From Aegis to Chekhov

From Aegis to Chekhov
PETA seduces audiences with another must-see theater piece

By Leloi Arcete

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – After the chart-topping success of the Philippine Educational Theater Association’s (PETA) OPM comedy musical Rak of Aegis, PETA brings new life to Anton Chekhov’s timeless world classic The Cherry Orchard in its new play Arbol de Fuego.

From Rak of Aegis’ flooded subdivision of Barangay Venizia, PETA’s black box theater will be transformed into a failing hacienda in the sugar lands of Negros, patterned after the failing orchards of the Russian landed gentry in The Cherry Orchard. If Rak of Aegis was a comedy musical of popular jukebox hits that tickled the audience’s fancy for the familiar, Arbol De Fuego is what we call a ‘dramedy’: a bittersweet comedy-drama about a family’s struggle against the shifting social order of the changing times.

Deviating from the usual serious and melodramatic staging of Cherry Orchard, PETA’s adaptation is told with underlying sarcasm and humor that Chekhov had originally intended for the play.

“Chekhov is a dramatist known for farce. People usually think of this dark, sad, serious play because that was how director Stanislavski staged it. It’s very literary, but it’s really a comedy,” shares writer Rody Vera.

Arbol de Fuego laughs at the habits and tendencies of the diminishing aristocratic class as it focuses on the self-indulgences and obsession with material wealth of the rich. Like Rak of Aegis, the play also illustrates the plight of the working class, their struggles, and tribulations.

Another play where the plot stems from domestic troubles, Arbol de Fuego tells the story of an aristocratic family on the eve of an impending foreclosure of their estate. The protagonist, Enriquetta Jardeleza-Sofronio, returns to the family estate to face the prospect of impending bankruptcy and losing their land with its beloved rows of flame trees, or what is locally known as arbol de fuego. Fortunately, a former servant’s son, now a successful property developer, has a cunning plan to save the estate.

Arbol de Fuego has the makings of another promising theater hit like Rak of Aegis. The play combines the power of a world classic with a band of notable theater talents: multi-awarded director-designer Loy Arcenas, prolific playwright Rody and sought-after composer and musical director Vincent de Jesus.

Arbol de Fuego also boasts of a stellar cast. The brilliant acting ensemble is led by seasoned actress Cherie Gil, who plays the role of Enriquetta Jardeleza-Sofronio. Alongside Gil is Urian best actress awardee Angeli Bayani who plays Charito, Enriquetta’s adopted daughter who takes care of the estate while they are away. British Independent Film Award nominee Jake Macapagal plays Enriquetta’s ostentatious brother Adjie, while 2013 Cinema One Best Actress Anna Luna plays Enriquetta’s naïve and optimistic daughter . Joining them is money-grubbing former nobleman Chitong played by well-known actor, director and set designer Leo Rialp; Self-made businessman and former servant Nonoy Tiking played by Raffy Tejada; young intellectual Dante played by Riki Benedicto; and old but faithful mayordomo Manoy Iking played by Bembol Roco. A host of talented actors round off the cast as the family’s hired servants played by Anthony Falcon, Lao Rodriguez, Gie Onida, Kiki Baento, and Divine Aucina.

With a dose of farce and a dash of drama, Arbol de Fuego is sure to be an astounding acting piece and a feast for the senses; a truly Filipino production that should not be missed! The play opens on February 20, 2015 with shows from Fridays to Sundays, 3:00pm and 8:00pm at the PETA Theater Center, No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City. For show buying and ticket information, contact PETA at 725 6244 or 0917 5765400 or contact Ticket World at 891-9999.