Mary Ann Marchadesch writes about the many ways Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted, reworked, translated, performed and updated, in the Philippines and around Asia.
The earliest theatrical performances of the plays were in schools, with the opening of “As You Like It” in the Philippine Normal School and “The Merchant of Venice” in Ateneo de Manila, both in 1910, and the performance of “Julius Caesar” in Silliman Institute (now University) in 1911, all performed with a “ridiculous fidelity,” Dr Ick notes—rote productions with no room for alternative interpretations.
These performances were not solely limited to the elite learning institutions of the time. Provincial high schools also got in on the action, with Batangas High School mounting “The Merchant of Venice” in 1916.
However, of all of Shakepeare’s dramas, none holds more sway over Filipino sensibility and sentimentality than the tragedy of star-crossed lovers in “Romeo and Juliet.” The melodrama of forbidden young love struck—and still strikes—a chord in the Filipino masses, and “Romeo and Juliet” has racked up more adaptations and performances in the Philippines than any other play—from Soto’s Kapampangan adaptation to the awit, “Ang Sintang Dalisay” (1901); the 1917 novel “Bulag and Pagibig” by Pascual de Leon, and Salvador Magno’s “Romeo Kag Julieta” in Cebuano (1932).
Read the full article here.