When in Manila, particularly in Quezon City, you’d be quite surprised to find this tall white building situated in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood. Believe it or not, when I discovered this after an evening of exercising in QC Sports Club, I was ecstatic! I thought with PETA Theater Center here, I don’t have to go all the way to CCP or Meralco Theatre to soothe my cultural cravings.
It was my first time to be in PETA Theater Center to watch William, a Filipino rap musical, last Friday. Since last Friday was August 19, the thought of filling myself with Filipino art and music was the perfect way to celebrate Araw ng Wika (Language Day).
On the stage was a portrait of William Shakespeare and stacked up chairs that provided some depth and leveling. “So, William Shakespeare is the William we are talking about here!” My friend who was obviously surprised continued, “But how is this going to be a rap musical?” I only smiled; So there I was, seated behind throngs of highschool students anticipating how the fusion of classical rhythm of words and contemporary beats of percussion works.
I myself was clueless.
The story of William opens with students getting stressed and worried over an assignment they have to do for their English class. They have to make a report on the classic English poet William Shakespeare in front of their terror-teacher. (I know how that feels like, having my own terror-teacher in highschool! I’m just glad that now I’m able to look back and laugh, rather than look forward and dread about it.)
The set of characters in this PETA Shakespeare Rap Musical is very rich. There is the nerdy girl who can memorize everything for her report. There is the heartthrob jock. There is the histrionic new-rich. There is the calm go-with-the-flow guy. There is the charismatic leader. I’m sure that despite the few number of students in this class, the audience can easily relate to at least one of them. All of them can dance to the beat, rap to he rhythm. It’s quite a fun and refreshing way of enlightening the audience about William Shakespeare.
I applaud the actor who plays the father of the students. He is able to shift easily and believably to a new persona each time he wears a different colored shirt and talks to a different child. He is a sensitive and loving father to the nerdy Estela. He is a strong and aggressive father to the bully and jock TJ. He is the excited rich daddy to the muse Sophia.
Each student talks about the works of William Shakespeare. Each tries to relate to the emotions in Shakespeare’s piece. One learns self-acceptance through “The Merchant of Venice.” Another learns about beauty in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Others have learned about forgiveness, humility and grace through William Shakespeare’s other masterpieces. They also make his words come out to life through fun and contemporary beats.
Seeing how these ordinary highschool students find meaning in Shakespeare’s works is truly inspiring! It makes me want to grab my long-forgotten Hamlet and Othello books from my own bookshelf. I surely hoped that the Philippine Educational Theater Association produced William years earlier so that I could have read more of Shakespeare and aced my english class!
So if you would like to see Shakespeare break-it-down when in Manila, drop by PETA Theater Center!
May thou enjoy!
Directed by: Maribel Legarda
Written by: Ron Capinding
Play Dates: August 19-21, 26-28,September 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 2011
Show Times: 10:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.
Venue: PETA Theater Center, located at No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City.
Tickets: Php350 (regular) and Php500 (vip).