Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Picasso at the Lapin Agile" by Word of Mouth Theater

Word of Mouth Theater (WOM) headed by Jeremy-Benjamin Domingo will have a re-run on November 8, 2011 (N.B. Just got a message from Jeremy Domingo: we may be postponing our Picasso Encore Run to Nov.22. Please wait for further notice) of a staged reading of Steve Martin's Outer Critics Circle Award-winning comedy "PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE."

In a legendary bar in 1904 Paris, a chance encounter between the young Einstein and Picasso sets sparks and stars flying. What does the world look like to a genius on the verge of transforming it? Their views on sex, fame and the future collide amidst an eccentric constellation of characters. Steve Martin - yes, THAT Steve Martin - brilliantly tackles these questions and more in his award-winning comedy, where philosophy and humor are seamlessly woven together in this surreal encounter of two great minds. Winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off Broadway Play (Source:

Winner of 1996 New York Outer Critics' Circle Awards for "Best Play" and "Best Playwright," PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE is set in 1904 in a bohemian Paris bistro, the Lapin Agile. Steve Martin's play revolves around an imaginary meeting between a passionate Pablo Picasso  and a fiery Albert Einstein . The two young men on the threshold of fame vie for the attentions of a young lady and for each others respect in an hilarious battle of ideas about painting, probability, lust, and the future of the world. One year later, Albert Einstein published the Special Theory of Relativity. Three years later, Pablo Picasso painted Les Demoiselles D'Avignon. (Source:

Word of Mouth Theater, Philippines invites with the phrase "PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD"  for it will be an evening of "music, dinner and show" all for P450 per person.

Featuring (in alphabetical order):
Apollo Abraham • David Bianco • Jennifer Blair-Bianco • Jeremy Domingo
Kenneth Keng • Lesley Leveriza • Leo Rialp • Rob Rownd • Jamie Wilson
with William Elvin & Jean Judith Javier

Directed by Jeremy Domingo
Visual Design by Rob Rownd

WHEN: November 8, 2011, 8pm (N.B. Just got a message from Jeremy Domingo: we may be postponing our Picasso Encore Run to Nov.22. Please wait for further notice)
WHERE: at QUANTUM CAFÉ, G/F Feron Bldg. 9590 Kamagong cor. Bagtikan, Makati City
(entrance on Bagtikan St.)

HOW MUCH: ***TICKETS at P450 each*** (inclusive of show, dinner and beverage)

For Reservations contact Cricket at (0905) 357-7420

Saturday, October 29, 2011

With Peter Pan in Neverland

A shot from my seat.  Set by Gino Gonzales and light design by John Batalla design. No Copyright Infringement Intended.
I just saw Peter Pan, the Musical Adventure by Repertory Philippines and Stages - which I wasn't excited about or planning to see. I had an impression that it was "kiddie-ish" but I had to for I had decided recently to continue watching plays regardless. So, I caught watching it on its last weekend. 

Souvenir Program, specially designed for Kids - but it is something I buy everytime I watch a play.  I collect them.

I was right, it was a play for "kids" not for adults. So if you have kids, this is the perfect play.  It is the last weekend end though, so if you have not seen it and you have kids, better catch it in its re-run (if there will ever be). Kids were noisy and in awe everytime they see Peter Pan and the 3 children flying and Captain Hook acting funnily.  Like every kid, it would be a delight to let them experience fantasy and adventure for children which will linger in their memories until they grow-up, similar to what I have experienced watching Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and the like when I was a child.

I was impressed with the set (by Gino Gonzales) and light (by John Batalla) design, and technical effects (Dong Calingacion as Technical Director)  - flying Peter Pan, Wendy and siblings and all but as to other aspects it was "okay" - nothing exciting to say much about.  The story is not deep enough for adults to appreciate and like any regular adult appreciation for kiddie-ish shows wanes as we grow older unless you belong to the exception.  Expectedly, every kid who watched the show will have a different point of view from mine.  I have some bits and pieces to say though (placed  at the pictures' captions below).

Michael Williams as Captain Hook - with his usual comedic talent.  I have watched him several times in comedy roles that his acting style has become predictable for me.  It would be interesting if he modifies his comedic acting style for a change.  Nevertheless, he is still THE MICHAEL WILLIAMS I look up to as an actor and singer - and  that will never change. 

Robbie Zialcita at my left as sidekick of Captain Hook gave good acting performance ;) 
With the cast: Tippy Dos Santos as Wendy on my left, (beautiful and powerful voice) & Sam Concepcion as Peter on my right (his asset: Star Quality and Acting Skills.  He has to hone his singing though which I find to be his weakness, particularly for theater. It has to be more powerful and more controlled).  The little boy on pajamas, Miggy Santos was mere alternate as Michael Darling - but his singing voice was so clear and beautiful for his age ;), I was very impressed with him on that regard.  I am also impressed with the crystal clear singing voice and felt the energy of Kakki Teodoro (with the Indian outfit) as Tiger Lily.
this little girl in the middle also won in the raffle for backstage pass like moi. Isn't she cute? ;)
5 from the audience had the privilege (by raffle) to go up the stage and take pictures with the actors. Guess what? I was one of the LUCKY 5! ;) Haha.

proof that I won in the raffle
I understand this is one of the biggest and most expensive productions this season (by Rep and Stages in tandem for the first time) "Next to Normal" though is still on my top of the list for best play this year (blog review on N2N coming soon). 

Again with Menchu, now as director (not actor this time)
P.S. Sorry I am ugly without make up. I didn't expect to be in the lucky 5 to have these picture taken with the actors and rest of the team ;)

Met Jun V., whom I worked with in Joseph the Dreamer (Trumpets Inc, Gary V Run, 1999). We were both in the Ensemble - which was more than a decade ago!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Law & Theatre Enmeshed

The PROSECUTION TEAM with the legal luminary DEAN LEONEN, our professor in Evidence.
I was holding the rubber shoe (our Object Evidence)

Yesterday was the finale of my Finals Season, 1st semester AY 2011-2012, and it was one of the best experiences I had in my lawschool life.

Evidence - is a subject in lawschool and considered as the crown of Remedial Law. Without the "Rules of Evidence"  - we cannot prove anything for every evidence that we need to prove in court must be in accordance to the Rules of Court - mandated by the Supreme Court.

I am still a student and all I am exposed to are cases, books and codals. However yesterday, the Dean showed us that there is indeed a big difference between studying and memorizing the books, cases and theories and putting them in practical application.

Yesterday marked my first experience as a trial lawyer  as part of our Final Exam under the legal luminary Dean Leonen who acted as the presiding Judge.

Our team, was the prosecution and our case was based on People v. Berame, a 1976 case penned by Chief Justice Fernando. Through this assigned case, we need to make our own pleadings, affidavits and arguments in prosecuting the accused Domiciano Berame.

I came in LATE! I arrived at 3:20pm (We were scheduled at 3:00pm).

Reason? I oveslept for I had a sleepless night reading books and mastering my direct & re-direct examination.  Upon arrival, our Public Prosecutor (May Marquez) was already direct examining my witness so she had to pause.  I had to approach the bench and ask Judge Dean Leonen if I can repeat the final offer of the prosecution.

Dean Leonen was kind enough to say "Yes". And so, my intro came this way (remembering GOOD DICTION, STAGE PROJECTION, LOUD & A CLEAR VOICE - and my years as an orator/declamator in my gradeschool and highschool were rekindled) :

PROS CORPUZ: We are offering the testimony of the witness, as an eyewitness to the incident leading to his father’s death, to prove:

·           the material allegations in the Information, specifically, that he personally witnessed his father being shot several times by herein accused DOMICIANO BERAME alias DOMING on the eve of April 13, 1966

·                     that he saw the circumstances leading to the shooting incident; 

·                    that he saw how the accused holding a gun, specifically a .38 caliber pistol

·                    That he saw the accused together with another man who both ran immediately after the incident; 

·                    to identify the accused in open court, as the same person who shot his father;

·                    to identify the Sinumpaang Salaysay or Sworn statement which he executed on April 13, 1966

·                    and for other related purposes Your Honor. 

Judge:            Proceed.

PROS CORPUZ: Mr.  Witness, do you know the deceased in this case, QUIRICO MANINGO?
W: Yes.  
PROS CORPUZ:  How do you know him?
W: He is my father.  He raised me as a single father since my mother died of liver cancer when I was 5 years old. 
PROS CORPUZ: Where is your mother?
W: She is dead. 
PROS CORPUZ: Do you have siblings?
W: None. I am the only child.

Suddenly the DEFENSE TEAM objects...
DEFENSE BAGUISI: Objection, your Honor. The question is irrelevant.

PROS CORPUZ: But your honor, the reason why I am asking that question is that there are only 2 members of the family present in the crime scene! I want to know why there are only 2 family members present, that is why I am asking these questions!

JUDGE LEONEN, smiling and nodding at me said, "The objection is overruled. The counsel may proceed with her questioning.

My ears were clapping when Dean Leonen said this. LOL! (He never smiles when I recite in class, and my recitations sucked!) Then I continued, but the defense again interrupted...

DEFENSE BAGUISI: You honor, may we request the counsel to lower her voice because this might scare/affect the witnesses (or words to that effect).

Then I answered back...

PROSEC CORPUZ: Your honor, in answer to that objection, I would like to manifest that this is the normal volume of my speaking voice, but I'll try my best to lower it as much as I can. ;)

To which Dean Leonen replied, "I will allow the counsel to speak in such tone/volume of voice. "

Again I was sided by the Judge!

My happy figurative smile was beyond my ears. I continued my direct-examination and finally ended  by making my witness Jayvee Camiling (as Danilo S. Maningo, son of the murdered victim) identify the Sworn Statement he executed.

Jayvee is the one wearing stripes while Aldrin is our other witness

I realized that NOTHING beats preparation. An actor must never enter the stage unrehearsed.  Similarly, a lawyer should never come in the courtroom unprepared.  I made the title of this blog "Law and Theatre Enmeshed" because in trial, there are theatrics involved

Look confident, act confident.  I remember my Criminal Law 2 Professor, Ildefonso Jimenez said, "Never ever show the Judge that you are not sure of what you are saying. Even if you really aren''t sure, don't show it!  Always look confident!" - I will never ever forget those words in class in relation to a classmate who was mumbling and lacking confidence while reciting.

I also remember a statement in a blogpost of Atty. Ted Te, my Criminal law 1 Professor to speak clearly and audibly.  The "stage projection and voice projection" are very important.  I remember this when I read one of his first Vinculum Juris blog posts a few years back, particularly his no. 8 & 10 pointers (Emphasis in bold and brown colors supplied by me), to wit:

Telling stories

Many lawyers consider direct examination boring; I used to, when I was starting out. Part of the reason was all those lawyer movies where the most exciting stuff happens during cross examination. When I started to really handle cases, I realized just how exciting--and important--direct examination is.

Direct examination is that part of trial where a story is told, particularly your client's. What spells the difference is how effective you are on direct examination.

A good story is one that holds the interest of the listener; and the most important listener in that court room is the Judge. The challenge is how to hold the judge's interest. Effective direct examination ensures that your client's story will be told and will be told well.

Here are 10 tips for effective--and, yes, exciting--direct examination.

1. Come up with a theory of your case. A theory is not necessarily the cause of action but it must incorporate your cause of action. Your theory is the most plausible explanation of what really happened and why the court should rule in your client's favor. (T. Mauet, Fundamentals of Trial Technique [1988]) A good theory takes into account all the facts--good and bad--and weaves these facts together into an explanation that the judge will find logical and plausible.

2. Present the judge with an image. A noted trial lawyer during his time, former Senator Jose W. Diokno, clearly well-ahead of his time, very wisely commented that "it is not enough as the law book tells you to have a theory of your case. You must also have an image of your case–something that appeals to the reason and sense of justice of the judge, something that would make him say, 'Indeed, this person is right and if the law isn’t that way, maybe I can interpret it so that it will be that way.'” (Jose Manuel I. Diokno, Jose W. Diokno on Trial: Techniques and Ideals of the Filipino Lawyer [2007])

Both your theory and image should be simple, logical, consistent with human experience, provable by the evidence you have and strong enough to withstand your opponent's own theory and image. Remember O.J. Simpson and the gloves and Johnnie Cochran's by-now classic rhyme, "if it don't fit, you must acquit"? That was theory and image coming together, powerfully. Of course, we all know what happened to that trial and to O.J.

3. Determine which witnesses will establish your theory and in what order you will present them. Knowing who to present during trial is almost as important as which questions to ask the witness during trial. Of course, if you are fortunate enough to have eyewitnesses or a complainant who can testify, this will not require much thought. But we don't always get these witnesses, as frequently, we get witnesses who can only testify to one, but not every, part of your theory. Starting with the best witnesses will determine how effectively the theory and image can be presented. One quick and simple rule of thumb in determining who to present: start strong, end strong.

4. Ask the best questions. The most effective direct examinations involve the lawyer asking all the best questions. The best questions are the simplest, shortest and most comfortable (at least to the lawyer) questions he is capable of asking. There are two parts to this: first, ask the best questions during your interview with the client or witness and second, based on that interview, ask the best questions during the trial.

5. Know what your witness will say and how s/he will say it. A traditional cross-examiner's tactic is to rattle the witness by asking, off the bat, if the witness talked to you, his/her counsel, before testifying. What this question seeks to instill in the witness is a sense of irregularity if s/he had, indeed, spoken with counsel. In truth, there is nothing unethical or wrong with speaking with your witness before the trial; on the contrary, it would be irresponsible for counsel to not speak with the witness before presenting the witness. What is unethical would be for counsel to tell the witness what to say. During the preparations for his/her testimony, you should ask the witnesses to answer your questions based on how they understand your questions--without commenting on or reacting to their answers at first. This will allow you to see what the witness will say and how s/he will say it.

6. Use the 5Ws,1H. Who. What. Where. When. Why. How. Not necessarily in this order, though. The advantage of using the 5Ws, 1H is that you will rarely be accused of asking leading questions on direct examination.

7. Learn to loop your questions. "Looping" is the practice of using the witness' previous answer as the premise for your next question. For instance, "You said that you were at (place and time), what were you doing there? Two advantages of "looping" your questions are: (1) you will hardly ever be objected to on the ground of "no basis" and (2) your witness' testimony and story will become very familiar to the judge because specific details will be repeated.

8. Use your voice and body well. What spells the difference between boring and exciting direct examination is frequently how you sound and how you look when asking your questions. Be conscious of how loud (or soft) your voice is, how comprehensible (or incomprehensible) your words are when speaking in public. Be conscious of body language--particularly yours. Rehearse your speaking voice, inflection, tone and even posture and body movements. Know when to move around a lot and when not to. For instance, standing perfectly still while a witness tears up on the stand will focus the attention on the witness, not on you.

9. Prepare any documents you need to present before the trial. Use an Exhibit Guide and an Exhibit List. If you are marking any documents, put small tabs or post its with the proposed marking on the documents; if you have many documents, make sure they are all separately stapled or clipped. Being aware of the Best Evidence Rule, make sure you have the originals and photocopies; if you do not have the originals, make sure you have legible copies and make a note to yourself to ask questions to lay the basis for secondary evidence. Make use of clear books or clear files to separate documents you will be presenting and those that will remain in your file.

10. End confidently and well. Before saying, "that's all, your honor", take about 10 seconds to quickly go over your outline or questions to make sure that you have covered everything you wanted. Check points you have covered and make sure to ask questions on the points that are not checked. After asking the last question, allow about 2 seconds from the witness' answer before nodding confidently and declaring, "that's all, your honor." 

So yes, there is theatre in law. Theatrics are involved.  Drama, stage presence and projection are involved. 

"Law" and "Theatre" are indeed intertwined. 

PROSECUTION: Conrad Lacsina, Al Hajim, Mylene Marquez & Me

Before I end my post, I would like to thank my PROSECUTION DREAM TEAM

I had the most fun experience this semester with these people. With the guidance of Conrad (Prosec. Lacsina) and Ate May (Prosec. Marquez), I and the rest of the team, together with our witnesses would never have done well.  Though our 50% Final Exam for Evidence (Moot Court) was nerve-wracking and caused us sleepless nights and anxiety attacks - and we made few mistakes - Dean Leonen guided us and gave pointers how to correct them. 

It was a GREAT learning experience.

Special thanks to:

****Our WITNESSES - who all did well and sacrificed their time though they had other obligations and final exams as well. Special mention to Jayvee Camiling (my witness, who had the longest script). Maraming salamat!

****My MOM, who is always my saviour and guiding light - was fortunately in Manila to help me with rush orders for Naomi’s Kitchen chocolates that coincided with my “hell week” - my moot court and finals season. I love you mommy!

*** MY DAD - who coached me, gave me pointers and prayed for me (while in Ilocos Norte) as we communicate via cellphone and email

*** Atty. LEA DOMINGO-CABBARUBIAS- my good friend, mentor, former boss at PAO for her brilliant suggestions and pieces of advice.

***Lastly, thank you Lord for allowing me to go through this finale of my finals season.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” ` Philippians 4:13

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sound of Music in Manila Resorts World 2011

The very first musical we were exposed to - THE SOUND OF MUSIC - which we watched a gazillion times in betamax together with my siblings and I when we were kids.

I wasn't excited to watch this on stage for I felt I'm overexposed to it already... but when I saw this video, the settings, props & technology involved and the POWERHOUSE VOICES of the actors I think this is a play I SHOULD NOT MISS! Even the alternates of Joanna Ampil & Audie G. are amazing!

The Cast and Show Schedule:

For Tickets and Showdates:

"Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved musical, “The Sound of Music,” makes its much-anticipated return to Philippine theater at Resorts World Manila’s world-class stage--The Newport Performing Arts Theater.

Directing this new production is Roxanne Lapus. Leading the star-studded cast are theater superstars Joanna Ampil and Cris Villonco as Maria. Audie Gemora takes on the role of Austrian Navy Captain Georg von Trapp, with Ed Feist and Jon Joven as alternates.

Adding glitz to the line-up are Pinky Marquez and Shiela Franciso as the Mother Abbess, Pinky Amador and Lynn Sherman as the Baroness Elsa Schraeder, and Marvin Ong as Rolf. Other cast members include Robbie Guevara, Miguel Faustmann and Tanya Manalang.

Live orchestration will be provided by the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, to be conducted by musical director Rodel Colmenar.

For tickets, call 8363333 or 9088833." - info from Gibbs Cadiz @

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

To Be An Actor

“Anyone can be a star —- for as short as three months—- or as long as his talent can hold. But not everyone —- not just anyone—- can be an actor.” - Jose Javier Reyes

I stumbled upon this note “KEYNOTE ADDRESS by Jose Javier Reyes, on the occasion of the First General Assembly of the Philippine Theater Actors’ Guild” posted by a fellow theater enthusiast.

After watching “Next to Normal” last friday night (October 7), my passion for singing and performing in theater was rekindled. However I told myself, “How can I go back to theater now, when I am tied up with my lawstudies which is taking most of my time?”

But musical theater is and will always be my first love.

To be honest, yes I was inspired by their riveting performance, but I also envied them at the same time. I would’ve have traded anything to play a part in that play, if it were possible.

When I was in college I took theater 100, a free elective under Tony Mabesa and I vividly recall on one of his lectures that, “No actor on stage will immediately be very good. An artist improves through time,” he says. ” Though there are those who are gifted, “na magaling na agad”, generally actors don’t start well, but they get better and better as time goes,” he says.

And so, after watching “Next to Normal”, I made a vow that after I finish my law degree,— I will give time to focus on my passion, an avocation (for I would be a lawyer then) - that is “singing and performing on stage”, but this time, with maturity and discipline (which I think have been ingrained in every law student in U.P.). I need to study the craft, hone it and learn the tricks of the trade so to speak - amidst the politics, and crab-mentality that co-exist with the theater industry.

My relationship with theater is bittersweet. I was always chosen to do lead roles in school productions, theater workshops and unknown small theater groups but I always end up a reject (most of the time) if not a cameo role or part of an ensemble in professional theater of the famous theater groups- either because I am unknown, they always pick the popular ones, those with connections, or simply, they weren’t impressed at all, to be objective & I didn’t give that enough impact, unless I am Karylle or KC Concepcion.

I also had a traumatic experience with a theater director (whose name I won’t mention here) that I decided to withdraw from theater for awhile. I was 17 years old, very young, lacking experience and naive. I was the second to the youngest girl in the cast (I was a day older than the youngest). It was my first professional theater experience. Two fellow actors even approached me after that incident; one talked to me asking if I was okay, while the other told me “If you have anything to share to me, you can open up.” The director treated me like dirt or even dumb (partly a reason why I am pursuing law now — that is not to say that I am taking law solely because I want to prove myself to that director. I honestly love the law and what I am studying except for taxation). He didn’t even care to remember my name, and called me “Lorelai” that he invented every time he refers to me.The trauma lingered however that I decided to withdraw from theater for awhile.

Thank God, when I was in 2nd year college, I was given the opportunity to perform again on stage. That was DAF (Diary of Anne Frank) - one of my most memorable experiences in theater because of the people I worked with. I didn’t feel annoyed or intimidated by any of them. Despite the “lousy invisible director” we had and “poor marketing skills” the now defunct theater company also had - I had no regrets being a part of that cast, for more importantly I was able to meet friends (some were meek, some were torpe (haha!), some are just plain jologs and funny). I had so much fun in that play on and off stage and I am glad, with facebook, I can still communicate with them once in awhile .

Theater like any other industry — there are good people but at the same time, there are, to put it bluntly, insensitive assholes if not airheads.

BUT regardless, as I said I made a vow, marked in stone, that I will perform again - renewed, in a better shape and form, after I pass the bar in 2013, God-willing. Now, that is something I need to prepare for.

The training in lawschool is not only about laws and jurisprudence. There is also “character-building” involved - which is the first or even the most important lesson or training that any lawstudent would learn. This can be applied in any aspect in life, such as theater in particular. Now that is start, together with this piece of Jose Javier Reyes, about what it takes to be an actor. ~ Naomi


by Jose Javier Reyes

On the occasion of the First General Assembly of the

Philippine Theater Actors’ Guild

10 October 2011

PETA Theater Center

This gathering is important.

It is not only an expression of camaraderie, a renewal of friendship or a sharing of common interests.

Tonight is a vital first step.

This gathering is a statement. We want change…and we all realize that there is a task at hand. This is a necessity not merely for the sake of survival but to certify the significance of what we have chosen to become.

We come from a culture that seems to celebrate disparity as much as it makes a big deal out of our sense of unity. And yet our history has proven that change and advancement can only come when we all decide to forget our differences and assert our common goals.

If one still asks if it indeed a necessity for theater performers to get together, I think the answer is quite apparent.

This has got nothing and everything to do with the consumption of SkyFlakes crackers for lunch and dinner. This meeting is important because it is a necessary step from a decision we all made some time agao: We decided that we wanted to be artists.

We decided that this human life lent to us can and will only have meaning if we pursue, persist and fight for what can give us fulfillment. And that is to be theater artists. That is to be performers.

Mind you, I am not talking about success. I am speaking about the more important fulfillment.

Believe me when I say that there are so many people I know who are so successful but are completely unfulfilled.

Well, yes… rarely can a theater artist be featured in Yes Magazine! to showcase his or her house: well, not unless you are Eugene Domingo.

Rarely can the theater artist be recognized in a tiangge in Greenhills… or spend his weekend shopping at the third floor of TriNoMa or the exclusive shops at Greenbelt.

You see that is the difference between being a celebrity and an artist.

A celebrity gets immeasurable recognition, gets paid exorbitant amounts and gets all the fringe benefits for being public property. A celebrity will earn literally multi-millions for endorsing everything from laundry detergents to feminine washes. And a celebrity does not even require talent. Just a lot of marketing and helluva lot more luck.

Ah, but if you choose to be a theater performer, chances are… you come from a very rich family or basically a masochist.

Theater has never developed to become a lucrative business in this country.

You join the theater because you love to perform… even if you know you cannot make a decent living out of it. Through all these years, the Filipino theater artist has subsisted for the love of the art and the craft—- whether he came from the walkways of the Rajah Sulaiman Theater in Intramuros or the backstage corridors of the Insular Life Theater in Ayala Avenue or the Tanghalang Batute or the Little Theater at the CCP.

The theater artist seeks more than success; he is in constant search for elusive fulfillment. Ironically, fulfillment is so hard to define is the reason why… we persist, insist and subsist.

That is why you are all gathered here tonight. I am joining you in your celebration of untied masochism.

More than that, you are here because you care for theater. No, you don’t only care for theater… you love being part of theater.

Because you share a comoon passion, you want our countrymen to understand what you are doing… and what you want not only for ourselves but for our country.

You want Filipinos to finally acknowledge and appreciate the passions that so few truly understand.

You are here not for selfish reasons —- because if you were here only after the trappings of success, then perhaps you would have given up this calling and ended up in a call center instead.

You are here to make a point… and to make others see that you matter. Yes, you do matter. You may not be treated as well you wish it to be… but you matter.

Whether recognized or not… even if the theater artist is not beholden to the kingdom of the giant networks or do not have direct lines to the gods and goddesses of the movie studios… you matter!

You, like all creative agents —- mavericks, rebels and iconoclasts —- are instrumental in the shaping of our national culture.

So what makes this event important? Let me give my tatlong puntos.

Firstly, as soldiers of theater, it is about time that this country learns and recognizes the importance of this form of art as part of their lives.

There are still those who believe that theater is an elitist form of entertainment. There are those who do not recognize that the history of our country has always been anchored on theater forms in order to bring a sense of community and express the sentiments or mindset at whatever point of our soci-political evolution. But let’s not even go there.

To make my point straightforward and simple —- theater is still considered either a luxury or something required by classess in Literature and Theater Arts in high school and colleges.

The tradition of an authentic theater-going public has yet to b developed because it was never given a chance to be even a habit.

And why? Because of very apparent reasons. Not only do we lack the accessible venues for our countrymen to see the showcase of our works. Theater has been relegated to a dispensable form of entertainment made accessible only to a few.

Because of that, theater artists have never been given the importance they most definitely deserve. Because people do not know you. People do not appreciate what you do and what you represent.

Yes, we have the Cultural Center of the Philippines and places such as this… but there has been no concerted effort to bring theater closer to the people rather than compelling the audience to come to the theater.

As long as theater remains as an option from watching a concert of Bruno Mars or the Black Eyed Peas… as long as theater is considered a necessary evil, a requirement to complete courses because of reaction papers and submitted reviews to teachers… then theater can never truly be a part of the life of our countrymen.

And after all these years… after all the sacrifices made by the likes of Tinio, Mabesa, Espejo, Anton Juan, Amador, Guidote-Alvarez and a whole generation who precedes those gathered here tonight, it is about time. Yes, it is about time that you make theater matter.

The country takes pride in saying we have talents in world-class caliber. Pointless to mention the names too familiar that they have become part of a mantra: Lea Salonga, Joanna Ampil, Leo Valdez, Junix Innocian, Monique Wilson et cetera et cetera. Pointless to relentlessly celebrate their names and yet admit the fact that you —- theater artists—- are still being treated like second class citizens in the entertainment business.

This leads me to my second point: It is about time that the theater artists are given the respect that he and she deserve.

Let me assess the situation we all know:

Even a respected veteran movie and television performer whose acting and popularity were honed by media experience said that times have indeed changed.

Nowadays, it is so easy to be called an artista even if you know nothing about acting.

Because of a highly competitive dog-eat-puppy world of mass media, actors are no longer treated as people. You guys have become commodities.

Whereas before, to be called an actor means to prove how good you are in what you do, nowadays anybody who has been thrown in front of a camera can make claims that he is already an actor.

We all know, for instance, that reality shows are the biggest on-camera auditions ever conceived by mainstream commercial television to find the next generation of stars to fill up the studio’s stable. We all know that there are endless talent searches to keep the stockroom filled with second and third-liners. Fresh from the catch, these young wannabes are thrown straight into the barbeque pit and made to mimic what is supposed to be acting in front of the cameras. Performers borne out of popularity and salability of the moment are made leads, considered as star while do their on-the-job training.

The veteran actress asked, “Ganun na lang ba yon? Kahit sino na ba artista na ngayon?” And the sad answer is both a yes and no.

Anyone can be a star —- for as short as three months—- or as long as his talent can hold. But not everyone —- not just anyone—- can be an actor.

Stars fade—- actors mature. Stars are dependent on the box office receipts of their latest movies —- or how their most recent adventure in television fairs in the ratings game.

Actors are as good as their most recent performance —- measured by their competence in the role that they are made to play and challenged by other roles that remain to be discovered.

That is why actors are diamonds that shine with greatest brilliance in time. Celebrities merely fade … or enter politics.

When television and film productions —- both commercial and independent – are in need of competent, reliable and guaranteed professional performers —- they tap the theater actors. I know that for a fact.

As a line producer for commercial films or as a TV director, there is a roster of theater performers who form a core group of supporting actors that can enhance any show or film.

You —- the theater actor—- provide credibility to the performance level of films. Sometimes the theater actor, as the supporting performers, surround the neophyte wannabe star so that the audience can be made to believe that the newcomer can impersonate acting. In other words, you guys give credit to the dancing bear. It is not how good the bear dances… but the fact that you can make the bear dance at all.

But the saddest part is that you still get the SkyFlakes reference as a joke. I am quite sure that young man did not mean it that way… but is perceived that way not only by the larger public. Worse, that is how media productions think and perceive you.

Life for the dedicated professional actor was never fair. Even in the US, the likes of Jane Alexander, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin and others never reached that much coveted star status not unless you are Meryll Streep. In our contry, the same thing can be said. Theater actors play the competent and inevitable supporting roles and never manage to have their names above the title—- well, not unless you are Eugene Domingo.

But what sounds like a dismal situation is good news. You should give premium to what you are worth not only for your theater work but for popular media as well.

An actors in an actor is an actor… regardless of where he appears: onstage, onscreen or in the tube. You should realize that even if you are given supporting roles that this is not a reson to be treated like second class citizens on the movie or television set.

As I said—-an actor is an actor is an actor. The only way you can dignify the wealth of your experience and training is when people realize that tour work in theater is far superior than the three day workshops given to wannabes who will be force-fed to the television or movie audiences.

This leads me to the final point: no one can help you except yourselves.

If I can be so blatantly honest with you, I have learned one thing about this country. You cannot depend on anyone to protect your turf and interests except yourself.

Government support to help boost the cultural development in this country? Government support to aid the development and propagation of theater?

Fat chance, people. Right at this very moment, there are more pressing problems in Hagonoy and Calumpit. Not that the cultural development should not be a priority… but it never was and by the looks of it, shall never be.

Besides, anything that has got to do with government tends to be tainted by politics, politicking and partisanship. I guess you wouldn’t want to go into that either.

So the most important lessons, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that no one can help you except youselves. And that is why tonight is very important. Tonight, by being here, you make a stand… no longer as an individual who has dedicated his life to theater… but as part of community seeking for a definite identity and a potent voice.

Tonight is important because if there is any need, any change that will take place… the crucial first step has already been taken. The journey has already started because you have empowered yourselves… because you realize that if there is anybody who should protect your interests… then it has to be your own moves, your own intentions, and your own volition.

It is perhaps too simplistic to enumerate three points and claim that these summarize the problems you must confront. There are definitely more. This adventure is bound to be a bumpy but interesting ride. But what is important is that you have made the crucial first step. And this, my friends, is the significance of this night… which hopefully is the birth of a new theater in the country.


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