Last night, I saw the Red Turnip Theater production of Cock. The Mark Bartlett written play is a really well-written four-man piece, a ninety-minute tour de force of rather crisp and witty dialogue and puts the full weight of the play on the shoulders of the actors. There’s practically no set design, just a ring in the centre that’s akin to a bull fighter’s ring or, in a Filipino perspective, a cockfighting circle. Directed by Rem Zamora and performed by Topper Fabregas, Nicolo Manahan, Jenny Jamora, and Audie Gemora, Cock is a powerful piece of theatre and wonderfully directed and brought to its full potential with the amazing performances by the actors, most especially by Audie Gemora (who is always so good) and by Topper Fabregas (who I’ve also seen in last year’s The Producers and is slowly becoming my favourite Filipino stage actor).
My only gripe is the sound system. The actors were all fitted with a microphone but the sound system was such that the sound was coming out of the speakers behind the audience rather from the actors and since Whitespace is such a small and intimate setting, it’s quite jarring to have their voices coming from another location. Whitespace is so small that they could have just used stage voice and projected. Audie Gemora, being ever the professional and veteran, was able to do this, despite the microphone and the sound projected out of him and this helped us synch to his performance so much more clearly. The sound system wasn’t even good, so there was a muted quality to their voices, it was digitalised by the sound system and it ruined the intimacy aspect of the venue.
But otherwise, it was an incredible play and I just absolutely loved it. The play is funny and thought-provoking and challenging. I’m so happy to have seen it.
I’ve been catching a lot of productions lately since my return to Manila back in 2012. Either I get invited because of work to make a review, or friends are part of productions so I get invited to watch, or I see something that interests me and I go out of my way to watch them. Whatever the case, I’m so happy that I’m starting to become more and more engaged in the world of theatre.
I watched Red for a third time, when it moved to the CCP and I got to see Tita Cherie Gil in Full Gallop. I got to see Wicked when my good friend Cat Juan Ledesma had an extra ticket because her brother got sick on the day. I saw Noises Off by Repertory last week.
Last year, I got to see The Producers, Nine, Piaf, Stageshow, Ballet Philippines’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 9 Works Theatrical’s They’re Playing Our Song, two different shows of Red (I obviously really loved that play and production), and three short plays in Virgin Labfest.
I love it that I’m watching more and more plays. I have always loved the theatre when I used to watch plays on Betamax tapes back in the 80s and my Dad would get them from America from friends or family who knew that my Dad is into that sort of thing and he always made us watch it. So it’s great that I’m actually getting more and more of a practical education by actually watching the plays rather than just reading them, like I used to.
My Dad and I have also been watching a lot of plays on DVD, productions that were recorded on video and we’ve been learning so much and I have been getting more and more of an understanding of the structural mechanics and how they differ from screenwriting.
It’s quite serendipitous because a friend had asked me to write a play with him. I never wrote one before and I find the whole exercise so challenging. I love being able to learn a totally new aspect of my craft.
I would love to be able to see, at some point in my life, that I’ve written everything — a movie, poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, a play, a song — because I don’t see myself as just one kind of writer. I am a writer and everything that the word entails.
And theatre is just amazing. Every aspect of it. It’s a totally different beast altogether. I’m so happy to be at this stage of my life where these things are taking centre stage (pun intended) in my day-to-day.