Even when Kalil Almonte is rehearsing or acting in productions, he still works out for at least an hour and a half every day.
“My body feels lazy when I don’t have rehearsals,” he says.
However, a role he’s reprising provided a challenge.
“For the first few rehearsals, my body had to get used to the choreography again,” he notes. “My muscles felt heavy and there was no grace at all! There are also fight scenes, so it’s really physical. My body hurt after each rehearsal.”
He’s playing Rashiddin (Romeo) in Tanghalang Ateneo’s “Sintang Dalisay,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which will be the Philippine entry to the Third International Experimental Theater Festival in Vietnam this month.
Directed by Ricky Abad, this adaptation is set in a fictional southern Philippine location and incorporates igal, a traditional dance of the Sama-Badjao people, as the movement motif.
Abad and playwright Guelan Luarca converted G.D. Roke’s awit (metrical romance poem) “Ang Sintang Dalisay ni Julieta at Romeo,” which itself adapted Shakespeare’s play into a stage version by supplementing it with Rolando Tinio’s translation of the play.
The adaptation premiered in 2011 and has toured Belarus and Taiwan.
“I last did the role two years ago in Taiwan and it’s been three years since we showed to a Philippine audience, so I am excited to do it again,” says Almonte.
He’s been busy doing other roles in plays such as “Fluid” and “Games People Play.” This year alone, his credits include “Bait” for Virgin Labfest, “Tribes” for Red Turnip, and “Loyalist Redux” for Never Again: Voices of Martial Law.
“A drama professor once told me that when you reread a book at another point in your life, you’ll be affected differently, that it speaks to you differently. I understand that more now as I return to the role. Many things have happened in my personal life that the Romeo speaking about defiance, love and commitment now is so different from the Romeo back then,” he says.
How does he keep in shape for the demands of the stage, especially the dramatic, highly stylized and choreographed part of Rashiddin?
“My regimen is simple. I just lift weights and use whatever machines or equipment are available in the gym,” he says. “I actually work out more intensely when I have productions.”
He eats rice for brunch; none for the rest of the day. “As much as possible, brown rice. If it’s not available, then only a half-cup of white rice. Rice talaga nagpapalaki ng tiyan,” he notes.
Audiences will have a chance to see Almonte’s reinterpretation of the character when “Sintang Dalisay” starts its homecoming run in Quezon City this December.
Meanwhile, he’s happy to be reunited with the cast: “There’s nothing else like being with longtime friends again.”
Tasha Tañada plays Jamilla (Juliet); the cast also includes Gel Basa, Charles Yee, Joe-nel Garcia and Cindy Lopez. Edu Abraham (musical director), Dan Liamco and Jayson Gildore are the accompanying musicians.
“Sintang Dalisay” has set and costume design by the late National Artist Salvador Bernal, and choreography by Matthew Santamaria. The igal master teachers who trained the cast include Calsum Telso, Dalino Kamamihare, Nur Pergon, Abdul Hailaya, Al-Shadat Mohammad, Basar Jalaidi and Munir Jawadil. —CONTRIBUTED