Incredibly late post, but here are some photos I took from when I was a part of Tanghalang Pilipino’s Sandosenang Sapatos, one of the most fun shows I’ve ever done to date.
Sharing stories in between shows.
Our pianist, Alex, trying to freak us out.
Trixie and (the!) Ms. May Bayot
With Doc Luis Gatmaytan, the author of the novel.
Lastly, with Direk Tuxqs Rutaquio!
It all started with a completely random phone call from Toff, the director of Dani Girl. It was a stay-home-stay-stinky day, and my deep existential contemplation session was (thankfully) interrupted. Instinctively, I knew that an interesting conversation was about to happen. He explained to me that he was already getting things moving for The Sandbox Collective, his own theatre company, the idea of which he had only just discussed with me in passing a mere month or two ago. (If there’s someone who tops my list of people who get shit done it’s Toff.) He then asked me if I was willing to do costumes for Dani Girl, the company’s maiden production. I really wanted to do it, but there were a few things troubling me. I was going to be juggling this with 4 other responsibilities: my marketing job, a musical for Megaworld’s 25th anniversary, Sandosenang Sapatos, and preparing for a Cinemalaya shoot. Of course, this thought only crossed my head for a split second before I decided I didn’t give a fuck and gave a lightning-fast no-brainer yes. Anyway, I thought, it’s a 4 person cast, it should be perfectly manageable.
I was totally wrong. When I read the script, I fell in love with it, but was also somewhat alarmed to find out that not only did one cast member have to play 13 other roles, but these roles were fantastical/sci-fi characters, each one drastically different from the rest. On cue, the pressure of singlehandedly costuming a professional show slithered into my gut and decided to rest its butt there. Still, in the greater scheme of things, I didn’t care. I felt afraid and too inexperienced for this. I literally had no idea how I was going to pull this off. But I was also completely and totally ready to grab this challenge by the balls.
The process was simultaneously grueling and rewarding. Thankfully the team liked all the initial ideas I presented during our brainstorming sessions (and actually, almost all of the initial ideas everyone discussed were what we stuck with, because they all kind of fit together in a weirdly serendipitous way.) But gosh, I remember those loooong 2 months so well. I was constantly worrying about finding the time to work on the costumes. In between rehearsal days (I had 2 rehearsals in 1 day; one in the morning and one shortly after after until night) I would be scouting for garments or materials, and those same nights I would be on all fours on the floor until wee hours in the morning, painting, sewing, gluing. I kept joking to myself that there wasn’t a day that I wasn’t bent over on the floor, smeared with some kind of craft-making substance. Being a major multitasker in college prepared me for situations like this, but many nights I felt insecure and worried about my amateurism amidst the deadlines and the durability required of the costumes. I found myself fighting to pull myself together by the last thread. My behavior was affected and I was always blatantly overcompensating, out of sorts, and simultaneously trapped in my head and all over the place because I felt really insecure about myself. (I especially remember it affecting my performance during the Cinemalaya shoot, but that’s a whole other story.)
I kept pushing, because if there’s one thing that always amazes me about theatre, it’s that in the end, things will always find a way to work out, and the show always will manage to go on. I knew that one day the show would be running, and everything that was once so difficult or problematic would be ready and going smoothly, and it would hit me that I did it; that we freaking made it happen– and it would feel cathartic as hell. True enough, that moment did happen. It hit me: damn, little ol’ me pieced together all those fantastical costume pieces that were not only durable, but had to accommodate quick changes as well. But I swear to whatever higher beings are out there, I would never have been able to do it without the amazing set of people in my Sandbox family who helped me (like literally helped me make the costumes) and most importantly, believed in me and trusted me.
When Toff called me up and asked me to do the costumes for Dani Girl, I knew I had to do it no matter what because I knew I was in for an amazing, magical experience. I was beyond right. Working on Dani Girl, as I wrote in a mushy Instagram post, made me learn and grow so much. It taught me to have the strength to believe in myself despite the pain of my shortcomings. It let me pour my heart out in both laughter and tears, fight about something, fight FOR something, imagine, create, tell a story, break, learn, touch lives, and be touched BY lives.
Dani Girl, the musical play in itself, inspired me to never doubt what the child in my eyes saw, and what the child in my heart felt, despite reality and everyone else telling me to give up in the guise of getting “real.” It enforced my belief in crazily chasing my dreams and the things that make me happy, because even if I may not succeed in the end, the amazing journey and growth I would go through would already be a great success. It reminded me to keep questioning, doubting, fighting, exploring the uncomfortable, because it would somehow lead me to the truth, if not new truths. Above all else though, it really made me want to be a much braver and stronger person.
I really needed Dani Girl. I knew going through this journey would do me some real good. It went beyond making me feel better about myself. In fact, it did the opposite– but in a way that I needed the most. Not only did it show me that I’m capable of achieving so much more than I can imagine of myself, it also showed me many negative traits that I’ve been keeping and insecurely defending for so long, that urgently need changing. More importantly, it let me feel the pain of hitting the jagged-edged rock bottom of my character and self-perception— but this time, it was so bad that it made me tell myself “GURL QUIT RUBBIN YO SORRY ASS AND GET THE HE-YULL BACK UP AND DO SOMETHIN ABOUT IT. I AM SO TIRED O’ YOU STEPPIN ON YA OWN SHIT AND CRYIN’ ABOUT IT.” Specifically in an inappropriately stereotypical sassy black woman’s voice. It made me want to bounce back and change. Badly. So here I am, in the wake of Dani Girl’s aftermath, determined and with a (written!) plan to become awesomer every month.
All because of a courageous little girl named Dani, and her equally brave and amazing friends, who inspired me to keep fighting. I know for certain that in the future, the better, braver, more successful and happy me will owe a lot to these characters.
(All photos used above are by Franco Laurel)
Yesterday’s Cinderella Manila trade show marked the first day I stepped into my dressing room as a cast member of Resorts World Manila’s 2013 staging of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The show & press conference was slated to begin at 11am, so we were called in at 8am for hair, makeup, sound checks and a final run through to make sure things were to go on swimmingly. Everything was a rush that morning, so I only managed to steal a few snapshots.
The first shot I took of my look for that day: the obligatory dressing room selfie.. Okay; I dislike “obligatory selfies” since really, nothing and nobody has contracted you to indulge in vanity. It’s really more like something that kind of always just happens to me. When you’re standing in front of the classic dressing room mirror decked out with lights in all its backstage-show-business pseudo-glamour, fully costumed and made up, especially when it’s the first time you’ve slipped into the costume and stood in front of that mirror.. Taking dressing room selfies almost seems like it is nature’s order. Haha!
This wig is the most gargantuan thing that has ever been placed on my head. I named it Beevus, as suggested by our co-director Rem Zamora because it looks like a beehive, and because I wanted to give it a manly name. It was begging for a manly name.
By the by, you can only imagine just how many bobby pins are holding Beevus in place.
I adore this shot of my stepfamily getting prepped for the show by the M.A.C team! For some reason they really look in-character here, and the hair and makeup helps plenty, but it’s really because of their facial expressions and body language. In the foreground is Sweet Plantado of The Company, who alternates with theatre veteran Pinky Marquez Cancio as the stepmother. In the background is Giannina Ocampo, a Repertory Philippines talent, who plays my fellow stepsister. My darling dysfunctional family is made up of some really talented women who are just as funny off-stage as they are in their roles.
Speaking of makeup, look at how marvelous a stage face the M.A.C artists paint on! My character, Joy, is a grumpy, sullen girl, so they chose to use dark neutrals and gave me a gaunt-looking face with heavy-looking eyes.
Most of my castmates are celebrated local theatre veterans, and it’s a huge honor to be surrounded by such awe-inspiring and seasoned performing artists! This is Caisa Borromeo, who is a part of the ensemble and plays one of the eligible young maidens!
This is Red Concepcion, who plays Lionel, the royal steward.
Celebrities Christian Bautista and Karylle Tatlonghari play Prince Christopher and Cinderella, respectively. A few minutes before we were called onstage, I managed to sneak in a dressing room selfie while they were getting ready! Alternating the roles of the prince and Cinderella are Fred Lo and Julia Abueva, pictured below. A dear old friend, Justine Pena, is also another one of the Cinderellas, but I wasn’t able to see her before the show started.
Stepfamily assemble! Welcome to the Jersey Shore of Fairytale Land.
The dress I’ve got on actually isn’t my costume for the show at all. The designers were pressed for time and were unable to finish my costume, so I used a Resorts World entertainment costume they already had on-hand just for the trade show. (What I’m wearing is a can can dress! Haha!) Can’t wait to see what my real costume’s going to look like.
These two gorgeous women are Sheila Fransisco and Pinky Marquez. Tita Sheila plays the queen and Tita Pinky plays the stepmother. She also alternates with Tita Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as the fairy godmother.
The press con ended and we morphed back into regular human beings. It took me a little bit beyond forever to get Beevus off and I couldn’t do it alone! I was starving and getting frantic because everyone was going ahead to the lunch with the press and I still hadn’t gotten the wig off. Hahaha!
We still had rehearsals after the press con as there was one final scene that needed to be choreographed, so during the 2 hour break in between I waited and chatted in the dressing room with one of my castmates Giansy (my stepsister dearest!) and Christian. It was a pretty exhilarating day, and this was the last shot that I captured of it.
I’m gonna get a little sappy here: as I stepped out onto the stage for the trade show, I was so overwhelmed by the magnitude of the realization that “this is really happening; I’m really on this beautiful stage performing for an audience and it has what I have always longed for” and kind of had to fight back tears. Coming back onstage for the cast interviews after the show, I felt them welling up again. This opportunity is such a crazy dream come true. I feel so fortunate that I still can’t believe it! “Because these daft and dewey-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes, impossible things are happening everyday” indeed. I’m beyond grateful and extremely excited, and I really can’t wait to tell you more stories about this production!! It has been motivating me to become better and filling my heart with overwhelming, true happiness. It sounds overstated but I really mean it.