Reliving the Holocaust in Tanghalang Pilipino’s Der Kaufmann

SAM_5148So how does one present a Shakespeare play that would appeal or spark the interest of the general Filipino public? First, make it contemporary. Look for a not-so-distant-event story with similar challenges that has worldwide interest, like the infamous holocaust. Then make the setting and actions using Filipino mannerisms. Add a touch of Filipino humor. Then you have a play that is not only entertaining and intellectualy stimulating, but educational as it presents a literary classic that may be easier to digest for the the general Filipino public.

Tanghalang Pilipino’s Der Kaufmann is Rody Vera and Tuxqs Rutaquio’s version of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” where Jews were discriminated upon. The time frame was moved forward to World War 11 with the persecution of Jews.

During the earlier presscon event, discussion focused on the common appeal of the play as the theme felt to be quite heavy. Tackling Shakespeare in a Filipino entertainment setting might be a risk as we all know the Pinoy audience go more for light and humorous shows. The questions kept going back to how do we convince people to watch this kind of a play. The title alone felt distant with no Filipino connection. Upon watching the actual play, there was something about it that I felt Filipinos should see. There was something great in its simplicity. Visually, I felt the staging, blocking, and lighting brilliantly captured the mood. The script and performance was simple to understand with sharp, heavy monologues lightened with a touch of pinoy humor.

For those who have not read “The Merchant of Venice”, or have forgotten what it is all about, this play will be enlightening for them at the very least. Director Rutaquio is always conscious of making sure his plays don’t lose that Filipino flavor. He is also always concerned about its general audience appeal so he makes use of the language of the street, mirroring the actions of the common folks. That is one trait I always associate with Director Rutaquio’s style in his plays and it is something I always look for.

Playdates: Sept 28, 29, October 5,6, 12,13 at 3pm, October 4, 11 at 10am and 3pm,October 5 at 8pm.  For more information, visit their website at www.tanghalangpilipino.org.ph.

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