DIRECTOR’S NOTES: FRANNIEL ZAMORA
(AS WRITTEN BY MR. JOSELITO ‘TOOTS’ TOLENTINO)
ARTISTS AND ACTORS, IN PARTICULAR, TYPICALLY TALK ABOUT THAT LIFE-CHANGING REVELATION WHERE THEY DISCOVER, “THIS IS WHAT I NEED TO DO.” DID YOU EVER HAVE THAT EPIPHANY?
Everything came out natural to me. In my 3rd grade, i already volunteered to choreograph and direct a dance number for the school presentation. At the age of 17, i already directed a fundraising concert of the church choir which was presented at the metropolitan theater.
I always have this passion for organizing and putting things together. It’s like putting together a puzzle to create the big picture.
Q: AS A YOUNG GENTLEMAN DRAWN IN A PREVIOUS CAREER PATH BACK IN YOUR 20’s, WHAT IS IT THAT EVENTUALLY PULLED YOU INTO THE PRACTICE AND INDUSTRY OF FASHION AND NOW, MUSICAL THEATER ?
A: i am a theatre artist and a bread winner, so i needed to find a job that will support my family. My being involved with fashion was meant for regular income. But i never really left the industry that i wanted to be part of. I designed costumes for theater plays, suits and gowns for friends in showbiz and outfits for live entertainment.
Q: WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE THEATRE THAT YOU LOVE MOST?
A: everything. Like what i have said, it’s the creating and putting together process that really keeps me loving what i do.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON ‘KANSER@35 AS A MUSICAL THEATRE PIECE TODAY?
COULD YOU TELL US WHAT MAKES THIS MUSICAL SO SPECIAL ?
A: i always believed in the works of jose rizal. And i, as an artist, believe that i have the responsibility to educate the audience, most specially the young ones, of this masterpiece of our national hero. We need to do something to post awareness and promote our culture and heritage to the new generation.
The collaborative geniuses that work behind this production really make it special–the creative/artistic and production staff and the cast.
Q: IN DIRECTING ‘KANSER@35, WILL YOU BE ADDING OR SUBTRACTING A NEW TWIST TO THE MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY A STRAIGHT PLAY ? IF SO, WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE INVOLVED WITH SUCH A UNIQUELY DIFFERENT AND UPDATED PRESENTATION OF THIS NEW MUSICAL ?
A: i already did the subtracting and adding (with the permission of the writer) when i first directed kanser in 1992 and was staged in ccp maintheater. But the updated version which is 98% singing, adds more spice and drama and excitement to each scene. The blending of the music, choreography, voices and portrayal of the actors— something to watch out for.
Q: HOW DID YOU PREPARE YOURSELF FOR ‘KANSER@35 AS A DIRECTOR ? AND HOW DID YOU PREPARE THE CAST FOR THEIR RESPECTIVE ROLES ?
A:i reviewed my notes. Read my noli book again. I watched several plays. Contemplated on what i really want to bringforth in this musical staging. And stumbled on 3 vital elements—the brain, the heart, and the courage.
We conducted a week long workshop for the actors that tackled voice, dance and acting. I let them read and research.
Q: DO YOU BELIEVE IN ‘ENSEMBLE ACTING’ — DOES IT TAKE A MORE CHALLENGING TWIST IN YOUR DIRECTORIAL CHORES WHEN THIS SCHOOL OF ACTING IS APPLIED ?
A: yes. It is more challenging to put together an ensemble on the same energy and performance. It is double work because you have to deal with each and every actor to serve and work for a unified performance.
Q: WHAT WILL MAKE A SHOW LIKE ‘KANSER@35 SO VASTLY DIFFERENT THAN THE OTHER SHOWS THAT ARE BEING PRODUCED BY OTHER THEATRE COMPANIES ?
A: it is an original filipino material. It is the longest running filipino play. It has reached over a million viewers. And that what makes it different and challenging. I can’t imagine myself directing an english play. Don’t get me wrong, i love, watch and support foreign and english play but a big part of my being a theater actor would mean promoting filipino plays.
Q: RECENTLY A LOT HAS BEEN SAID ABOUT THE CURRENT STATE OF THE MUSICAL THEATRE SCENE: THE ONSLAUGHT OF NEW THEATER COMPANIES, THE STRUGGLING ECONOMY AND TICKET PRICES, THE NEW GENERATION OF THEATER AUDIENCES, AND MORE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CURRENT STATE OF THE MUSICAL THEATER INDUSTRY HERE IN OUR COUNTRY ?
A: theater is always on the struggle, moreso, theater companies that produce original filipino plays and musicals. It is dissappointing that our government and other private sectors neither support nor patronize the works of our fellow filipino artists.
But! Surprisingly, they watch and mind you, buy tickets if the play is from broadway. I am wishing that our local plays receive such support from fellow filipinos.
Q: IF YOU WERE TO WRITE AND DIRECT A NEW FILIPINO MUSICAL, WHAT WOULD BE THAT DREAM PROJECT AND WHY ?
A: i want to create a musical that will highlight the real hero behind our national hero— “paciano”, the brother of jose rizal. It is written that paciano made most of the sacrifices for rizal. I believe that it will be a very interesting revelation in our history. After all, in very success that a person achieve is an unsung hero.
(WRITTEN BY: MR. TOOTS TOLENTINO)