Crafting plays about Rizal and Shakespeare | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Theatergoers are familiar with Ronan “Ron” Capinding as an actor.  Capinding has devised two productions that aim to make two different “classic” figures and their work more accessible to younger audiences: Philippine Educational Theater Association’s “William” and Tanghalang Ateneo’s “Para Los Jovenes: Mga Kuwentong Pangkabataan ng Nakatatandang Rizal.”

For Peta’s 44th season opener, he uses this experience to craft a play that uses rap, hip-hop and fliptop to introduce the Bard’s immortal characters to young audiences.

“William” is about a group of high school students who are forced to study the Bard.

“Rap is one of the closest simulation of delivered poetry,” he says.  “Fliptop, a fiery debate in rap, is the modern version of balagtasan (verse duels), and it’s very popular with teenagers, as revealed by the hits in YouTube.”

“One of the main objectives of the play is to present how these Filipino-speaking youngsters reconcile with Shakespeare’s English.”

Video games, mixed martial arts

For Tanghalang Ateneo, he’s written about a group of college students who start off complaining about having had to study Rizal’s novels “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” in high school.

They then present four of Rizal’s children’s stories and execute them “in forms that appeal to the young of today like game shows, talk shows, reality shows, mixed martial arts, animé, video games, sexy scenes, violent scenes, musical a la-“Glee,” etc.”

“I’ll be staging the stories in a way that aims to disturb and provoke teenagers and young adults.

Eschewing labels

Capinding notes that his work in translation has helped him “significantly in understanding how the classic and celebrated plays work.”

“I’ve always been a ‘deviser’—devised plays being ones that owe most of their lines to other previously existing texts; scripts that need to cite many sources,” he says.

“Devising is more in the realm of directing, when a director uses a nonplay text to come up with something dramatic and worth watching. The director can use and translate into performance the text of a telephone directory, a cook book or a lab report, and, by his capacity to bring out the irony, organic unity, dramatic arch in the performance of these texts, he produces a play.”

“But this doesn’t mean the authors of those nonplay texts have accidentally and unwittingly become playwrights or play devisers. Those who intend to write plays for directors to stage, whether they use existing sources or just their intuition, are playwrights.”


“I just write plays. I bring out things that I’ve gathered through experiences, conversations, studying, and/or research. With my experience as an actor, I see and hear the characters as I am writing them.  I also know what lines roll well in the tongue.  With my experience as a teacher, I am very conscious of my audience.  I know what line or picture or action will move them, make them laugh, make them think.

“I usually write my thoughts randomly until I feel irritated by the mess and organize them into cohesive scenes.  Then I set a whole day or night to complete a first draft.  Then I’ll read it again and again, put improvements here and there, as long as I am allowed to.  I think I can forever improve a play; it’s only the deadline that makes me stop.”

Peta’s “William” runs until Sept. 25 at Peta Theater Center, 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City. Contact 7256244, 4100821, 0917-5765400; e-mail

Tanghalang Ateneo’s “Para Los Jovenes” runs Sept. 21-24 at 3/F, Gonzaga Hall, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. Contact 0927-7522027.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.