This year marks a lot of first for me. I thought newbies won’t ever be given a chance in theater particularly those who have not received formal education. After auditioning for the Virgin Labfest XI at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, I was cast in the revisited play, Ang Naghihingalo.
Being a play in Set E – Revisited, means that it was well-received in last year’s Virgin Labfest that it was set to be performed again the following year. It is not unusual to have a different actor play a character the next time. However, it was my first time hearing that a character can be added with the permission of the playwright.
Written by Raymund P. Reyes and directed by Dennis Marasigan, the play stars theater veterans Dolly de Leon, Wenah Nagales, Russell Legaspi, along with Karyl Factora and Zandra Summer. The story revolves around an unplayed character, Intoy who was rushed to the hospital due to aneurysm. His wife opens the scene escorted by Intoy’s sister in law. Verbal sparring ensues as Intoy’s siblings arrive at the hospital one by one, with each arrival increasing the long-held tension and animosity between the siblings. Insight into their lifestyles, backgrounds, and relationship with one another can be derived from the one-act play that ends with the news of Intoy’s death.
The stage, brilliantly set-up similar to a boxing ring with red and blue corner allows the audience to empathize with all characters, leaving them with a debate as to which sibling was right – not that it matters anymore by the end of this tragic drama. Whether we admit it or not, the play is a reflection of our family-culture in the Philippines where no one can ever be independent from their families due to so-called ‘family ties’. The playwright also confirms that the story was similar to what he had experienced as an OFW in the Middle East.
I am proud to have worked with such brilliant actors and director, even if I had no spoken line. At first, I feared that I would be bored during the month-long rehearsals but each day taught me something new. The actors I worked with delivered something new every time until it was fine-tuned by the director. It also helped that they were all nice to me. I have this fear of being rejected by a group I want to belong to.
Another fear I had was when I was told to also memorize the lines of Felisa as an understudy. As I looked at the page-long monologue I had to deliver, I immediately panicked. But as always, our director doesn’t give us what he knows we can’t do. I guess that’s one of the reasons why directors cast the people they already know. A typical sentiment of a newbie who knows no one and trying to get a role in a play/tv/movie.
During this season’s Labfest, I proactively volunteered for the Stage Reading. 10-page plays, written during the writers’ workshop are tested for potential development. No fancy stage setup nor costumes, just basic props and a black curtain.
This annual celebration of writers, actors, directors makes the CCP come alive like it does to the hearts of thespians and aspiring actors like me. It’s a small thing, but I was ecstatic to be in the same Set E with my former teacher, Tita Sherry. It means, sharing the small space backstage and the rehearsal space. I was also glad to see Ate Ina, my former classmate in Beginning Acting under Ms Sherry Lara. Part of this season’s Labfest were my former RPT classmates Blanche Buhia and Joshua Tayco. To be part of a talented and wonderful group of people was truly an honor. Acting goals: work with my former classmates and mentors in a production!
P.S. Congratulations Blanche for being part of revisited. If you haven’t seen Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala, make sure to watch next year’s revisited!