Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Of Ducks And Revolutions

It was around December of 1985, and for the first time in my life, I was cast in a lead role. I was to play Prince Simon in A. A. Milne’s one-act comedy, “The Ugly Duckling.” I personally made a big deal out of it. Although I was slowly coming to terms with the fact that my face and height didn’t make me “leading man material,” I wished that more directors would cast against type. I was so happy to have made lead, until I read the synopsis (like the following from Good

Arrangements have been made for Prince Simon to marry Princess Camilla. The King and Queen are nervous because—let’s face it—Camilla is plain. It is decided that the Princess’ beautiful maid will impersonate Camilla until the wedding. The Prince hears of Camilla’s beauty and, considering himself rather plain, has his extremely handsome manservant Carlo impersonate him. Simon and Camilla meet by chance and fall in love. Each is beautiful to the other and they live happily ever after.

So much for casting against type, I thought. Still, it is a lead role.

“The Ugly Duckling” was one of three one-act plays for our year-end production. We rehearsed all throughout Christmas break, and by the end of January we were almost ready for our opening night scheduled around the last week of February. But then Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel V. Ramos withdrew their support for President Marcos and holed themselves up in Camp Aguinaldo. Thus began the People Power Revolution of 1986.

At the start, no one knew just how long the standoff between the Pro-Cory and Pro-Marcos forces would last. We couldn’t reschedule the dates because of the venue’s availability. We were in a quandary. Should we push through with the performances or not? Some members of the cast and crew preferred to drop the plays and instead join the gathering crowd in EDSA. Others felt that we should continue with the performances, lack of audience be damned. The compromise? We had one invitational performance for the families and friends of the cast and crew.

After that one and only performance, I went with the school contingent to EDSA and helped man our outpost near Greenhills. The rest is history.

Cut to 26 years later.

D was proudly telling me of the time when his class won over-all best production in their high school theater competition. Each class interpreted the same one-act piece; D directed, designed, and acted in their production.

He described his role and the play in general: a plain but witty princess, a plain but smart prince, and switched identities. Wait a minute. Could it be? Is it she? Sacrébleu!

“Hon, was your play entitled ‘The Ugly Duckling’?” I asked.

“Yeah! ‘The Ugly Duckling’ or ‘Princess’ or something like that,” he replied, excited. “You know that play?”

“Not only do I know the play,” I replied, “I also played the same role you played!”

D’s eyes widened. “OMG! You also played the prince?!” (“Hindi, yung prinsesa!” sana ang sinagot ko sa kanya.)

That night, D was so kilig.


Nhil said...

I never knew you love theater (well, that's probably because it's my first time here. or second? hah)

I envy you, though. I haven't been blessed to play any lead role YET. There's always someone taller, someone bulkier and more flawless than me. But I'm still crossing my fingers for future casting.

Nice post, by the way. :)

joelmcvie said...

@NHIL: Yes, I love the theater, and I do miss being onstage.

Thanks for dropping by twice. Drop by more often, if you like. =)

Xander said...

Yun pala yung ginawa nyong play! Nabasa ko na 'to dati. Gusto kong role yung King or yung Minister hahaha

-- Xander

joelmcvie said...

@XANDER: Thank god for Google. Had someone asked me before, I wouldn't be able to recall neither title nor author of the play, hahaha.