08 February 2007

ten sticks for the cast of dogeaters

Set in the politically unstable Marcos-ruled Philippines, Dogeaters follows the lives of several characters living in the 1980s. The novel was penned by Jessica Hagedorn and now brought to the stage once again by Director Jon Lawrence Rivera and a brilliant cast and crew. Read on as five actors share their views about the play and about themselves. Many thanks to Antoine Reynaldo Diel, Elizabeth Pan, Fran de Leon, Giovanni Ortega, and Kennedy Kabasares.

Catch Dogeaters at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Last day is on February 11 so get your tickets. Call that friend who decided not to go and cop that free (if you beg for it) ticket!

Antoine Reynaldo Diel

Of all the roles that you play in Dogeaters, which one do you love playing the most?
I really enjoy playing Romeo Rosales because eventhough he only has 3 scenes in the show it's a complete arch of a character.

What's next for you when the play ends?
Currently working on a singing project with the 3 Filipino Tenors and possibly an album.

Elizabeth Pan

Who's your favorite character in the play?
My favorite character in the play? I guess it would have to be Perlita. He's funny, mean, cheap, flamboyant but with a heart of gold. He is smart enough to put on this persona of a drag queen but is secretly a Communist rebel operative. Fascinating!

Besides being an actress, what other talents do you have?
Other talents? Whew, that's a hard question! I actually was on my way to becoming a corporate yuppie MBA and worked in that world for a while before chucking it all to become a starving actor. So I guess I would have been good at that. I don't cook all that much but when I do, it's pretty good and I have friends that swear by my cooking. I can speak fluent Mandarin and am very adept at putting together IKEA furniture.

Fran de Leon

What's your favorite scene in the play?
As far as favorite scene, I have favorite snippets! I love pretty much every scene Kennedy Kabasares is in. He plays Pedro, the houseboy in Studio 54, along with some other characters throughout the play. He does such an amazing job with hardly any words spoken, but his presence speaks volumes and portrays a class in Filipino society that is so often overlooked.

I also love the transitions we do when we change the sets. Jon Rivera did such a fabulous job choreographing those set changes, making them fluid, almost like a dance. After Daisy’s rape scene, we change the benches from an interrogation room to a bloody bed. One actor lifts her limp body up, the rest of us move the benches, another actor comes out with the sheet drenched in blood, then Daisy is placed back on the bed. It’s a true theatrical moment. For me, it also represents the ensemble that we have created. We all have to work together to make it work, everyone’s step is as important as the next.

Where can you get the best Filipino food in Southern California?
Best Filipino food (other than my Mom, of course!)
Salo Salo in Glendale
Nanay Gloria in the Valley

Giovanni Ortega

If you were living in 1980s Manila, who do you think you'd be or who would you like to be?
I was still in the Philippines in the 80's, I left in 89' at 12 years old, but if I was older, I would like to be in the position of a GMA newscaster who witnessed and reported all the changes in Manila during this pertinent time; from the assassination of Senator Aquino to the rise of the people Power to the presidency of Corazon Aquino. As I recall from young age, this was a very dangerous and different time for our people. My father was involved in the People Power and I would see his distress during this time.

Why should everyone, Filipino and non-Filipino, watch Dogeaters?
For one, any Filipinos should see this because it is a look into the experiences of our people. As it is FICTION, the stories are loosely based on real characters and events, with the exception of Mrs. Imelda Marcos. Therefore ANY Filipino, whether they be Immigrants or Fil-Am will relate to this story.

For non-Filipinos, it is an introspective look to a nation in turmoil and how its citizens deal with their situation. "Dogeaters, " can be easily transposed to any country who's had political turmoil in their land. Without naming specific places, many situations in the story are relative to what's going in other countries who have dealt with dictatorship in the past and the present. It's also about re-connection to being displaced, of finding home and coming back home. To coin the phrase,"Home is where the heart is."

Kennedy Kabasares

You play a handful of roles in the play. How do you prepare for each show?
To prepare for each show, first of all, I make sure I am well rested.

Once I enter the theater, I leave all my day's issues/problems/excitements at the door. My head has to be in the game, so for the few hours I am in the theater, everything going on in my life outside (both good and bad) has to be minimized. The only thing I am thinking about is the show at hand.

Theater is very physical, so I make sure my voice and body are warmed up. In addition to physical warm-ups, I go through a sort of "ritual" of checking my props or costumes (checking costumes is really important in Dogeaters, since I play five characters, one of which comes back later on in the play), walking the stage, pacing in the aisles, and maybe some silly things I do just for myself.

Can you relate to any of the characters in the play and how?
I would say that I relate to Rio, because when I go back to the Philippines, even though I am visiting family, I still feel like an outsider.

See interviews of Dogeatersauthor Jessica Hagedorn, cast members Esperanza Catubig, Liza Del Mundo, Giovanni Ortega, and TDRZ Productions' Ted Benito on Kababayan LA with Janelle So. Click here to view the streaming videos.

Photo credits Center Theatre Group

Posted by ilovesecondhandsmoke @ 10:59 PM