Rap musical ‘William’ bags multiple ‘Gawad Buhay’ awards

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By Anna Valmero

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA— The Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) has emerged as the biggest winner at the 2011 Philstage Gawad Buhay awards, bringing home a total of thirteen wins for two of its box office hits, “Care Divas” and “William.”

“William,” a rap musical about Shakespeare’s works, won seven top prizes including Outstanding Play, Outstanding Ensemble Performance for a Play, Outstanding Original Script for Ron Capinding, and Outstanding Stage Direction for PETA artistic director Maribel Legarda.

The play also bagged most of the acting awards, namely Outstanding Male Lead Performance for Ian Segarra, Outstanding Female Featured Performance for Meann Espinosa, and Outstanding Male Featured Performance for Jojo Atienza.

Meanwhile, Care Divas, a comedy-drama about five Filipino transvestite caregivers in Israel who moonlight as glamorous entertainers, won five awards.

William was launched as a primer for high school students who may fear Shakespeare or may not know the “Bard of Avon” at all. During its short run last year, the rap successfully engaged students and captured the interest of local theatergoers and even hit international news.

Director Maribel Legarda shared that the concept treatment for William came from FlipTop, a Pinoy rap battle league known across the country. “In many ways, rap is poetry,” Legarda said.

“I brought in rap and hip-hop as the contemporary voice and language of young people today. I hope that Shakespeare’s poetry and today’s rap find a point of conversation and evolve into engaging dialogue and drama.”

The cast of William trained under a true Tondo rapper, Shielbert Manuel, a.k.a O.G. Sacred who has appeared in the 2007 Cinemalaya Best Picture, “Tribu,” an indie film by Jim Libiran.

The rap performances, choreographed by John Tan of the Urban Dance Crew, are topped with hip-hop moves like crumping and breakdance, while also adding ballroom and jazz hip-hop.

Through “William”, PETA aims to help audiences overcome their fear of the English playwright and poet.

With the opening of classes this year, PETA decided to rerun William in hopes of making Shakespeare a familiar friend rather than someone to fear, thus replacing “Shakes-fear” into “Shakes-peer,” said Legarda.

“William” runs at The PETA Theater Center from July 27 to 29 at 10:000 a.m. and 3:00 p.m, with tickets at P350 for regular sears and P500 for VIP seats. For inquiries, contact PETA at (02) 725-6244, 0917-5765400, or email petatheater@gmail.com.

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