Photos by Angel Pua
A song is but a prose disguised as a poem, recited in melody.
MINTeatro, MINT’s Theater organization, staged James Christy’s “Egyptian Song” last November 9-10 here at the MINT Playhouse, as their first production for the semester. The play was anchored on the story of Zahia, a rising Egyptian singer, and her brother, Nahal, as they tackled the struggles of Egyptian women.
The audience filled in seats circled on an empty space in the middle, which served as the “stage”. Throughout the entire show, only two actors shared the spotlight: one girl and one boy.
The actors were mainly introduced as ‘Zahia’ and ‘Nahal’ respectively, but each of them portrayed all of the other characters within the story. Although challenging, the actors were able to distinctly shift from role to role. The show was a staged reading, which made the actors’ storytelling more captivating, turning the play into a living, breathing art.
Kyanna Villaruel, MINT-SHS Theater student, who played ‘Zahia’, was grateful for the experience. “Egyptian Song is such a beautiful piece to work on. I found the message so powerful that I was honestly afraid I wouldn’t relay this enough. It was harder than I expected, but after everything, it was all worth it. As Zahia, I had a chance to breathe life into such an innocent and wonderful character,” she shares.
Jam Pangilinan, a sophomore MINT Multimedia Arts student, and the ‘Nahal’ to Kyanna’s ‘Zahia’, shares, “I've always worked behind the scenes for theater productions, and Egyptian Song was my first ever theater gig. I guess I [kind of] feel like Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War. It was massive and stressful, but I've learned so much and grown tenfold along the way. Acting was exhilarating, and I'm excited to keep sharing these experiences with such great people.”
Grade 11 Theater student, Rafael Jimenez, who also plays ‘Nahal’, felt very lucky to have worked on Egyptian Song. “I find it such an important story, and it's very personal to me. It was the most difficult play that I had to do as an actor, but it was so worth it in the end. Our cast and crew all did a beautiful job and I'm really proud of what we were able to bring to the table.”
“The only way that I overcame all the stress and pressure was by thinking that at the end of the play, my perseverance and hard work would be worth it, and I would create something I would be proud of and would remember for the rest of my life,” says another Grade 12 Theater student, Xabrina Aquino, who graced the stage as ‘Zahia’ along with Jimenez. “I learned that you can do almost anything if you set your mind and heart to it,” she adds.
For Kiefer Sison, another MINT-SHS Theater student, and the show’s director, the hardest part of the production was making the piece “fully resonate with an audience outside of the locale of the story.”
“I had to make it universal and powerful. In essence, I had to carry on the playwright’s vision and message. I wanted everyone to learn more about the reality beyond the play that you saw,” he explains.
For him, the issues raised by the play still persisted up to this day. He believes that through theater, people can learn to understand the world better, adding that, “At the end of the day, we tell stories to teach. We tell them to inspire. We tell them to change. [...] To be able to do that, that’s more than I can ever wish for.”
Sison closes these thoughts by saying that the play is not finished yet, and he hopes that the lessons it shared won’t stop with the curtain call. Indeed, with a beautiful production that pushed boundaries and took risks, “Egyptian Song” won’t be remembered as a mere play, but a glimpse of the true stories that still persist today, resonating among the people who watched it. W
Meg Mangoba is a singer-songwriter, slowly making her way into the music industry. Aside from music, she loves food, dogs, taking naps, and daydreaming about the future.
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