Tonight, at 6:00PM at the Bulwagang Juan Luna of U.P. Baguio there will be no grand sets, no amazing lighting equipment, no state-of-the-art sound system.
I write this at past midnight, the early hours of Saturday, the day of the premiere of our latest production. Minutes ago, I was talking to my mother and her best friend on the other side of the world – they are both theatre artists too. They asked me about this play we’re opening later today, my mother talked about this play she’s currently working on, and her best friend talked about the last play she did. We talked about our struggles to get our stories on stage.
“Why are we doing this?” don’t we always end up asking ourselves this question? My mother’s best friend asked.
I have been giving myself the same answer for the past couple of decades or so, and yet I do find myself still asking the same question after each curtain call. There’s no money in this, but I just can’t help myself – I always find myself getting ready to tell the next story.
There’s something messianic about being a theatre artist, I cannot deny that. When I was much younger I believed that I was here to help provide an alternative to the inanities being fed to us by popular media. In recent years, I thought that there simply are stories out there that need to be told. Some might scoff at the idea that if I am able to make one man out of all the people in the auditorium start seeing things from a different perspective, open up his mind to new possibilities, provoke him to think, to act, make him cry, or laugh out loud, I would have been successful. Well, I don’t - I myself truly believe in that idea.
I won’t be getting much sleep tonight – the day starts at dawn tomorrow. After weeks of late night rehearsals, we start the day by hauling everything we need to tell this story to the performance space. We don’t have much time - we have to have everything set up by noon for we just couldn’t afford paying for just a little extra time to get ready to tell our story. Then my fellow storytellers will start arriving, start putting on their costumes, they will then get a feel of the three-dimensional space for the first time. They have to get their act ready before sunset, our audience will start arriving by then.
A bare stage, only the actors themselves will up that space, and we’ll do our best to light up that space. I hope our sound equipment will be enough to reach every single person in the theatre.
Tonight, I have nothing much to offer but a good story that I tried with all my heart to tell the best possible way I can. And if you happen to be one of those hiding in the darkness of the theatre when we tell our story, I hope you found it worth your while to listen.
And that is why.