Fil-Am stars in one-act play 'Sesar' in New York

Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Oct 27 2018 03:33 AM

NEW YORK - At first glance, Shakespeare, a Filipino, and the Visayan language have nothing in common. 

But a new play in New York called "Sesar" is about to answer that question on how a Visayan boy discovered and fell in love with Shakespeare inside a bathroom.

"Sesar" is a one-man play about a 14-year-old Visayan boy, his curiosity, and new found love of poetry and Shakespeare.

All of these happened inside a bathroom in their home in Fiji as exiles from the Philippines during the martial law.

Partly based on real-life events, Filipino-American playwright and performer Orlando Pabotoy said just like the boy in "Sesar," he first discovered and was captivated by a Shakespearian speech on a television show.

After watching an exerpt of Julius Caesar on The Cosby Show, the boy locked himself in a bathroom to make sense of Shakespeare's famous tragedy.

"He discovers the underlying world of Julius Caesar and is helped by his father through his background in politics and having gone through martial law and revolution has a very specific insight to that world," Pabotoy said.

The play, he said, is about honoring that moment - his first connection to the world of Shakespeare, the language, and poetry.

"I did make it a secret. I was in the bathroom during that time, reciting it and by saying it out loud. I discovered things. There’s a difference between reading a text without speaking it and when you speak it, there’s a different understanding because you hear your own voice," Pabotoy added.

In the play, the audience will discover a connection between his family's escape from the Marcos' dictatorial rule in the Philippines to the reign of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar.

"Sesar" director and Julliard acting teacher Richard Feldman said the questions raised by the play speaks to everyone across history.

"There’s certain universal truths about it. The struggle around power and the possibility and danger of revolution and civil war, questions of ambition, questions of choice. What should a man or woman do under certain situations. What they owe to their friends versus what they owe to their country versus what they owe to their family," he said.

"Sesar" runs until November 1 at the Theater Row in Times Square.