Flying high with ‘M Butterfly’

It definitely ended on a high note -- that is most certain. The RS Francisco headlined and reincarnated production of M Butterfly did not only aroused the curiosities of the theater  going public, it also created a buzz and a tempest of sorts as the David Henry Hwang play seduced everyone who saw it at the BGC Performing Arts Center.  

The stage play mounted and produced by Frontrow Entertainment and Jhett Tolentino is based on the story of a French diplomat duped by an opera singer-turned spy as written by David Henry Hwang.

One of the reasons why it truly ended with a bang and not with a stage whisper, per a post in their official Facebook page, “Tallying up the final and official amount, but at this point, it’s safe to say that we have raised more than P10M for charity. Thank you to all who have joined us in this amazing journey.”

Adding more bang-bang, of course, is Hwang’s appreciation of the production, “Beautiful rendition of the show. The iconic performance by RS Francisco which matches any Song Liling and tops so many that I’ve seen in the last 30 years.”

He declared, during an intimate press conference held prior to the final show, “I usually don’t go to see productions of M Butterfly outside New York but I’ve had to see this one because the Philippines has a special place in my heart. My mom grew up here in Manila. My family has been in the Philippines, three to four generations of them. When I was a kid, I used to come visit my grandparents in Cebu. So I always found an excuse to come to Manila. “

Flying high with ‘M Butterfly’
 'M Butterfly' leads Olivier Borten and RS Francisco 
Hwang added, “RS has this iconic legendary performance of Song Liling that even in the States we knew about and heard about. And I didn’t get a chance to see it in 1990. So the fact that he was gonna do it again and I would be able to revisit this play that has become legendary is another great reason to be here, even if it is just for a few days.”

Hwang staved his thoughts about the Manila production, “It’s a beautiful production. I think that all the theatrical elements are beautifully put together. The opera singer is pretty fantastic.”

“I’m very proud of it,” he carried on. “I really like the impressionistic aspect of the production. It’s like a montage of the different characters, it’s very powerful. I like the way the production created a vision of what’s going on in Gallimard’s mind. That sets the tone for the seamless recreation of a man struggling to understand his predicament.”

Incidentally, it was announced that M Butterfly will have a five-city tour – Iloilo, Davao, Cebu, Dumaguete and Baguio starting Jan. 21 touring shows are already confirmed.

RS Francisco’s reaction to all these, “28 years ago, when I first did the role, at that time, I just did it because I’m an actor, I simply read my line. So every time I got praises like ‘R.S. you’re so good!’ I’d say thank you sincerely and humbly but deep inside, I said ‘Are you serious? I’m too young and I’m just pretending to be old for the role.  I really didn’t believe myself back then. When we stopped running in 1992, I promised myself there will come a time that I will be age appropriate for Song Liling.”

Manila’s Song Liling incarnate ended our conversation with, “I believed that my performance of Song Liling now is more layered, nuanced and textured. You know, I’ve gone through so much, the ups and downs I’ve encountered. As a person, all my life experiences honed me, it sharpened me and that’s why there are so many emotions I can put out now.”

M Buttefly flies and flutters again, very, very soon! It is truly worth the wait!

Topics: RS Francisco , David Henry Hwang , M Butterfly , Jhett Tolentino
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