Photo Flash: THE POST OFFICE - The Trouper In Martin Delos Santos
Rabindranath Tagore's "The Post Office"|Adapted into Filipino by Rody Vera|Directed by Gardy Labad|Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA)|Tanghalang PETA-Phinma PETA Theater Center, New Manila, Quezon City|August 6 to September 12, 2010
International child performer Martin Delos Santos' ("Mammoth", "Jollitown") natural actor's instincts when essaying 10-year-old protagonist Abel in Philippine Educational Theater Association's (PETA) Filipino adaptation of Bengali Rabindranath Tagore's "Dakghar" or "The Post Office" (1912) brings out a delightful and charming portrayal.
After five years, BroadwayWorld.com had the opportunity to revisit the Tanghalang PETA-Phinma, an intimate performance space at the PETA Theater Center in New Manila, Quezon City, where Mr. Delos Santos and stage luminaries Jojo Atienza (royal doctor), Bodjie Pascua (Poldo), and Bembol Roco (Mang Pedring) have been leading the cast of PETA's "Ang Post Office" (The Post Office) since Friday, August 6 until Sunday, September 12, 2010.
PETA seemed to be thriving with repeat audience members: university students from the Centro Escolar University (CEU), which has two campuses in Metro Manila and another one in the Bulacan province, filled the venue to the rafters on a Sunday matinee show of "Ang Post Office". Mr. Delos Santos, who alternates with teen actor Abner Delina Jr. as Abel, was announced to perform at the venue.
In "Ang Post Office", an ailing child Abel greets the morning sun and passersby with radical optimism through the lone window of his room: he meets a "taho" vendor who instantly becomes his new friend; a few other young boys who play with his old toys; a young "sampaguita" vendor who promises to return after selling her flowers; a security guard who tolls the bell announcing the time; and a policeman who talks about the King's postmen tasked to bring royal letters to the village.
As the night slowly falls, Abel's health condition also worsens.
Mr. Delos Santos, a ten-year-old student off stage, effortlessly puts life into the role of Abel (ironically in a play about illness and death) for Tagore wrote the original text primarily targeting young audiences. Filipino playwright Rody Vera's ("Kung Paano Ko Pinatay si Diana Ross", "Luna") adaptation of "The Post Office" into Philippine context contains simple lyrical poems and dialogues but with sufficient conviction, and essential life lessons.
The live choral performances of the Kilyawan Children's Choir from the local parishes of Our Lady of Annunciation and Immaculate Heart of Mary of musical director and composer Jeff Hernandez's ("Maiden of the Sea" of the Manila Ocean Park) incidental music, which has fused together Bengal and local indigenous musical influences, adequately reiterates Tagore's concepts of young children's imaginative worlds. Kilyawan's choir members wear cardboard wings as part of their costumes. Some of them even play and interact with Mr. Delos Santos in some parts.
To add more color to Abel's realms of fantasy, PETA's returning director Gardy Labad ("Radiya Mangandiri") has commissioned filmmaker Ellen Ramos ("Ganap na Babae") to design digitally-animated works that would help tell Abel's uplifting anecdotes. Ms. Ramos' stick man animations are projected on two cardboard clouds hanging above Lex Marcos' ("The Mystery of Irma Vep", "The Crucible") revolving bamboo gazebo set piece.
On the matinee performance we watched Mr. Delos Santos, the bamboo-made set's door frames accidentally fell into center stage. The wooden structure landed on the actor's lower legs and ankles while he was supposedly lying on his deathbed. However, the trouper in the young kid plainly ignored the pain, and the loud reactions emanating from the audience on that fateful day. He finished the last 30 minutes of the show, and took his final bow.
We personally met with Mr. Delos Santos after the presentation. With surgical gauze and tapes around his right foot, he still gamely posed for the camera for BroadwayWorld.com's avid readers. The talented boy, who was a featured actor in the 2009 international film "Mammoth" starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams, shared with us his great enthusiasm for playing the main lead in PETA's 43rd Season production: "I was so excited when I passed the auditions. I even finished memorizing the script in five days!"
Right after "Ang Post Office", Mr. Delos Santos returns to acting in local television through GMA 7's weekly kiddie show "Jollitown". He is also set to shoot another film.
PETA's "Ang Post Office" has been receiving art grants from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), UNESCO Commission for the Philippines, MISEREOR/KZE, and Zest Airways Inc.
For ticket inquiries and reservations, contact PETA Marketing and Public Relations at (632) 725-6244, (632) 410-821 or (63)917-8044428. You may also visit www.petatheater.com.
Remaining Playdates: August 27, 28, 29, September 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 (10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.)
Photos by Oliver Oliveros and PETA
Martin Delos Santos poses for BroadwayWorld.com
PETA Theater Center
PETA Theater Center
PETA Theater Center
Kilyawan Children's Choir, Abner Delina Jr., Bembol Roco
Martin Delos Santos, Bembol Roco
Martin Delos Santos, Bodjie Pascua, Bembol Roco