Growing up, people usually have a path laid out for them: starting with elementary school, high school, college, to finding a job related to your undergraduate degree. And I did just that. However, after a year of working for a foreign embassy, I decided that the world is much more than what I see in my office desk. I left my job and took a summer workshop in acting at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Many think that acting is simple and easy – at least I did. I thought of it as an easy way to get rich. I wanted to be a celebrity and desired the perks that came with it. At that time, I had zero acting experience, zero knowledge in acting and the theater arts, and have watched zero stage plays aside from the only show that was required during college. Even that, I quickly forgot.
After a year of acting workshops, auditions, VTRs, small tapings, rehearsals, baklas and tuhog (when the crew dismantles the equipment and moves to another location to film the next scene or a completely different movie/tv series), I found out that acting was so much more. Sure, they make it look easy but it is exhausting work that requires passion and intelligence. Oh, and good health.
I don’t know which directors prefer more, a natural talent in acting, or an intelligent mind that can comprehend the driving force of an actor’s characterization. Perhaps a good measure of both. Acting is more than just #hugot.
As a beginner, I was lucky to be part of two professional theater productions: Virgin Labfest XI and Palasyo ni Valentin. During those shows, I met actors and technical crew from various walks of life. It was interesting getting to know how they began and how they became part of the theater world. I also met directors who taught me beyond the pages of my scripts. In between moments trying to understand how to portray my character, I learned not just about theater, but more importantly, culture and history. I think I learned more about Philippine history from my directors and senior actors more than I learned from my books.
It was then that I fell in love with acting on stage. The challenge that reading into a character posed, trying to understand what the playwright wanted to say, finding out the spine of a play, exploring how to portray it for an audience, and watching all the magic come alive on the first show, they were all wonderful.
To be an actor means being a wide-read person. An actor has to be aware of the past and present films, actors and their techniques, cultural differences, historical figures, and issues petty or of great importance. It’s like international studies, but more artsy. Sort of.
The stage opened doors for my imagination to go beyond my comfort zone of familiar stories, and to touch my audience. The best thing of it all is when you’re part of a play that challenges the audience to think and encourages them to make a change. It makes me proud to be a change maker.
This is my world of wonder. What’s yours?
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