So, the play had its closing show last Sunday. It was a matinee and we had a talk back with our audience. We were all feeling so good because we had a successful second weekend. All the shows for the second weekend were sold out. Every ticket sold. People clamoured for more so we put up mono block chairs at the back row and told people that they were available and people bought them anyway. The word of mouth from the first week caught people’s curiosity and they wanted to see what the show was about. So we ended up with a home run on our last weekend.
It was such an amazing feeling to have made a great impact and to be a part of something that people really came to watch and the majority of people’s feedback has been more than just positive. They were moved — to tears, to laughter, to reflection, to empathy — and we never imagined we would reach out at that level to our audience.
We were so happy to announce, at the end of our talk back session, that we have a go signal for an extension. We are opening two more days so that No Filter can accommodate more people and those who want to see it again, this time with the other cast.
When we set out to do this, or at least when I set out to do this, we were thinking of putting up a play of monologues and we were thinking it was going to take is two years minimum to reach a sort of final version of a play. From my understanding of our initial talks with our director and producer, Toff de Venecia, that this was going to be a work-in-progress; a piece that was going to take its time to evolve and that we were going to allow it to grow and develop into a full-fledged play.
We reached out to collaborators amongst our friends and people within our network — from the backstage crew, to the actors, to the writers — to form the team to embark on this journey with the simple goal of putting up a show that would probably make for good theatre because, c’mon let’s face it, the whole idea of millennials is rife for dramatic and comedic moments that would probably do well in theatre. We set out to do a show as a jumping off point towards the development of a fully-realised play.
Over the course of six weeks, with everybody pouring their heart and soul into every moment, we ended up with something that we didn’t even expect. All our writers shared with us the full extent of their artistry and their souls and submitted (or allowed us to use) these amazing pieces that would make up our monologue series. Our actors threw themselves completely into the process and were able to unearth more and more meaning in the words and tried out different ways with which to bring the words to life. Toff’s visionary direction allowed everyone to chime in and enhance each segment of the play and when we got to RCBC to do our technical rehearsals, I remember walking up to Toff and telling him, “Toff, this is a play. This is a full-fledged production. This isn’t the first part of a work-in-progress. We all brought it to something beyond that.”
We opened No Filter in July 25, with a press preview in July 24 and the audiences came, bit by bit, but they left having been affected in such a way that the word spread and by our second week, we had a full house every night.
The response has been amazing, our team has gotten so close, it hurts when we aren’t together, and we’ve all grown as artists and as people.
And now, we have two more days to share what we’ve been able to put together for people.
I had no idea we were going to reach out and touch people’s lives the way we have over the course of two weekends. That was something that was beyond my ability to predict. My expectations was just to learn the whole process of being in a play, of working on something new and original, and working with new people and learning from them and sharing with them what I know.
I was going to do everything within my capacity (and job description) to make the show as great as it could be and just hope that we had something that would at the very least entertain, and hopefully, inspire some sort of feeling from our audience.
But as the work started to come in and our cast began bringing them to life during rehearsals, I raised my expectations that we had a chance to at least inform or create a sense of empathy. That was what I was hoping we could do. I wanted people to be able to reflect and to consider who they are and what they are. I really thought the only people who were going to come were millennials and there would be enough for two weekends.
And then we opened the show and the feedback was just tremendous. People who fell into the millennial demographic felt less alone. People who were way above that age range, parents, said that it made them understand their children better. One of my favourite comments from a parent was, “It makes me want to be a better parent.”
I feel like we’ve achieved more than what we set out to do; or maybe others had grander ambitions, but I didn’t. I don’t know if I was a cynic or a pessimist or I just didn’t realise how powerful what we’ve put together really was. We had so much fun working together that it never felt like work. Yes, we were tired and exhausted and we stretched ourselves to our limits but we always had fun and we got so much closer and we bonded so much that it didn’t feel like work; not for me, anyway. We just loved what we were doing and we were just throwing our hearts and souls into it and we all know that theatre doesn’t pay much. We were all doing this for the sake of and in this world where success equals profits (an ugly frame of thinking, if you ask me), I didn’t think that we would go beyond my meagre expectations.
But we did. And we’re just so happy that we did that. That we were all part of something that touched people somehow and that we made them laugh and cry and feel something. We made them think, which is not something that is easily done any more and not on your first try.
Or maybe I’m just not used to this. I love T’yanak and Sonata and I love that those films have my name on them and I love what people who have seen it have to say about those two films that I wrote. But as much as I love these two and know they are good and know that it has touched people’s hearts, there’s always this bit of sadness that it never got seen. But people are clamouring and asking to see No Filter. We filled up the RCBC Carlos P. Romulo theater for a whole weekend and we are doing two more shows to accommodate the ones who didn’t get to see it.
I am so proud to be a part of something like that.
As an artist, I have always wanted to be a part of something like that. It’s the dream, really. I’ve said many times, as long as my work gets to touch and change one person’s life for the better then I am happy. I’ve done my job. But now, to know that I’m part of a production that is changing so many lives, I can’t help but feel so amazing. My heart is so full.
This is far beyond what I set out to do and I did it.
I didn’t even know I was killing myself working on something that is worth doing. It was worth doing for me because I knew I was going to grow. I didn’t realise it was worth doing for other people as well. I didn’t know I was going to be a part of something that was going to affect so many people’s lives.
And I’ll be able to carry this with me until I’m gone and beyond that if this show manages to maintain it’s relevance and strength over the years. And I think it will, because it’s a clear, defining record of what it is like nowadays for people of this age and of this mindset. No Filter has been called raw and honest and so it will survive.
Because, I believe, you study history to find out how the winners remember the past. History is written by the winners. You want the truth about the past? You study literature.
No Filter is extended and will run at the RCBC Carlos P. Romulo theater on August 7 (Friday) at 8pm and August 8 (Saturday) at 7pm. Call 0917-8996680 for ticket reservations.