The stage is always haunted. It is a frightening space. Even when i was in the university, acting and performing, which i regularly did for my college organization the UP Repertory Company, every moment onstage, with the lights on, the music fading in and out and the audience anticipating the experience the actors will give them, was terrifying.
This is why i thought twice in accepting Babit’s excerpt of the Miser for his directing class. Babit is an orgmate from UP Rep, taking a masters degree in theater arts and for his drecting class. He called me and another friend Jorgette to play Harpagon and Frosine in the said piece. Babit’s “come on” was that we two were his dream cast. My gaaad, who am I to refuse and crash one’s astonishing dream. So i took the role.
Jetty and i were involved in several plays prior, yet this one challenged us a little further. It is in English. Rennaissance English. I remember doing one play, also for a directing class some 9 or 8 years back, but my only line was a simple sentence not longer than three words with ten syllables all in all.
I can say we were quite prepared when faced the audience including Babit’s classmates and some former colleagues, and of course the professor emeritus himself, Sir Tony Mabesa. The pressure of having this in English was nothing compared to having Babit’s professor watching us.
Babit was the fourth presenter. After telling his concept for the production, Sir Tony refuted at once, wanting to take the “Tula-Dula” in the concept. My gaaad, that was the “quite” in our preparedness. He said that it was dirty, and it was not real, and he was allergic to it and all that. Babit should stick on the Commedia dell’Arte.
That all happened a minute before our performance with mw and Jetty holding hands to keep the slowly diminishing energy. The play started. i did what we rehearsed waiting for my cues and clues from my partner Jorgette. A few laughs and some reactions kept my energy. But it did not keep me from forgetting and changing some lines. After a short while, our moment was over.
It was time for Babit to listen. Sir Tony, felt it was long, and the energy faded towards the end. A classmate, even commented that it had a great four minute start and that was it. Sir Tony thought that a some more set pieces would make the play better. A set to further Babit’s good blocking, after all as i quote sir Tony, babit has “a knack for it!”
Some pronounciation and grammar were checked, as i mispromounced “admirable” and “Frosine” and Jetty said “furnitures.” However, the clarity of our lines and our intonation was commended.
Lucky for me, a contemporary version was done earlier. I was compared to their Harpagon. Well, i am pleased to hear that i did better, with my acting, my, consistency, my costume, my make up and my… acting. Please forgive my humility or the lack of it. But my gaad, i think i deserve it after my thighs stiffened for doing an old man’s silhouette. And i did my make up twice by the way.
Jetty and I were somehow, as i take it, praised, when Sir Tony said that the work is already half done by choosing the right actors. Babit was right in having us as his dream cast. haha!
To end it, he was advised to edit the script, take down the parts which brought the energy down and add some set pieces. We were to present it next Saturday, a surprise for me and Jetty, another. We thought, it was a single performance and were done. Yet, i am excited to do it again.
The stage is a frightening area but it is a fear worth conquering. Each of its moment is a different experience of learning, unlearning and relearning. And similar to being in a horror movie, or facing a ride that is seemingly deadly, it is always better because i am with my friends. chumminess! My Gaaad!