Rizal versus Shakespeare in Manila 2011

[This entry is an attempted recreation and/or replacement of the original post that was somehow deleted by blogger.com during a maintenance check. Strangely enough, bits of the old post appear if certain keywords are entered into the Search box. I've also revised the title a bit to avoid possible problems in case the old entry resurfaces.]

As my friend R.I. pointed out in his Facebook wall, Manila will be experiencing a Shakespeare festival of sorts in the months to come for the second half of 2011.  It's interesting to me that this is happening during the same time the country is celebrating Jose Rizal's sesquicentennial.

I have some articles on the season line-ups of some theater groups in the pipeline, but here's a quick rundown for now:

In this corner: William
Filipino translations/adaptations
Dulaang UP will stage the Philippine premiere of "Titus Andronicus"
Peta will stage "King Lear" and two other works related to Shakespeare
Sipat Lawin Ensemble will stage a jejemon version of "Romeo and Juliet"
Tanghalang Ateneo will stage an awit version of "Romeo and Juliet"

English stagings:
Theater Down South will restage its "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Upstart Productions will stage "Much Ado About Nothing"
Word of Mouth Theater will stage "Merchant of Venice"

In this corner: Jose
Dulaang UP will stage "Rizal X" (a new work) and "Noli Me Tangere" (an opera)
Tanghalang Ateneo will stage "Mga Kuwento Ni Rizal Para Sa Bata"
Tanghalang Pilipino will stage "Noli Me Tangere" (a musical)

While there certainly will be many other Rizal-related productions by various groups, so far, based on the list above, someone has more shows than the other. Hmmmm.

I took a trip down memory lane to see if I've seen stagings of these Shakespeare works before:

- I saw a fuzzy copy of Julie Taymor's movie version of Titus and was bored to tears (well maybe partly because the fuzzy screen made it difficult to watch the movie).  We'll see if a live staging will help give me a better appreciation for Titus.

- I saw Repertory Philippines founder Zenaid Amador as King Lear in World Theater Project's staging at the Cultural Center of the Philippines years ago.

- I saw the first incarnation of "R'meo luvs Dew'lhiett," the devised work of Dulaang Sipat Lawin (the resident theater group of the Philippine High School for the Arts) using jologs and Nat'l Artist for Theater Roland Tinio's Tagalog translation at one of their recitals at Tanghalang Huseng Batute, then its restaging by Tanghalang Pilipino at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino.

- I saw Romeo at Julieta:  Isang Komedi, a tri-lingual staging of Romeo and Juliet by Peta in a joint production with Black Tent Theater at Raja Sulayman Theater, and its restaging at Tangahalang Huseng Batute.

- I saw the defunct Metropolitan Theater Guild's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Carlo Romulo Auditorium

- I saw Kenneth Branagh's movie version of Much Ado with Keanu Reeves and Emma Thompson

What's going on?
I know that Rizal wrote a sarswela, Junto Al Pasig (I wrote an article about Valenzuela City Center for the Performing Arts' staging of it in 2010), but I'll have to research if Rizal wrote any other plays (because I can't recall right now).

We can at least say that both were playwrights! Some of you may know the funny theory that Rizal is the father of Hitler (read this), ... so now I'm thinking what the universe might be telling us with this lots-of-Shakespeare-during-Rizal's-sesquicentennial.

Shakespeare lived in London and Rizal visited London.  So maybe Rizal was drawn to London for some reason ... maybe because Shakespeare is Rizal's great great great grandfather or something?! They kind of sort of slightly look alike. And they both have ... moustaches!

The theory is that Rizal was actually Jack the Ripper!

From online articles:
"Rizal was in London from May 1888 to January 1889, in the British Library copying "Sucesos de las islas Filipinas" by hand because there were no photocopying machines at the time. Jack the Ripper was active around this time, and since we do not know what Rizal did at night or on the days he was not in the library, some people would like to believe Rizal is suspect. They argue that when Rizal left London, the Ripper murders stopped. They say that Jack the Ripper must have had some medical training, based on the way his victims were mutilated. Rizal, of course, was a doctor. Jack the Ripper liked women, and so did our own Rizal. And -- this is so obvious that many overlooked it -- Jose Rizal's initials match those of Jack the Ripper!"

What do you think of these productions? Share your comments.

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