Thursday, November 01, 2007

Acts in Prose

This should have been datelined much earlier, but I have had only so much time to post an entry just recently.

The pic I posted is the promo shot I did for our production "Haplos ng Panahon" under Entablado Filipino for which I directed the "Sandaling Tagpo" segment and did the lighting. It was not a box-office success --- we struggled with venue issues and by the time we secured one, it was too late to sell too many tickets.

"Haplos ng Panahon" was staged at Al Waha South in Dhahran, within the Saudi Aramco main camp. The production did score well with the audience who were normally used to the melodrama we served up in previous productions. I believed that our audience would respond that way --- but still, there were tense moments all the way.

We did two plays back-to-back for "Haplos ng Panahon" - "Sandaling Tagpo" by Jose Victor Torres and "Sa Huling Gabi ng Palabas" by Rolando dela Cruz. Both were third-place winners for One-Act Play in Filipino at the Palanca Awards. My SPA-TDG colleague and friend Gerry L was the one who pushed for "Sandaling Tagpo": he was so enamored with the script that he translated it into English. He sold me on the idea of the play so many months ago but I had to turn down the English version - it read well, but since the first version was in Taglish already doing the play in straight English, would, I felt, rob the dialogue of some of its nuances.

The play is about a university professor of "retirable" age who comes face-to-face with one of his most gifted students after more than a decade of being apart. He has recently been asked to retire in order to avoid the scandal of a sexual harassment suit. But there's the rub: he hasn't exactly been innocent, even before, and his replacement has more than just a few stories of her own ...I liked the play mostly because it was multi-layered - the lines had so many possible interpretations my own personal take on it would have spelled one direction or the other --- it did help that Gerry was a true student of acting and that he was really into the play, and that the lead actress was a newcomer and thus was tabula rasa --- a clean slate that we could work magic on.

This production is special to me because of the many dramas that came before it was even produced --- the first a small misunderstanding which led to a major flare-up between me and one of my colleagues in SPA-TDG, the second an even deeper problem which threatened the integrity of our organization, of which I wasn't even aware until the so-called aggrieved came forward with their complaints. This whole chain of events was painful to me that it made me doubt whether I have the proper leadership skills to lead our organization.

Eventually, the truth came to light and it was all sorted out --- I still can't get over how gossip could run people and organizations. With our group that is so small this could happen, how badly can things go on a macro level?

I haven't been myself since that issue --- actually it's been sort of a struggle to regain the momentum I lost since before I left for my vacation in June. I haven't posted as I had wanted --- I started a few things about the Erap conviction and subsequent pardon, the Glorietta bombings, and so many other things on the world scene.

Maybe I'm burned out. Maybe I need to stop and reassess where I want my life to go. I'm more than thankful so many people stood by me and gave me the support I needed --- while I wouldn't want to thank my adversaries, I feel they owe some props as well. They certainly made these last few weeks another life-defining milestone.

Or maybe I have looked more inward, somewhat unhealthily, instead of focusing on things at hand and what I could do. The whole premise of "Sandaling Tagpo" was that love is not a fleeting thing, that it defines people, however flawed they may be. Oftentimes we do grow up and find that the people whom we put on pedestals are fallen idols, but time and forgiveness reveal to us that the lens that we examine the world is the one shaped by those people we have grown with --- the very people who scarred us, and at the same time, molded us into what we are today.

Life imitates art imitates life -- we define our acts, and our acts define us. Where one ends and the other begins --- that's a story for another day.

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