Theater in the Philippines is characterized by different traditions and influences. There is a distinction between Muslim dance traditions on the one hand and traditional theater forms of Spanish origin on the other, as well as American influence. The dance forms can be ritually embossed and have shamanistic undertones. Tagbanwa is a female shaman who dances in trance and communicates with the spirits. Narrative or epic song forms are also common. This dates back to the 17th century.
During the Spanish colonization, Spanish traditional drama forms came to the Philippines, both worldly and religious. One can mention comedy or fun-fun and zarzuela. Komedya evolved from religious games and was performed in Latin as early as 1598. Fun-fun is related to masonry, which is related to the fight against the Moors in Spain, while in the Philippines it was transferred to the struggle between Christians and Muslims. Zarzuela is a musical dramatic form that takes up current themes. A dramatic or literary theater came into being in the late 1800s when the European-oriented middle class built the Zorilla Theater (1893). Spanish actor Aljeandro Cubero is considered the creator of a Spanish theater in the Philippines, but after the Americans took over the management of the country, American vaudeville ( living car ) came in.
Modern drama has been established in the Philippines following the pattern of American style. The Barangay Theater Guild was also created following the American pattern in the 1920s. Later, the struggle to use their own languages has been central to Philippine theater development, but many playwrights continued to use English after its liberation in 1946. Central institutions of recent years include the University Theater (University of the Philippines Repertory Company) and PETA (The Philippines Educational). Theater Association), a privately run theater organization. The latter produced Nukleyar I and Nukleyar II(1983–84), a kind of rock opera that absorbed song, dance, mime and elements from absurd theater. Philippine theater has also taken impetus from Brecht and extensively used zarzuela. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Manila is also an important site for innovative Philippine theater.