Article by: Sam Chapman
Photographs collated by: Soung Jin Yang
On March 15th, I had the good fortune of catching Repertory Philippines’ production of August: Osage County just before it closed. Featuring the performances of Baby Barredo, one of the co-founders of Repertory Philippines, and ISM’s own Ms. Monsod, it was a phenomenal show. As Mrs. Barredo says, “when you have a very good script, you can’t go wrong.” But the quality of August: Osage County went beyond the “very good script” – all performance elements combined to create an unforgettable show.
As a theatre student, I am obliged to absorb as much theatre as possible. As such, I am often struck by the lack of what I would subjectively call “serious drama” in the Manila theatre scene. I don’t mean to knock the very many good musicals produced in Manila, but the fact is that there are very many of them. Mrs. Barredo says that this is largely due to the demands of the audience. “Without an audience,” she says, “there is no play.” And the typical audience has certainly changed since Repertory’s founding in 1967. “The audiences who used to go before, sad to say, were much more educated, much more cultured, and spoke English very well,” says Mrs. Barredo, going on to remark that she would like to see more interest in serious drama from typical theatre-goers. Ms. Monsod agrees: “I would love to see more serious drama. The truthful kind.” But, considering the critical and popular success of August: Osage County, what accounts for the lack of interest in heavier material for the stage? Ms. Monsod suggests that it has to do with the fact that “people generally prefer to laugh and be entertained than think.”
August: Osage County made me laugh, made me think, and I was entertained for the entire three and a half hours. I would recommend seeing this show if it were not already finished. If you did not catch it, you missed out. And if you want to see Baby Barredo on stage once more, you’ll have to wait until she again comes across “a challenging role like [Osage County’s] Violet.”