Friday, January 9, 2015

Arbol de Fuego: Cherie Gil Leads Cast of Filipino Adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Cherry Orchard

Wazzup Pilipinas!

"It's serendipitous!" says Cherie Gil proudly as she lands a role in a play entitled 'Arbol de Fuego' that would honorably cap the 47th season of the iconic theater company we all know as the Philippine Educational Theater Association  or PETA

Arbol de Fuego is a Filipino adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Cherry Orchard. This is a re-imagining of the classic play having a somber yet with underlying sarcasm and humor that's now conveniently situated in a Philippine setting during the late 70s when Marcos made Roberto Benedicto his sugar czar- the beginning of the downfall of the Negros Occidental sugar industry and the gilded lifestyles of the Negrense sugar barons.

Last January 8, members of the media, including yours truly, the friendly neighborhood Pambansang Blogger ng Pilipinas, were invited to witness a dramatic reading of some portions of the play at the PETA Theater Center so we could meet the cast, director and writer, plus get glimpses of what to expect.

All of the cast have expressed that they have not even fully understood the characters they were portraying as they have only recently began rehearsing their lines and sink deeper into their roles. Nevertheless the preview was already promising that got us more excited to watch out for the media preview day.

"Chekhov's plays usually depict operatic renditions of reality mostly about change and its "inevitability and impossibility", which gives them a political context no matter how subtle they may be. This is something that resonates well within a Filipino context," explains director Loy Arcenas. The play was skillfully written by Roy De Vera and will be shown in 24 runs of 3 pm and 8 pm shows starting February 20, 2015

The acting ensemble is led by Cherie Gil who plays the role of Enriquetta Jardeleza-Sofronio, a middle-aged matriarch who comes home after squandering the family fortune from a long stay in Madrid. She and her brother was advised to sell the estate to avoid bankruptcy but refuses to sell their ancestral house and the rows of fire trees (Arbol de Fuego) that frame the estate. 

Chere Gil says her character is unbelievably bi-polar. Enriquetta lives in a certain illusion but at the same time makes her own reality, which is somewhat similar to her life as an actress.
Despite being in debt, the siblings threw lavish parties in an effort to forget about their depleting wealth and just reminisce their opulent past. Something so inherent in most Filipinos as we would often spend a lot, to the point of even loaning money, just to hold festive celebrations.

The other 12 cast of this Tagalog-spoken play includes Bembo Roco, who plays the role of the old but faithful mayordomo named Manoy Iking, Angeli Bayani who plays Charito, Enriquetta's adopted daughter, Jake Macapagal who plays Enriquetta's brother Adjie, Anna Luna (the youngest in the group) who plays Carmen aka Nini - the naive and optimistic daughter of Enriquetta,  Leo Rialp who plays money-grabbing and former nobleman Chitong, Raffy Tejada plays self-made businessman and former servant Nonoy Tiking, Ricki Benedicto playing the young intellectual Dante, plus Anthony Falcon, Lao Rodriguez, Divine Aucina, Kiki Baento, and Gie Onida playing as servants Caloy, Pindot, Ling-Ling, Kane, and a Sakada/Sundalo respectively.

Overall, its an interesting group that would work well as long as they weave among, and as what director Loy said "learn to trust each other" the characters they intend to portray will harmoniously come out.

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