Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fluid, as in wishy-washy

A controversial show-biz couple hires the country's premiere orchestra for their grand wedding reception. Then they let the orchestra play behind a curtain, preferring the ambience of piped-in music to the real thing. The orchestra coordinator is reduced to sputtering in rage.

Fiction? Think again. This anecdote, ripe with hilarious philosophical implications on the clash between arriviste pretensions to class and artists' obligation to their art, is a true story. Actor, playwright and director Floy Quintos wove that vignette into his hit play, “Fluid,” which is currently being restaged by the 2007 Theater Arts majors of Ateneo de Manila University at ADMU's Gonzaga Hall.

Mr. Quintos should know a lot when it comes to things high-, low- and middle-brow in this country. His professional practice ranges the field, from Ballet Philippines to Kuya Germs, from directing a Vina Morales concert one moment to staging the UST Conservatory of Music's acclaimed production of Tchaikovsky's opera “Eugene Onegin” the next. He's guided the ditzy show-biz talk show “StarTalk” to its 12th year and appears on TV as one of the judges in “Pinoy Pop Superstar,” while also churning out well-written, highly contemporary theater pieces like “Laro” (Schnitzler's “La Ronde” set in Manila's gay milieu) or “St. Louis Loves Dem Filipinos” (about the export of Filipino tribesmen to the St. Louis World Exposition in 1904). He runs his own art and antiques gallery, even as he's also one of the most in-demand directors around for corporate shows, product launches and the yearly velada of Assumption alumnae and their like.

In “Fluid,” he applies his considable experience working with and shaping the local scene, from the visual arts to theater and the movies, to ask penetrating but humorously-phrased questions about power, status, compromise, art and art-making. Are you selling out when you 1) change your painterly style to please your clients? 2) abandon original Filipino productions for Broadway-style musicals? 3) cross over to show-biz and remake yourself to its demands? 4) allow an events organizer to have your esteemed orchestra play behind a curtain?

I'm putting it rather crudely, of course, as the play offers more nuances than these blunt questions. In any case, I managed to get the peripatetic Mr. Quintos to sit for a 10-minute video interview to answer questions about “Fluid” and how it came to be.

Here's your assignment: First, enjoy the video below (the loquacious Mr. Quintos is a blast to talk to, by the way) and try to guess who the low-rent showbiz couple is. Second, run to the Ateneo this weekend or the next and let a bunch of young, talented artists tickle you, thrill you and hit you in the gut with their ardent theater-making.

A ticket to “Fluid” costs only P150. Believe me, the entrance is cheap, but the show sure isn't.

PLUS: Theater actor Ren Robles reviews the play in his Multiply blog here.


exie abola said...

Hi Gibbs.

Great interview! It was really insightful. I just came from the gala of Fluid tonight and I have to say I was very impressed by the performances. And most of them are still students. Wow!

By the way, I tried my hand at a play review. Wrote about Dulaang UP's As You Like It for PhilStar. It should be coming out Monday.

Hope you can check it out and let me know what you think.


gibbs cadiz said...

hi EXIE, thanks for the comment! i've been meaning to e-mail you to let you know how glad i am to see you writing for a daily. about time. :) sure, lemme know when your piece on 'as you like it' comes out. i hope will have it online, so i can link to and perhaps excerpt from it when i write my blog entry on the play. thanks and see you soon, i hope! :)

exie abola said...

Oops, it didn't come out today (Monday). I guess they're holding it for Wednesday, in my usual space in section M. Oh well. said...

Theater is a thankless form of art?

No! Really? Tell!

:-) Good job with these interviews, man. You're making me miss Maynila even more.

Floyd's a hoot. I was a stage manager for play he did for Tony Mabesa back in 1989. Floyd was a one-man backstage entertainment show. :-)

I need to get the hell back to Manila. This time, I'll make sure I get there during theater season.

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