• Reggie Abang

Bring back the theater, HHE!

As of this column’s writing, the total number of Covid-19 cases in Indonesia has rose to 361,867 (as of October 18, 2020). Despite those said numbers, and the reported negligence of its government in terms of handling the pandemic, JKT48, the Indonesian sister group of AKB48, is still going on with their activities, especially their theater live stages.

The ladies of Jakarta’s theater lives are still going all thanks to the idol group’s partnership with the RCTI, one of the largest television networks in Indonesia, through its digital streaming arm, RCTI+.

So, why am I saying these things in this week’s column and what is the connection with MNL48? Plain and simple. It is because the ladies of Manila have the same thing with their Indonesian counterparts: the idol group also has a partnership with a major media entity in the form of ABS-CBN.

We should remember that throughout its conception, the Philippine media giant helped MNL48 in terms of providing a medium for them to show that they exists from the “It’s Showtime" era up to aiding them in terms of releasing their music.

However, due to the network’s issues and its eventual shutting down, HalloHallo Entertainment Inc. (HHE) didn’t utilize their agreement with ABS-CBN to its fullest, especially in other aspects such as streaming their live events, particularly their theater live stages... or rather, they didn’t see the digital streaming arm as their advantage especially during these times of the pandemic where fans wanted more content from the members aside from the Kumu live streams and the ”MNL48 Presents” series.

I know the two mentioned digital activities are a good thing considering that the girls now have a medium to showcase other aspects including acting, but in the long time, it won’t be enough and it could become stale. Even fans grew tired of it.

So HHE really need to tap in the “asset” of every AKB48 Group: the theater. I know their physical theater is still on the works with no updates regarding its construction, but they can do a digital theater live show.

They can still tap the Movie Stars Café as their temporary theater like what they do always in their live events. They just need to provide even a small number of their technical crew as a skeletal work force per health and safety guidelines, split a team into 2 groups of let us say, if we consider the current number of the girls per team, two groups of 7 or 8 members (two groups of 7 in case of Team L), dust off the set list for MNL1 and there you go.

I know that some of you will raise some brows and thinking “how will they ever do that even in the pandemic where everything, even events such as this, is prohibited?” Well, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) provided guidelines for shooting film and audiovisual shows in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and since theater live stages should fall on that category since they don’t need an audience for now (because events involving mass gatherings are still prohibited) and has cameras provided for them for the livestreaming. I think HHE should not have a reason why not to do so. After all, if they announced that they have plans of doing an online concert series during the accursed “#MNL48SaveTheDate” announcement, why not announce the resumption of the theater itself as well?

Livestreaming the theater live stages through iWant, or providing a Video On Demand option for it, is a win-win to all: for HHE in terms of their financial needs, for MNL48 members to enhance their abilities on-stage and shaking their “stage rust,” and for the fans who want something new, especially since they are willing to pay for these.

Ika nga “Kapag gusto, may paraan. Kung ayaw, may dahilan.” Again, HHE shouldn’t have any reasons nor excuses to execute this. They have more options than those. They just really need to be more proactive and not just rely on things just like the mentioned Kumu live streams and the ”MNL48 Presents” series. They need to go back to the AKB48 Group staple. They really need to restart their theater.

Take care and have fun.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and does not reflect the views held by the entirety of PAKSA MNL and fellow MNLoves.

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