Friday, August 19, 2011

PETA's William contemporizes Shakespeare for young audiences

After the success of “Care Divas,” PETA ventures into another ambitious feat--its new Shakespeare rap musical, “William,” which runs August 19-September 25 at the PETA Theater Center.

The company, known for its distinctly Filipino theater, focuses on William Shakespeare whose literary works, no matter how great they may be, has horrified many a Filipino student to tears.

Written by Ron Capinding and directed by PETA Artistic Director Maribel Legarda, “William” familiarizes young people with the beauty of Shakespeare’s works and re-invents the Bard using rap rhythm and hip-hop beats.

Shakespeare’s works, just like today's rap hits, are based on beats, rhythm and rhyme. He also addressed themes of desire, greed, betrayal, power, violence and love, ages before Eminem did. Besides, Shakespeare wrote for ordinary people, and his signature iambic pentameter was the best street rhyming of his time.

“I brought in rap and hip-hop as the contemporary voice and language of young people today,” says Legarda. I hope Shakespeare’s poetry and today’s rap (ang bagong balagtasan) find a point of conversation and evolve into engaging dialogue and drama.”


The cast of “William” trained rap under a true Tondo rapper, Shielbert Manuel, a.k.a “O.G. Sacred” who has appeared in the indie film “Tribu” (Best Film, Cinemalaya 2007, Pari De L' Avenir, Festival de Paris 2008) by Jim Libiran.

“William” features 10 original rap songs composed by Jeff Hernandez. Songs such as “Pucha Bro”, “Nosebleed”, “O Shakespeare”, “What’s In A Name” are fusions of various music genres like rock, soul, funk, RnB and hip-hop. “William” also utilizes an emerging form of rap, FlipTop, which is becoming popular among today’s youth. These rap numbers, choreographed by John Tan (from Urban Dance Crew), are performed along with various hip-hop forms, such as crumping, breakdance, ballroom and jazz hip-hop.

Reminiscent of today’s popular TV musicals such as “Glee” and “High School Musical,” “William” is set in a high school in Metro Manila,where five young students are forced to study Shakespeare by their terror class adviser, Ms. Lutgarda Martinez.

In the process of studying, they not only realize the beauty of Shakespeare’s works but also discover themselves through Shakespeare’s characters. The class muse, Sophia, finds out what true beauty is through “Romeo and Juliet;” the bully, TJ, encounters humility and grace through “Hamlet;” the brainy OFW's daughter, Estela, learns forgiveness, while the student council leader, Richard, learns self-acceptance through “Merchant of Venice;” and a timid lad, Erwin, finds his voice through “Julius Caesar.”

This high school barkada soon realizes that Shakespeare is not just a literary icon meant to torment their lives, but is also a “brotha” and peer.

“William” play dates are August 19-21, 26-28, September 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 2011 with shows at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The PETA Theater Center is located at No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City.

Tickets are P350 (regular) and P500 (vip). For inquiries and ticket reservations, contact PETA Marketing & PR Office at 7256244 or 4100821, 0917-5765400, e-mail petatheater@gmail.com.


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