Monday, November 08, 2004


"Theatre should provoke. Not to pander. People should leave the theatre wanting to fight, to jump, to fuck!"

- Orson Welles as played by Angus Macfadyen,

THE CRADLE WILL ROCK (1999, by Tim Robbins)

May Bayot steps into Nora Aunor's shoes as Elsa

Saw HIMALA The Musical last friday with friends. As usual, courtesy of the Japan Foundation, which has virtually sponsored 90% of the shows i've seen at the CCP (Rudy, take a bow, pare!).

Directed by veteran Soxy Topacio, written by Ricky Lee (who also wrote the original screenplay for the film in 1982), and music was by Vince de Jesus.

I was blown away by the set! It was an ingenious take on Cumpang, the town that Elsa and her visions turned into a holy frenzy. Since i've designed sets myself for a couple of other productions, I wouldn't have thought of this.

All the actors were amazing, and while May Bayot was praised to high heavens as Elsa, my heart goes to Chayong played by Cynthia Culig-Guico. She has just the right temperament and character to suit the very difficult role of Chayong, Elsa's best friend, shadow and eventually, the symbol of her very failure (as a person? as a visionary? Could be both).

My friend Jerome was right in saying that what makes this theatre version just as amazing as the film was, it was bristling with disdain for the hypocrisy of the religious, as well as the tendency of the Filipino people to take advantage of certain circumstances to benefit themselves.

Veteran Soxy Topacio directs

Lars von Trier's DOGVILLE (Nicole Kidman,Harriet Andersson, Lauren Bacall) comes to mind immediately when i think of HIMALA. This film, now a play, really is all about the Filipino society in the same way that DOGVILLE is a mirror of America as a society. HIMALA is everything that we are, capable of being or funny enough, it's something that we are afraid to become, even.

Writer Ricky Lee

It is very interesting to note that Cumpang's pre-vision status is something akin to what we have now - wisespread poverty, hunger (imagined or not), lawlessness, people losing hope.

Is the time ripe for another Elsa?

I wonder.

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