So there we were. Ten years later, running around hours before the concert, hauling lighting and sound equipment 5 floors up to VOCAS, buying cases of beer to be sold at P40 each during the show so we can have free booze for ourselves at the end of the performance, xeroxing copies of the repertoire.
Ten years later we didn't have to rent everything we needed anymore - though our very own sound system still wasn't enough for the concert, we didn't need to rent lights: we had to make do with our dozen or so par 38's and 8-channel dimmer board.
Ten years later there are a lot of new faces, and a few old ones, but the last few months blurred the line between the two - everybody felt like everybody's old friend.
Ten years later, half of the cast came in an hour late for the 3pm call time, so our sound check started at 4:30. That's ok.
Ten years later, and a few days' rehearsals later, we were ready to begin, so I went up the stage and asked everyone to rise for the National Anthem. And then, the opening remarks...
Halfway through, someone interrupts my speech from the backrow, I looked for the culprit and found him seated at the steps, looking really wasted. Ferdie got up, excused himself for being rude, and came straight up on stage. I gave him a mic.
"F*ck you, I'm not a drug addict... sorry I had to interrupt you tonight... here's the situation: I need your money... I could have a knife up to your throat right now, but I don't wanna do that... the only difference between you and me is that you're on the ups and I'm on the downs, underneath it all we're exactly the same, we're both human beings... I am a human being... I say f*ck you, I'm not a drug addict..."
For a while the performers onstage were worried that I was gonna lose my temper and maybe just drag Ferdie off the stage, until they saw me mouthing the exact words Ferdie was saying. It was from "Grace of God", one of the monologues in "Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll". Our very first production in Baguio, back in 1996.
Ferdie ends his bit, I continued with my speech. Ethan hands over the acoustic guitar to Arkhe who in turn hands it to me... we opened the show with one of the very first songs I composed, "Awit sa Bata," from the play about children's rights I wrote in 2000. We also did "Taguan" and "Dakila Ka" to my amatuerish guitar playing with the help of Ethan on his electric guitar.
And then there was the "Pangarap" suite... followed by "Once on this Island" and "Jesus Christ Superstar." For our encore, the group sang "Why We Tell The Story" from "Once on this Island." After ten years of telling stories, it felt really good singing that song.
Rewind performed a set of Reggae songs afterwards, and I just had to join them on the conggas, and in a moment everybody was on their feet dancing. Later the gongs came out and so did Kawayan who started a bonfire in the middle of the dance floor.
Ten years, a few cases of beer, countless bottles of GSM Blue, lots of handshakes and hugs and kisses... How can I possibly get out of this insane, noble, harsh, wonderful, magical, infinite world of artistic possibilites that is theater?