My bias against foreign theater works staged in the local has grown through the years. The possibilities for original theater work will never be realized if we don’t take the risk of staging it, more deliberately and consistently. On the upside, there is an untapped resource of a handful of people doing really good adaptations of foreign works, old and new, a productive and critical way of taking something distant and different, and making it familiar and relevant in this context. Done well, with a very clear sense of the value of the original, and how it can speak to a wider audience in the here and now, the adaptation cradles a creative spirit that is not only relevant, but can also be very powerful.
This is the inevitable context of Mula Sa Buwan, an independent production, being restaged in 2018, now in the context of a theater scene that struggles to deal with a state of the nation that allows little for leisure expenses, even less for theater. After all, when films remain as cheaper alternative and more accessible option, why would you spend on theater?
But maybe the question isn’t why, but when. It is when the theater production is originally Filipino, even as it is twice removed from an original, even when the original text seems so far gone from where we are. Mula Sa Buwan is a musical based on Soc Rodrigo’s translation into Filipino of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. What it remains is this: it’s the story of a protagonist who is on the one hand confident in his intellect, but insecure about his looks. Of course this means an unrequited love, as it does mean the ability to love so willingly and humbly, that life and limb don’t matter.
It is a love story. And it is no surprise that this is what is sold about this production — it is what will bring audiences in. But what should be said about Mula Sa Buwan is that it is more than that.