MANILA -- Phil Noble, the veteran actor-teacher-director from the Philippine Education Theater Association (PETA), wants to emphasize the independently produced new play he’s directing titled “Dick Talk” is not all about the male sex organ.
“Let us talk about men, what they are going through in our society. We want to say something not only about ‘titi’. Marami pang bansag sa kanya. Sa English, hindi bastos pakinggan. Pero kapag Tagalog may bahid ng mahalay,” he said during the “Excerpt Night” for the media.
“Bakit? Nilalagay sa tamang perspekitba ayon sa pananaw ng mga kalalakihan. Hindi nito pinapalaganap ang machismo o sex. Nilalayong ng kwentong kathang isip, na pag-usapan at itanghal ang pinagdadaanan ng mga lalaki, tulad ng mga babae. Ang take-off ay kanyang ‘titi’.”
“Dahil dito maliban sa puso, ang isa sa mahalagang bahagi ng lalaki, na inaalagaan, dahil dito nagsisimula ang buhay. Ipasok sa utak ng tao na hindi lang titi ang pinagdadaanan ng mga kalalakihan sa ating lipunan. Sa dula paulit-ulit niyo maririnig. Hanggang maging organic na lang ito, ordinary na lang ang salita,” Nobel added.
“Dick Talk” has five actors interpreting different concerns of men in various stages of their lives. They are Jake Cuenca, Mikoy Morales, Nil Nodalo, Gold Aceron and Archi Adamos.
The producer is a new kid on the theater block, V-Roll Media Ventures.
The comparison to Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” and closer to home, the Ricky Lee-penned and Joel Lamangan-directed “Penis Talk: All About Men,” which was staged in 2004, is unavoidable.
“Malinaw sa amin na ma-compare, maganda rin na ma-compare. We are careful. All characters are three-dimensional. Here, we emphasize nagkakamali, walang mabait at masamang titi.” Noble said.
The concept creators Edwin Vinarao and Christian Clemente. Writers are Benj Cruz Garcia and Ara Vincencio.
The project started, Noble recalled, during the pandemic. “Maraming pinanganak ng ideas ang pandemic. Nagsimula sa kape. Nagkape kami. Parang sagot sa ‘Vagina Monologues’. It’s a long process and we were careful doing the script. At first, there was only Benj but later on, we thought of adding Ara to get the female point of view. There were lots of critiquing.”
Even after the “Excerpt Night” presentation, during the talk-back session, Noble said it’s a working script. They worked with the actors in developing their own monologues.
Cuenca is not new to theater. He debuted in the local staging of Duncan Macmillan’s “Lungs” in 2018, produced by The Sandbox Collective. It’s a two-hander play about the ups and downs of a relationship. He acted with theater actress Sab Jose.
In “Dick Talk,” he plays a character named Peter North Teves. He is a 35-year-old professional escort with a considerable number of clienteles. One day, he begins to doubt his popularity as he deals with “inherited legacy.” His parents happen to be retired famous porn stars known by the names, Hardy “Hard Dick” Teves and Poquita Diaz.
From an excerpt of his monologue, Cuenca goes: “Pangarap ko lang naman makaipon, magkaron ng simpleng bahay, kotse at higit sa lahat, sariling identity. Gusto man ako ng mga bading, mga matrona. Kasi curious sila. Ako lang naman ang nag-iisang produkto ni Hard Dick Teves. Maraming bookings. Gusto ako matikman. Kasi nga curious sila.”
Cuenca said he is grateful to work in a play that is an original Filipino material.
“We have full control of the project. I’m just grateful at this point in my life,” Cuenca said. He revealed Noble, who also directs for teleseryes, got him roles when he was just starting up.
“So, one day when Direk Phil called me up and he offered me this play. I said yes agad. Kulang pa nga ito. My first few years as struggling actor, a lot of directors didn’t have much belief in me. Si Direk Phil gave me roles” Cuenca recalled.
Noble said, “Matagal na ang pinagsamahan namin, bata pa siya (Cuenca). We got him for guest roles then lead characters. Madaling kausap. He’s so real. He can talk about sensible things.”
Cuenca said what he missed most in theater are the atmosphere and camaraderie. It’s like answering a calling as an actor, he pointed out.
“Every time I have an opportunity to go back to theater, I get it. Coming from the pandemic, it’s confusing what you do as an artist, nowadays. You don’t know if you’re an influencer or if you have to be on You Tube all the time. For me, to accept the play is to remind myself kung bakit ko ginagawa ang ginagawa ko and that is because I am an actor.”
“Parang masokista, I continue trying to fail, to get better. When I do a play then I go back to real world, which is film and TV. I felt like there’s growth. I am reborn as an actor,” Cuenca added.
It can be recalled right after doing “Lungs” in 2018, many theater followers were waiting for his next project on stage. Then again, Cuenca had to go back to his “real world” for an afternoon teleserye.
Young up-and-coming actor Gold Aceron has done challenging roles in films. He won the Best Actor award for “Metamorphosis” in the 2019 Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival.
For his theater debut, the character he’s playing is 16-year-old Junjun Salvador, a hormonally charged high school student. During the excerpt performance, in a dimly lit theater, with his back facing the audience, Aceron is seen watching porn and masturbating.
Afterwards, he said he is simply doing research on the human reproductive organs and he is just inspecting his “junior.”
“I am just checking how this is used. Pero nagtataka ako, bakit ang titi ko ay baluktot? May scientific explanation ba?” he said before looking at the audience and asking them: “Sino ba dito ang hindi dumaan sa (masturbation)?”
No one raised a hand in the audience composed of media people but everybody was laughing. He said he is having erections whenever he sees his classmate named Tricia. It baffles him.
“Kasi ako, sawang sawa na ako sa ginagawa ko. Manyak na ba ako? Paano ba malalaman yun? 16 years old pa lang ako. Wala pa akong konsepto ng sekswalidad. Ang hirap…. Para sa mga kabataang tulad ko, ang sex ay kumplikadong konsepto.”
Nil Nodalo plays a 30-year-old transgender named Dayanara May Robles. He said he accepted the role to share awareness about his transgender advocacies.
His monologue goes: “I prefer to be called Rob, Rob Robles. I was born female. Opo, katulad mo, Ate, tama po, babae po. I was 12 when my first menstruation came. I panicked too much. Maling maling mali. Akala ko ano dinudugo sa akin... ‘I hate you, vagina. Menstrual cycle? It will happen regularly.”
“In high school, ligawin ako, di ko alam kung bakit. Pero alam ko sa sarili ko na lalaki ako eh. Dahil 'yun ang aking gender identity, which I learned is how you see your body. Sexual orientation is who you are attracted to. I came out sa pamilya ko on my 18th birthday…
He goes on explaining how hard it is growing up and having an intimate relationship with someone. He recounted his wake-up call was when he was 22 years old. While drinking in a bar and after having too much alcohol, there was a handsome guy who took interest in him.
“There was this beauty who approached me and I was so wasted, he looked like James Reid. Pero alam mo 'yung feeling na tomboy ka na, nababakla ka pa.”
He delivers his monologue in a hospital setting while waiting for the doctor’s call. He has decided to have bottom and breast surgeries.
Nodalo admitted he’s a first-time theater actor and he is very thankful to his fellow actors and to Noble for teaching him step-by-step on how to give justice to the character.
His views on Rob Robles: “The play explains kung ano pinagdadaanan ng mga tao. It’s an eye-opening play because nowadays, we’re used to canceling people for saying the wrong things.”
Makoy Morales, like Jake Cuenca, has done theater before “Dick Talk”. For theater followers, Morales can be remembered as the son in a comedy about a seemingly ordinary but dysfunctional Filipino family titled “Hapag Kainan,” by playwright Rick Patriarca and directed by Chris Martinez at the 2016 Virgin Labfest.
In “Dick Talk,” Morales plays the 27-year-old gay Maria Cecilio de Jesus, nicknamed Cecile de Jesus. He said he got the role because he usually passed by the office of Noble for work and so one day, he was noticed.
“It was almost a no-brainer. When the project was described to me, I went like ‘sapul na sapul’ yung character. I’ve been advocating about this character,” he said.
An excerpt of his monologue goes: “Cecile de Jesus, pwede namang ibang name pero…it’s just a name. I went to an all-boy’s school so imagine the pressure, tuwing may class officers’ elections or sports fest, they always voted for me as the muse.”
“But I am not gay…I’m sure of it…kung alam niyo lang. Maaga akong namulat sa love making.”
He goes on recounting how he lost his virginity to his first girlfriend. Only to be dumped after the intimate act because his sex organ smells like an expensive perfume.
One time, still as Cecile de Jesus, he came upon a tabloid column by Xerex Xaviera.
“Hindi ako 'yun. Feeling ko, kung pinili mo siyang sandata. Tingin nila (men), conqueror sila, warriors, barbarians. What if we change the perspective. Instead of weapon…lifesaver….at hindi bina-base ang manhood kung gaano kadami ang butas napasok.”
Veteran film and TV actor Archi Adamos is the most senior in the cast. He plays 65-year-old Rodolfo “Doodz” Mortiz, whose main concern is having erectile dysfunction.
“Dati naman akong naghubad sa film, may sex scenes. Interesting maging bida kahit sa stage. This is a challenge for me,” he said.
His character, Doodz with a “z” not an “s” as the last letter, has been married for four decades.
Doodz musings go: “I had a big fight with my wife. Ilang linggo pa lang nakakaraan. About 40 years na kaming mag-asawa and I have erectile dysfunction…Kahit hindi tumayo ang aking titi, ako pa rin ang haligi ng aming tahanan.”
Spread the word
“Dick Talk” runs at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium (RCBC Theater), Makati City on April 15 and 16, with 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances; and April 18 to 21, at 8 p.m.
Concept creator .Vinarao said if “Dick Talk” becomes successful, V-Roll could add more characters in the future and bankroll a tour in the provinces.
“This is our first project that is out of the box. We are new and unknown [in the local theater community] but we could produce more original works and look for more talents. What V-Rolll has been doing is bring talents from the provinces to Manila. Now, if we are successful in ‘Dick Talk,” we can bring this not only in places like Cebu or Davao but also abroad.”