One Night at the Theater and Tisoy

Courtesy of Gentle Mapagu

During my early teens, I didn’t appreciate watching theater productions with the presumption that it’s boring, especially the ones we are forced to watch back in our elementary and high school days. But as I grew older, I became more open-minded with the arts and realized that I was missing half of my life, like how I would tell some people who have not seen the first two films of ‘The Godfather’, ‘The Shining’, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and many other films that gave us that surreal experience as viewers.

My first experience in watching a theater production was in our school (Letran) during my freshman year. Looking back, the play featured a lot of “hugot” and I didn’t like it that much because it gave me the impression that I was watching a romantic comedy that gives off a lot of cheesy “feels”.

Outside Letran, I was able to watch a production in PETA entitled ‘Strong Boy, Deaf Boy and a Girl in an Abaya’ followed by ‘Ayanasu’’. After that, I got the chance to see Cherie Gil, again in PETA, for ‘Arbol de Fuego’.

Fast forward to the present, I just watched DUP’s (Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas) production etitled ‘Tisoy Brown: Hari ng Wala’ based on Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. It was my first time to watch a production way up north of Metro Manila, thanks to my friends that are theater majors in UP Diliman. Although they are not part of the cast and one friend is part of the production team, it is something worth asking your friends for and I am grateful for them.

The show enlightened me about the stigma and culture that was present in Central Luzon from Pampanga to Olongapo during the time when US Bases were still here in the Philippines and the US service men from the Navy or any branch of the US military would treat Filipino women like their past time but it was not all about that stigma and culture. It also enlightened that when you make out with a stripper and get high at the same time, it leads you to a different dimension. You don’t even know that she could be the devil’s daughter or she could just be the daughter of the most powerful drug lord in town. Also, you don’t just leave the love of your life at home like that when the stripper you banged comes at your doorstep telling you that you have a son and that you are a lucky guy that Death’s home girl did not bring your soul to hell.

It’s also my first time to see Neil Ryan Sese out of the mainstream media and to my surprise, he is truly a good actor. It’s really sad that the mainstream media limits him to certain roles. People like him deserve more screen time in the mainstream.

The whole experience truly brought me close, also literally, because my ticket is designated to the second row and brought me out of my comfort zone because off all the strip tease and acts that are truly SPG since I am from a Catholic school. Scripts for acts like Tisoy Brown will surely be expurgated or may not be even shown to schools like mine.

The way I saw it, the moral of the story is that if you are from Central Luzon and labeled for being the son of a US service man, you really have to prove yourself no matter what. Another is that you should not get easily distracted with strip clubs or sexy women wearing black. The most important for me is throughout the play, Tisoy is truly the ‘Hari ng Wala’ despite venturing in illegal businesses, leading a cult of devoted women, and being hailed as a genius in a mental hospital.