Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

12/23/2005

Man of La Mancha: Live Entertainment at its best

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

LIGHTS dim. Red velvet curtains part. The audience falls into a sudden hush.

This is the silence that comes before the opening of any theatre production-- the breath held in anticipation of something wonderful unfolding right before their eyes. This is the magic of theatre.

Theatre has had a long history of capturing the human drama (or comedy as it sometimes can be). This art form appears in all cultures – Chinese, Hindu, Egyptian or the ever-familiar English. Indeed, it continues even to this day and right in our backyard.

Tucked away inside Onstage Theatre at the second floor of Greenbelt 1’s aged fa├žade lies a golden treasure of entertainment. From the months of January to April and August to December, this 800-seater venue plays host to the country’s premiere English language theatre company.

During these months, any soul brave enough to step into unfamiliar territory will be treated to delights that come once in a lifetime courtesy of Repertory Philippines. Repertory Philippines is a not-for-profit professional theatre company that is already running on its 39th year. During this time, they have a built a strong reputation for producing quality plays that capture their audience’s hearts and keeps them coming back for more.

Most would consider theatre as the highest high of entertainment. On stage, there is only the actor and his audience. Cue cards and second chances will be conspicuously absent. Anything can, and literally does happen underneath those heated spotlights. But, theatre’s greatest gift is its ability to engage the audience’s imagination. While elevated on those wooden planks, there are no digital effects or stunt doubles (even kissing scenes can be a rarity). Nevertheless, any good actor makes use of the old adage that every woman keeps in mind, “Less is more.”

This is no more evident than in Repertory Philippines’ most recent offering, “Man of La Mancha,” staged in memory of one of their founders Zenaida “Bibot” Amador (d. 2004). This 2-hour play within a play asks the audiences to journey along with Miguel de Cervantes as he tries to avoid injury from his fellow prisoners during the Inquisition by telling the story of Alonso Quijana, an aging landowner who insists on calling himself Don Quixote and sallies forth fighting monsters of his own making in pursuit of his impossible dream.

The audience is asked to believe that paper facades really are the dark dungeons of the Inquisition and that men draped in cloth are horses being ridden by Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, his faithful squire. The audience will go on a journey that will challenge their very definition of madness. In the words of the man of La Mancha himself, “… perhaps to be practical is madness. And maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not how it ought to be.”

And so, while waiting for the next big box office hit, take a quiet furtive stroll to Greenbelt 1 to check out Repertory Philippines’ next season offerings. Who knows? It might just lead you to your own impossible dream.

(Tickets are available at the Greenbelt 1 lobby. Reserve early, good productions are apt to be sold out days before the play dates.)

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