an insult to the poor that she and her family stole.” wrote in a recent email. “And being played at a time when Marcos lied back to power, ‘Here Lies Love’ only reinforces that lie, denying the truth, intentionally or not. , would only serve Marcos’ larger agenda of correcting their history’. “

However, some have praised the show’s approach, like Filipino novelist Gina Apostol, who “reflects Filipino complicity and American blindness through an experiment in disco control over the audience.” claims. wrote in 2014 After seeing an Off-Broadway show at the Public Theatre.

How did the producers react?

and Statement issued earlier this year After criticism resurfaced following the Broadway transfer announcement, producers said Here Lies Love is an “anti-Marcos show” aimed at combating disinformation in a “creative way of reinforming.” I wrote. The show also hired Gisele Tonghi, a Filipino-American actress known as G, as a cultural and community liaison.

Why did Broadway musicians oppose the show?

Producers argued that using recorded instrumental tracks instead of live bands was central to their storytelling, but a union representing the musicians said in May that contracts with theaters would include musicians in musicals. He objected, arguing that it was obligatory to appoint In June, they reached a compromise that the musical would feature 12 live musicians.

What does Imelda Marcos say about the show?

In 2010, after listening to a portion of Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s original concept album for the show in a Philippine shopping mall food court during the Philippine congressional campaign, she told New York Times reporter Norimitsu Onishi: Told. It was flattering. can’t believe it! “

The show’s title comes from a three-word phrase she said. She said she wanted her name engraved on her tombstone..

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