Gantimpala Theater Foundation presents Florante at Laura

Stage is a big part of people’s self discovery. There, people learn to be who they are and tell others what they want to do. Communicating through a wonderfully crafted words and phrases by the playwright and executed by the director with his or her own vision and understanding of the story.

Every word has meanings; every story has a history.

Since we are having our own school productions, we’ve been asked to watch a play called Florante at Laura and observe what are they doing inside a theater production. I love watching plays especially when it is a Shakesperean play, but also, I love contemporary plays that is being exhibited in some local theater houses like for example at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. (Proud production volunteer here) Recently, my batch mates visited the Star Theater located at the back of Star City to watch the said play.

Florante at Laura

Paul Jake Paule as Florante, Ellrica La Guardia as Laura, Sharlene Rivera as Flerida and Jeffrey Carpio as Aladdin. (Photo source:


Florante at Laura is one of the many timeless filipino literary works that was originally written by Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar and written to a play by Mr. Boni Ilagan, directed by Mr. Roeder Camanag. It is a story that educates people about justice, truth and love. A poetically beautiful tale of a boy who was sent by his parents to Albania to train to be a warrior, a princess who fell in love with him, a friend who became a foe, a faithful comrade, a prince who was sent to the jungle by betraying his father and a women, who in every odds, will fight for her love. It was presented in the form of comedy, a twist in the classic Filipino love story.

An interview with the Director

Mr. Roeder Camanag

It was such an honor to interview Mr. Roeder Camanag, an award winning actor who directed Florante at Laura. It was just a small talk about how to run a whole production since being a director is not as easy as it seems. “As the director, you are the captain of the ship and people depend on you, so you should be tough and be always ready for some worse scenarios.” He also told me to never teach your actors how to act because how they act is how they react in a particular situation. I just have to give my own vision and the rest will be the actors’ responsibility. “It is a matter of self-discipline, if your actors are not really committed then it’s their problem and not yours, because first of all, they accepted the job so they should honor their commitments. Just don’t make them feel bad about a ‘bad’ acting because in theater, the primary source of their guts to stand on stage in front of many people is their ego and confidence. If you hurt their egos, chances are, they won’t be giving their best shot because you let them down.BUT IF THEY REALLY NEED A PUSH, GIVE THEM.” After hearing those words from Mr.Camanag, I felt like I’ve been flushed with cold water because I am such a flaw-seeker. I always tell my actors to repeat a certain act because they did not meet my expectations. Now, I just really have to lose my tight grip on their necks  whenever we are rehearsing but, I should really be strict when it comes to practice. Balance is the key.

Interaction with the actors

Actors are busy people but we are so lucky enough to have a short interview with Mr. Paul Jake Paule who plays the role of Florante. He pointed out that acting is quite difficult but it is fun and exciting to do. You’ll get to portray different roles that challenges your wit and patience especially your versatility. “Number one rule for me is to respect your co-actors. Never correct them or tell them what to do.” I get his point because it shows that you feel superior among your fellow actors. It happens all the time, it’s inevitable. One example cited is when someone loses their blocking and it affects the other actor, that’s the time when that actor was being scolded by his co actor for ruining the whole blocking. “One should handle stress and it is a matter of being disciplined enough to not let your bad habits affect the whole play” it makes sense to me. He also, added that adlibs are cheap choice because it is ‘an easy way out’ when actors/actresses forgot their lines. “The playwrights worked hard for the scripts and then you’ll change it for your own sake? Every line in the script has meanings to draw attention to the story but when you do adlibs, you’re losing the essence of the story. The attention will draw to you. You should do improvisation, because adlibs leads you nowhere.” Aside from tips on stage, he told us how to take care of our voices and it is to hydrate and vocalization before rehearsal and before the show.

I thought the actors are untouchable (sorry for the term) but they are not. Actually, they are so nice. We even had a picture with the whole cast and I had a picture with Makata, an amazing actor who narrates the story. The actors are so professional that even when they are still at the backstage, they are in character, one thing an actor should really do before going out to see the crowd.

At the backstage

Wonderland on earth it is. We’ve toured around the backstage, the stage and the actors’ dressing rooms. Our jaws dropped after seeing different theater equipment, how they work inside a production, how the artists prepare before the show and their costumes. I couldn’t find the right words to say but I’m so stoke to see all those things. Although I’ve seen those before at some theater houses, I still had butterflies in my stomach the moment I set foot at the Star theater’s stage. Feels like my Sisa days.

Sir Matthew, the stage manager told us a lot of things about the set. From the batters, how they coordinate with the technical team, how they manage stress during the show and everything about stage design. I’ve noticed some marks pinned at the stage. It is called spikes, a really useful thing for the actors to not forget their blocking.

Laura’s blocking

Also, Sir Raymond, the production manager taught us things we should really keep in mind. Example, it is a mortal sin in a theater production to say “wala” (none) and no to the director. “If the director is asking you to do a certain job, then you shouldn’t say no, gawan mo ng paraan lahat” said Sir Raymond. He added, “being in a production requires commitment and everything you do must be made known to the director and the others. Don’t bypass people.” While watching the play at the side of the backstage, I’ve seen the actors vocalize and prepare before going out the stage. I also noticed the assistant Stage manager which is Ma’am April giving command to the technical staff.

Nice view from here 🙂

To wrap it all up, it was such a great experience for me to be inside a wonderful production by Gantimpala Theater Foundation. I am not only up to being entertained but also, I’m up to the leanings I had during the show. I’m so thankful that I’ve seen them work at the backstage and how they conquer the pressure professionally.
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