Shakespeare on a Sunday. Doesn’t really sounds a hype of fun isn’t it? Would you rather go shopping on a Sunday or choose just like what I did, to Shakespeare on a Sunday? Sounded more like of an ice cream flavour to me at first but yeah I was actually referring to the master of rhythm, William Shakespeare. The only thing I had in mind when I got invited to watch this was- “This rather be good else I’d still hate Shakespeare, with a capital H”. Pretty sure a lot of people can relate to me if I’d say I am not a Shakespeare fan. Remember when we were kids and our mothers’ keeps on asking us to eat vegetables over hotdogs? I’d rather read an Archie comics than grab a Shakespeare book before.
When I got invited by PETA to watch WILLIAM, I was thrilled! I kept an open mind before seeing the play. First off, I was thrilled that this is produced by PETA. I think that the Philippine Educational Theatre Association is such an amazing performing arts body, though most oftentimes understated. I brought along the big C aka curiosity as I learned that its latest production, ‘WILLIAM’ is a re-invention of Shakespeare through Rap, Hip-hop and Flip-top beats. So I say I’d have to be ready for another ‘Glee’ or ‘High School Musical’ genre.
The Philippine Educational Theatre Association (PETA) on its 44th Theatre Season produced WILLIAM. A modern and educational play that reintroduces Shakespeare and his classical works.
Plot was really simple. It follows the story of a group of school kids and their terror teacher who wants them to appreciate the themes explored in Shakespeare’s literary works. All of the kids resists at first but tends to warm up in the end to Shakespeare unexplainable charm.
Written by Ron Capinding and directed by PETA Artistic Director Maribel Legarda, “William” familiarizes the young generation with the beauty of Shakespeare’s works and using rap rhythm and hip-hop beats. Indeed it’s a hard core poetry for Shakespeare’s works, but since its objective is its re-invention, the play had today's genre of rap hits, which are based on beats, rhythm and rhyme. Long before we already learned that William already infused themes of power, greed, and of course love, adorned with violence and betrayal.
PETA Artistic Director Maribel Legarda says, “I brought in rap and hip-hop as the contemporary voice and language of young people today.” She had high hopes that Shakespeare’s poetry and the rap of today’s generation would somehow meet in one point and result into an efficient and effective dialogue and drama. Legarda is the same woman behind the musical dramedy Care Divas.
William’s’ characters represent the usual High School stereotypes. You may even find it easy to relate to each one of them. Anyway if you did, that means that the play was effective right?
The character of Ms. Lugarda Martinez, as the terror teacher who is passionate about English and Shakespeare. Her patience was put to test by her rowdy class.
Erwin, the introvert boy in class finds his voice and courage in Julius Ceasar.
Sophia, the pretty but not so smart lass realizes the true meaning of beauty in Romeo & Juliet.
TJ, the athletic bad boy stumbles upon humility in Hamlet.
Richard, the witty student leader learns to accept oneself (as he is gay) in Merchant of Venice.
Estela, the honourable student finds the light to forgive her OFW mother who abandoned her when she was young. She was able to finally let go of the hatred and anger that ate her up for so long.
They may have been of different groups, but all of them tussle to understand Shakespeare himself and of course his works. One finds his poetry tough to understand, another one is just simply bored with the totality of the subject, and the others just don't find meaning in studying William Shakespeare. Their being lax and their insolence in the subject made their terror teacher madder than ever and had them punished by having them to present a scene of a Shakespearean play. Totally made things worse for them! During this course, the students were able to appreciate Shakespeare’s works by learning that their individualities and life stories are parallel to them.
Scenes are well-rehearsed aside from the fact that the costumes are scene stealers. Colour blocking fashion trend is still in and it sure do looks good on stage! The characters delivered their lines well, to think that they have to rap in almost 80% of the play.
I felt light-hearted when I went out of the theatre. I think every audience was also able to relate with every character, it successfully depicted a typical Filipino life. I might have hated Shakespeare before but like the students in the play, I would’ve also learned that Shakespeare is not just a literary icon, but is also an eye-opener to discover the actual worth of oneself.
Director: Maribel Legarda
Writer: Ron Capinding