By Ibarra C. Mateo
To mark the 95th birthday of National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose, the Tanghalang Pilipino (TP) will stage “Balete” starring award-winning film actor Christian Bables as guest actor and TP Artistic Director Fernando C. Josef.
Josef, in a Facebook post on June 1, 2019, said Balete is a “special project sponsored by the Jose family and Cultural Center of the Philippines” and is to be mounted in November 2019.
Balete is a Rody Vera’s stage adaptation of Jose’s novel “Tree”. Tree is one of Jose’s five novels in the internationally acclaimed Rosales saga, which traces the five generations of two families, namely the Samsons (poor farmers) and the Asperri (wealthy mestizos) spanning the Spanish and American periods until post-Philippine independence era.
Balete was first staged by PETA under the direction of Chris B. Millado, now CCP artistic director and vice president.
Bables shot to prominence for his roles in the films ‘Die Beautiful’ (2016), ‘Signal Rock’ (2018), and ‘Recipe for Love’ (2018).
He won the Best Leading Actor award at the 5th Hanoi International Film Festival for his portrayal of “Intoy” in the movie Signal Rock, directed by directed by Chito S. Roño.
In March 2005, TP staged “Mass”, the last of the five novels by Jose in his Rosales saga series, as its season closer.
Director Millado tapped the relatively newcomer movie actor Yul Servo in the lead role of Pepe Samson for Mass. It was Servo’s first stage appearance.
An earlier piece about Servo’s portrayal of Pepe Samson said: “The sheer searing rawness of Yul Servo’s performance and his genuine emotions immediately connected him to his audience, young and old alike. Those were no mean feat for a maiden lead role in a production by, arguably, the country’s best theater company at the moment.”
After his final bow, the National Artist Jose approached Servo and told him that his performance was “exemplary” and that he appreciated Servo’s “take on the Pepe Samson character.”
For Vera’s stage adaptation of Mass, Millado assembled Madeleine Nicolas, the versatile Lou Veloso, Bodjie Pascua, Ronnie Lazaro, Roeder Camañag, Kokoy Palma, Tess Jamias, Diana Malahay, Johann de Guzman, Marjorie Ann Lorico, Cris Pasturan, and Edralin Cabrera.
For his Mass set design, multimedia artist Norberto Roldan’s was “unobtrusive yet artistically captured the sacred and the profane by using images of the Sto. Niño, Guy and Pip, and a host of other religious and non-religious icons.”
As if Roldan was “influenced by the traditional Japanese architecture, he creatively designed sliding panels to match swift changes in scenes.”
Tanghalang Pilipino Image