Saturday, August 2, 2008

Shirtless Theater Monologues

I first encountered acting when I was about to graduate from elementary. My Filipino teacher was organizing a play sponsored by a popular chocolate milk drink and they needed someone who looked malnourished enough to play the role of the child who just didn’t want to drink his milk. She asked me to run to her as if she was my mom. Apparently even that I couldn’t do convincingly and so the role went to someone else. Thank God, or so I thought.

In every high school in the country there is that English or Filipino teacher who just has to stage a play, a play which one way or another would involve that stereotypical boy whose main purpose in life is to be his father’s punching bag. Unluckily I always fit the bill. In my freshman year my English teacher asked me to audition, which I did. I managed to disappoint them with my “acting skills.” I got off the hook. For sophomore year the play was about cock fighting so I enjoyed a year of tranquility knowing that the organizers would not stoop so low as to dress someone like a chicken on a cockfight. And then came junior year.

Auditioning for a role is fun because you get the chance to disappoint people with your “acting” and get away unscathed, but what happens when your English teacher doesn’t ask you to audition and instead gives the role directly to you? What happens is you accept the role or take a chance on your grade. Acting wasn’t really my cup of tea and some of the actors on that play made sure I was aware of that. As for me everything was hell. I was trapped in something I never wanted to be in and people kind of hated me for it. I did it anyway but I didn’t know how I fared. It was over, end of story, whatever.


The next year I made sure it never happened again and so I was the first in line to join in the production of the play that year, as head of the sound effects and soundtrack. That I enjoyed and I could say I did well. That was where it all ended. Goodbye acting, I’ll never meet you again. Yeah, right.

What does it take for someone to break this vow and be the one to try it again without anything to gain from it? For me it is the left side of my brain. For almost all of my existence I’ve been trapped in what society refers to as “education,” that part of life where you conform to their norms and learn about everything that you could learn about the world in an institution called a school or a college or a university and keep on doing so until you approach your twenties. Unfortunately for me that bachelor’s degree has been nothing but elusive. What a bitch, I know. And so the left side of the brain got tired from all the solitary work and came up with an ultimatum: either you rev up activity in the right side and balance things out or we all end up in a mental institution. It seemed dead serious so I decided to oblige.

I was supposed to get that new PE class in Latin Dance. If there is any creative activity I want to engage in dancing would be it, ballroom, street dance, whatsoever! Unfortunately the CRS apparently adores the freshman population. Fuck you CRS. And so I ended up taking Theater 12 instead which is called Acting Workshop. While I would probably enjoy the tranquility I would get if I get locked up in a mental institution, a part of me says I don’t belong there, at least not yet, *wink, wink*.

The first activity is a monologue, the meaning of which you could search for at Google. Finding a monologue is easy but searching for one that interests you is quite difficult. I found a few interesting ones: psychotic stage actor, beach bum with tuberculosis, enraged emo student, and another one I already forgot. However, I did not feel comfortable yet so I decided to just find a monologue in Filipino. I found one in my brother’s literature book.

The character is a young convict mocking an old senile inmate about to be grilled on the electric chair the next morning. Yahoo, I finally graduated from the malnourished child roles, I’m a convict now! The character should only wear shorts, no shirt but full of tattoos. Yeah, right, as if the audience would know what the manuscript states. Shirtless my ass!

For the first performance I had for my costume a black sando and black shorts. I would say that the first performance was a success mainly due to the element of surprise. If you know me as a classmate or a colleague you would notice that I never speak to anyone unless I am spoken to first, and since only a few people dare to do so I always end up confined in a world of my own, disregarding the people around me as if they don’t exist. Because of that people stereotype me as the eerily silent anti-social, and then I suddenly play an acid-tongued convict with matching pahiga-higa on the floor and stuff.

The comments were surprisingly positive or maybe most of them just did not want to give negative critiques fearing that I might make lupasay on the floor and toss Monobloc chairs around, *hehehe*. My classmates are very kind people. Only one or two of them belong to Simon Cowell’s fan’s club.

Confirming the “element-of-surprise” theory was one comment which went something like: “Who are you and what did you do to Dorky Dan?” Just to make it clear the person did not make fun of me by calling me “dorky” because I was the one who initiated the use of that adjective in the first place. During the first day of class we had to introduce ourselves with an adjective, the first letter of which should coincide with the first letter or our names. “Diligent” seemed too self-righteous and downright paradoxical at the moment. A dorky personality does exist. Why should I not acknowledge it?

The costume was disappointing. Though my classmates agreed that I indeed looked like an authentic squatter (they were apologetic every time, hey guys no big deal!) the fact was that the costume seemed too bagong-gising-sa-squatter-ish rather than ­bagong-gising-sa-preso-ish. On the contrary I think the performance was good enough. It was harsh and they said the movements were natural. A funny comment was that I kept inserting so in almost every statement. Mahirap ang buhay sa squatter, tanda. So naglalabada ang nanay para kami makakain. So naisipan namin ni Ate Perla na magtinda ng sampaguita. So... How coño naman the preso.

I’m disappointed with my monologue replay. The only improvement was in terms of costume, or lack thereof. I decided to obey the manuscript. I shopped for fake tattoos and decided to go shirtless. OMG, I know. Shame, shame, but to justify the decision I really just wanted to look so preso for the repeat performance. The tattoos were amazing because they were just fake stickers but seemed too genuine. I was like Joaquin Bordado... on drugs *lol*.

My performance went downhill because of lack of motivation. Had the performance been the day before, I would have fared well because I was depressed and very wrathful. Unfortunately I’m not the depressed suicidal type who wallows on self-pity and slashes both wrists as a hobby whenever depression comes to visit. The next morning I usually wake up silently wrathful: that type of fury that you just can’t unleash but rages within.

Math hates me and I don’t give a flying fuck because the feeling is mutual. The result of the first Calculus exam was due that morning right before the repeat monologue. Perfect. Even if I knew I was able to answer all the questions in that exam I still thought I would flunk it. That would be a great motivation. Sorry to say I passed the freaking exam with flying colors. Mathematics really has a way of disappointing me. Because of that the silent wrath was replaced with hesitant glee (perfect timing... *tsk tsk tsk*.)

The repeat performance was more emo than preso and a single so still managed to surface. The preso was in a way still a coño but this time he was more emo and was a waif version of Joaquin Bordado. When I went back to my chair a classmate asked: Anong waistline mo? I answered probably less than 26 because my pants were already 26 but still loose. I was still reeling from my own dissatisfaction that I was not able to brag about how my prima donna thyroid glands won’t allow me to ever get fat.

Only a few commented. They really are a nice bunch, aren’t they? It was I who was really not pleased with my own performance. The perfect combination would have been the first performance and the lack of costume in the second one. Next stop would be Scenes-for-Two. I need something light.

4 creature/s gave a damn:

Anonymous said...

Si 'Pepe' ba yung role mo? :) Yung kinururyente sa 'ano'? Hehehe, I'm doing a role like that in a few weeks. I can't give much truthfulness about my voice and my facial expression. Nahihirapan ako. :(

ihcahieh said...

Hi @Anonymous - sorry hindi ko maalala yung name nung character! It's been three years, hahaha. Basta ang naaalala ko lang Vida ang title nung play. Sorry I can't give you any advice. I suck at acting, lol. =)

Anonymous said...

Hehe, I just came by this post around google when I was researching about my character. Anyway, magpeperform na ako in a few days. First time ko to do acting, in public! Haha. Anyway, salamat na rin! :)

ihcahieh said...

@Anonymous - Good luck! Kaya mo yan. =)

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