MANILA -- The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) is bringing back its HIV-themed play "Under My Skin" for a virtual restaging, more than a year after its run was cut abruptly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Veteran actress Cherry Pie Picache returns to lead the streaming cast, with director Melvin Lee still at the helm of the production.
In a recent virtual briefing with the media, Lee talked about the adjustments they made as they filmed "Under My Skin" during the "new normal" so it can be enjoyed by audiences at home.
He said the biggest difference is the use of multiple cameras, which in turn affected the actors' movements on stage.
"We shot the play in sequence... We had three cameras. 'Yung 2 pang-close up, 'yung pangatlong camera para makita 'yung buong stage," he said. "Dahil online na siya, 'yung intention is bigyan 'yung play ng iba't ibang lenses or points of view kung saan lalong maa-appreciate 'yung eksena at 'yung mga characters."
"Challenging siya dahil dati ang iniisip mo lang 'yung blocking sa space na 'yun. Ngayon, meron nang additional medium sa camera," he added.
Despite this, Lee cited how the filming process gave them more room to deal with mistakes in lighting, among others.
"May mga eksena na kapag merong technical problems, like madilim dito, puwedeng mag-cut para i-adjust 'yung ilaw," he said. "'Yung actors na di nahi-hit 'yung marker ng camera, puwede ring i-retake."
"We had the intention of making the video material na maayos, na may standard na malapit sa pelikula, pero meron pa ring feel na at the end of it, what you are still watching is a stage play," he explained.
Picache, for her part, said working on the streaming version of "Under My Skin" is both fun and difficult.
She noted how her many years as a film and television actress worked to her advantage as she already felt comfortable surrounded by cameras, but also acknowledged the challenge of acting in a theater production without a live audience.
"When we shot it for online, siyempre may mga cameras na... So it was more comfortable for me since that's what I've been doing for the longest time. Kabisado ko na 'yung medium," Picache said. "But you also wanted to achieve that feeling na kapag pinanood nila online, you would want the audience to feel na nanonood pa rin sila ng play. So 'yung ganoong kombinasyon."
"Medyo mahirap, masakit sa ulo, and we had the time constraints because we only had one day to shoot everything," she added. "But both experiences were fabulous and amazing, to be able to do it for a live audience and to be able to shoot it for online. Konting adjustments, but they were both wonderful."
"And you know you're doing it for something, for a cause, to educate people and convey a very strong message. Nagpapasalamat ako to be a part of it."
Written by Rody Vera, "Under My Skin" was PETA's last live performance before pandemic-induced lockdowns started in 2020.
The play depicts the realities of people living with HIV, with the aim of spreading awareness and promoting acceptance among its viewers.
Other members of the streaming cast include Eko Baquial, Gio Gahol, Mike Liwag, Jarred Jaicten, Kitsi Pagaspas, Dylan Ray Talon, Dudz Teraña, She Maala, Bene Manaois, Erold Enriquez, Jason Barcial, Joseph Madriaga, Rach Gimpes, Reggie Ondevilla, Roy Dahildahil, Gerard Dy, and Ekis Gimenez.
"Under My Skin" will run from November 26 to 28, and November 30 to December 5, with tickets available at Ticket2Me at P180 for livestream and P250 for video on demand.