Saturday, November 19, 2005

God Only Knows . . .

We've just finished "First Snow of November" under the aegis of Entablado Filipino on Wednesday and Thursday and had a quick cast party last night.

I had the privilege of directing this show - and then acting on the second night. I just wish that the play was more open to the public - it would have been nice to win over a few more fans, hehe. Alas, the Saudi Aramco Employees' Association has very specific ideas as to whom they will make entertainment available.

Being onstage awakens so many vibrant and poignant memories. On the one hand, there is the thrill of doing a part well and being recognized for it. On the other, there is all the work that goes into it. Being in a play is, in so many ways, like preparing for life.

As a first-time director on a full-time basis (most of my other "directorial" work was simply patchwork), it was exhilirating to have a vision for a play and then see it unfold. It was fortuitous that the material wasn't even a choice. In life, there are things that my old mentor Bro. Vic used to call essential accidents - and there were some essential accidents that made it possible for me to direct the play:

--> That we had to re-schedule "Kulay Abo ang Madaling Araw," which ruined the timetable EnFil had to make this annual presentation.
--> That "Kulay Abo" was so tough on its cast and crew (including me) that there wasn't creative juice in the Juventation Machine for people to come forward in directing a play.
--> That Francis Sobrevega was so gung-ho about having his choice of script produced.
--> That Francis, for some reason, was reluctant to direct the play himself. He could have, and probably a better job at that, if I were asked that question.

I'm thankful for these essential accidents, for they provide the blessing for me to be part of this experience.

I'll just attach my e-mail of thanks to all the cast, crew, and organization staff...

* * * * *

A pleasant good morning to all!

I haven't shoveled a lot of "Thank you's" to all the people involved in "First Snow of November," but after last night's cast party, I was finally able to get a grip on what I wanted to say.

Thank you for making this first turn at the helm memorable. With all the lows and the highs, all of you members of the cast and crew have made this experience worthwhile and God willing, something I would look forward to repeat (though not so soon, let me recharge my batteries first).

To BoyM, have a safe trip and a wonderful vacation helping our swimmers in the SEA Games. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Working with you is an exercise in seeing humility and willingness to learn in action. By what you have done in this play, it just goes to show that the best is yet to come for everyone. You were always my first choice for Fil, just as soon as I had read the script. It's just one of those things, just like having a Ben Kingsley around when Richard Attenborough wanted to make "Gandhi."

To Lovell, thanks for bringing in your energy to the show and thanks for pulling us out of a tight spot when we couldn't find an actor to play Tony. Thanks for your workmanlike demeanor during practices, through all the brainstorming on how to shape your character. I was wondering if we had actually gotten you to channel Elvis for the role, but thank God we didn't. It would have ruined your natural take on Tony, which worked out just fine.

To Francis, thanks for being THERE. Yes, it was not necessarily great all the time, but your constant presence has made it possible to bring so many disparate elements together. You were the glue that held the show together --- and in all the hubbub, I for one wish I had appreciated your efforts more. We sorely missed you last night.

To the regulars of Enfil, thanks for according me the welcome which I yet have to earn. So, I still owe you. Your dedication to the craft is inspiring.

To Cynthia - the phrase I remember here is "every little thing she does is magic" in the words of Sting and the Police. To Arnold, Grace, and Precy, thanks for giving it your all in the dances, even though it was all so convenient to say "it can't be done in this short time!" Special thanks to Grace and her gift of song. Special mention to Arnold who danced through an injury, and to Precy who can probably dance the tinikling all night.

To the latik boys - Dhaz, Erwin, Rene (and Arnold again) - thanks for giving it your best and adding more life to the show. To Dhaz, who put it in his best on short rest, physically and emotionally. You're a real trouper. To Erwin, I understand your sharing the other night. I was in that same boat just a few weeks earlier. To Rene, thanks for putting in the small things.

To Direk Dennis and Romeo, once again, it has been a privilege working with you. This time, it feels a little strange being the bus driver for the show and you guys are among the passengers. Can't wait for the re-stage of "Kulay Abo ang Madaling Araw." Great dancing job by Romeo, and I've always known Direk Dennis to be a painstaking artist, and it was great seeing you work your magic on Lovell's make-up job.

And speaking of make-up... many thanks to our make-up artists for making us stand out on stage. Too bad you can't make me up to be thinner, hehe. Alas, even your artistry can't work miracles with my weight.

To our young dancers from IPSA, many thanks for putting forth your best effort despite the short practice time and changes in personnel. I feel I've shortchanged you a little by not being there during your rehearsals (there just wasn't enough of me to go around), but you came in ready and prepared during the show. My little secret to everyone is that you girls were the big question mark TO ME before the play. My reward is that my faith in you was warranted. We missed you and your parents last night too. My thanks to them for all their support.

And of course, to our choreographers, Ma'am Virgie and Arvin, for breaking down the dances and see them performed. Arvin, I know you were surprised to do native dances for this show, because your dance background is from the modern school. But I'm so very glad you went out on a limb and did it anyway. To Ma'am Virgie, who lent her expertise that resulted in two-dances-in-one.

To Arnold Villasis, who spent even the last days prior to his vacation being a big help to the artistic concept and execution of our souvenir program. The talent is one thing, but the willingness to go the extra mile was an even bigger contribution.

To our lightsmen for getting the job done on such a short learning curve. Thanks for lighting the way, literally, for us, during the play.

To our front-of-house personnel, thanks for doing an essential service. I wish you'd acted in this play, too (hehe, I'm sure some of our guys would appreciate that. Can't blame them at all, though). Bobby B, it's fun trading stories with you! I'd be honored to work with you should the right project come along.

To our other supporters, like Jojo and Oren, for covering the show - and being the essential part of every Filipino activity - the inevitable Kodak-an! To countless others who helped in the little things that made the play possible.

To Alfa and Wojtek, thanks for all the support - Enfil has gone on because of your drive on the one hand and nurturing on the other. I am honored to be part of the EnFil experience, and since you've set me up for the next two years as Vice-Chairman, we would be running into each other more often. You'll have to put up with me for just a little bit more time, I'm afraid, hahaha!

Thanks to all again, and this is the time to sign off, bye!..

You wouldn't think I'd forget about one piece of the show, right?

To the amazing and otherworldly talent of Rey, I'm reminded of this WWF commercial with two idiotic wrestlers saying, "WE are the CHAMPIONS! Everybody wants what we've got, because man, what we've got, is the BEST." I have to agree with Direk Gerry that you are one of the best guitarists we've seen. Bon voyage, and best of luck in the States.

To Raymond, thanks for being the crafter of all our sound effects. I read the script again on Thursday morning with an observer's eye and I realize that without the sound effects the play would have been DEAD. So, your contribution to the sounds has animated the play, truly.

To Sonny, thanks for being the benchmark of a stage player - the one that always asks questions, the one who works hard at doing his thing well and as perfect as possible, the one who looks for the little things to work on, the one who provides support to his fellow cast members. Also, the one most likely to make his director have a hissy fit. Yes, you're just the guy! I'm glad that you were part of this team.

And to Direk Gerry, for signing me up to this play like willing his estate to an unknown relative - and of course, for providing the material for one of the highlights of the show, it being a highlight because of its originality and charm. This is probably the first time this play has been performed, and I hope in future, should someone want to produce it, they would be inspired by our interpretation of the material and your unique contribution in the comedy skit.

While far from perfect, I'm pleased that the show went well. The jury is still out on how we really did (my critic's hat is not yet on), but in terms of our humanity, I would rate "First Snow of November" five stars.

And, by way of thanks, I'd like to share this Beach Boys classic (from summer of '66), which I unearthed during my research for the soundtrack of "First Snow..." Its lines sum up how I feel (with some pangs of regret), now that the show is done:

I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it

God only knows what I'd be without you

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me?

God only knows what I'd be without you
God only knows what I'd be without you

If you should ever leave me
Well life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me?

God only knows what I'd be without you
God only knows what I'd be without you

Thanks. God only knows what I'd be without you.

No comments: