I was never the type to remember famous lines from a movie or a play. But I love visual media just the same.
A couple of weekends ago, Mother surprised me with four balcony tickets to a play which a friend produced and invited me to watch. The title of the play is “Bona” which was a theater adaptation of a Lino Brocka film of the same title, starring no less than the superstar Nora Aunor. Lino Brocka is probably the greatest, deepest, most talented Filipino film director of all time. I am no film critique but he just happens to be in a league of his own when it comes to local film-making.
The play stars the famous comedienne Eugene Domingo. So yes, her starring in this one was a big come on. And the fact that there’s gotta be loads of comic relief since she’s the lead. I’m a huge fan of comedy and Filipino humor. Once in my youth, I had written a musical comedy for secondary school. It was difficult to write comedy, and the result wasn’t really super funny. So there, reason number one is comedy and a pressing need for laughter.
Number two reason is the venue. The play was shown at the PETA Theater. PETA is short for Philippine Educational Theater Association. PETA is close to my heart. I grew up attending their theater workshops and watching their plays, because my mother worked closely with their organization. I never showed real talent for the performing arts but participating in plays and all sorts of performances when I was young are fond memories of my youth.
So I stepped into the theater casually dressed. I came with my brother, cousin and aunt. We arrived just in time for a toilet break and find our seats before the show started. The PETA Theater is no CCP, it was very casual, we sat in plastic monobloc chairs, mind you. It provided the perfect atmosphere for watching a funny play.
To my surprise, the play was only half-funny. It had dramatic and tragic twists towards the end. Eugene Domingo was great. She was funny and serious, seriously funny, funnily serious, funnily dramatic. I actually felt a bit tired for her, because she was acting onstage for hours straight. But her title role for this one really earned her the merits of an actress. Imagine, she was reprising the role of a Nora Aunor!
As I said, I am no critic, I wouldn’t go into the plot or other details of the play. I would want to keep insights to myself, exactly like a precious little secret. Watching it was my birthday gift, by the way, and I did enjoy it like a three-year old getting his first remote-controlled toy.
So yes, tickets to a play is one of the coolest birthday gifts I’ve ever had. It felt so therapeutic watching it. Laughing at the funny lines, being wowed by actors’ performances. Watching plays is something people should do to keep their sanity.
I actually plan on making this a tradition. To watch at least one locally produced play each year, in support of the barely surviving theater industry. And tag my friends along each time. All for a worthwhile, comedic, dramatic cause.