Rivalry is Equality: A reading of signs in The 4th Wall Theatre Company’s Rivalry: Ateneo-La Salle The Musical


Final paper for Theatre class

 

On March 10, 2012, Saturday, Rivalry: Ateneo-La Salle The Musical was staged at the Meralco Theatre in Ortigas, Pasig City. The 4th Wall Theatre Company did the musical; Jaime del Mundo directed it. It was a wonderful musical which the auther recommends to everyone if only it were still showing. The last showing was the following day, the 11th. It was a very fun musical as the Ateneans cheered and clapped when the Atenean characters in the musical took a jab at the Lasallites, and vice versa. An advantage of watching the play close to the last staging date is the lack of audience members. One can get the cheapest tickets and end up sitting in the most expensive seats.

Rivalry was set in 1968, around the time of the (then) NCAA Men’s Basketball Finals. It was about two families: the blue-blooded Valencias and the green-blooded Basilios. Paco Valencia was the star and captain of the Ateneo Blue Eagles and his cousin Tommy Basilio was the star and captain of the De La Salle Green Archers. Quito Valencia, Paco’s brother, was also an Atenean but he was not as hardcore as his dad and brother when it came to the whole school rivalry. In fact he was against it because the two sides of his family just could not get along because of, in his eyes, the “stupid rivalry”. Quito meets this girl from Maryknoll (now Miriam College), Reena San Jose and instantly falls madly in love with her. The problem was, he was too torpe to even approach her and talk to her. What he does is he goes to his sweet-talking-ladies-man of a cousin Tommy and asks him to get to know Reena and introduce them. The problem was, Reena was so pretty that Tommy could not resist until it eventually ended up that Reena was already falling for Tommy. This made Quito mad and for a while he “believed” in the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry because of how his Lasallite of a cousin betrayed him. To cut the long story short, Tommy was able to make it up to Quito and he and Reena were still able to become really close friends. Then one day, when Quito was in a rally protesting for a cause, he got shot. The two families visited him at the hospital and that was where things started patching up. Messers. Valencia and Basilio, still with high levels of pride, began talking to one another. This was the day of the NCAA Finals and when Paco and Tommy left the hospital, they admitted how the other inspired each one to become a “better man”.

The play was funny and entertaining but at the same time it was deep. Rivalry was a musical which show cased Filipino talent. It was a pure Filipino production. Filipinos wrote the script and the songs, directed the whole musical, acted, and produced the whole thing without the help of foreigners. Also, it went deeper than just showing a rivalry between schools as its characterization showed how human beings are equal no matter where they come from or who they are.

Setting

The play was set in 1968 at around the time of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Finals. This only further proves that the musical is fictional because in 1968, neither of these teams won the championship. It was Mapua who won the 1968 crown. Also, at this time, Ateneo and De La Salle were not rivals yet. It was Ateneo and San Beda College and De La Salle and Colegio de San Juan de Letran. The Ateneo-De La Salle rivalry began in the early years of the NCAA (20s – 50s) but it was a rivalry in soccer, not basketball. The schools’ rivalry in basketball only really began in the UAAP in the late 80s. However, the director chose this setting because rivalries were very much alive and his current audience will not be able to relate if it had been Ateneo and San Beda or De La Salle and CSJL because currently, the only rivals left are really just between Ateneo and De La Salle.

Characters

(Quito and Reena)

The characters played a huge part in showing equality in the play. For example, the Maryknoll girls: all of them were wearing their school uniforms—composed of a white blouse and green skirts. All of them were wearing the same thing except for Reena; she wore a red jacket along with her uniform and this symbolized her standing out from the rest of her classmates. The average Maryknoll girl was a basketball fan, crushed on Tommy and the rest of the Green Archers as told by the song “Give Me a Lasallite Please”, and went to Quiapo every weekend to see the team and have halo-halo. Reena was different, however. She did not have any interest in basketball, it did not matter to her that the Green Archers were handsome, let alone that Tommy was the star and captain of his team, and she did not like going to Quiapo on weekends just to see (more like stalk) the players over halo-halo. She preferred staying at home, reading her book, and studying her lessons in school. She was a deep person who was focused on her career and her future. However, as the story developed, it would be seen that Reena eventually gave in. She began to like Tommy and after a few dates she was so into him that she was even watching his basketball games. She completely fell for him but unfortunately for her, this was the time Quito found out about how his cousin had betrayed him which is why Tommy began to distance himself from Reena. Because of this, it was very evident that it does not matter if a person is intelligent and deep. In this case, Reena turned into someone who was just another Maryknoll girl, in other words, gaga over a basketball superstar.

Quito was a similar case but he was different. If Reena was cool because she preferred basketball over reading, Quito was criticized for liking reading instead of basketball. Quito did not have any major heartfelt conversations with his father at any moment in the play. The director did this in order to show that the Mr. Valencia’s favorite was clearly Paco. It was for no other special reason but because he was a member of the Blue Eagles, and the captain at that. Quito would always rant about how it is all basketball in the family; that he never heard the end of it from his dad or his brother. It even got to a point in the play wherein Paco pretty much disowned Quito as his own brother. No matter how obsessed Paco was with basketball and no matter how much Quito disagreed with his brother and his father’s ways, he loved them both. Looking closely, being criticized for reading instead of playing basketball, Quito can be classified as a nerd. Combined with the inability to approach girls and talk to them, he was practically a loser. In the end however, Quito still managed to get Reena, the girl of his dreams and the one looked up to by the whole Maryknoll student body.

Paco and Tommy

Another pair of characters which showed how equality was shown in the play was Paco and Tommy. They were both stars of their teams and led their teams to the finals. Paco was the typical jock: his world practically revolved around basketball and his eyes were fixed on the prize—the NCAA Championship trophy. He also had quite a temper which got him into plenty of fights. To name a few instances, in their semi-final game against Mapua, someone threw a plastic bottle at him. Right after the game Paco and his team mates found and beat the guy up. Also, when Quito was shot, he wanted to find out who it was so that he could beat the guy up. Tommy was the kind of jock that people also like to call “the ladies’ man”. He was a heartthrob; all the Maryknoll girls had their eyes on him. He was the only child in their family which is why he became close to Quito. Tommy treated Quito as his own little brother. Quito was closer to Tommy than he was with Paco because with contrary to Paco, Quito could talk to Tommy about a lot of other things aside from basketball. Whenever Tommy talked about basketball, Quito could tell him off and he would listen but with Paco that was impossible. Paco was more self-centered but Tommy listened to Quito’s problems. At the end of the day, no matter how much Paco and Tommy “hated” each other, they admitted to admiring one another. It was just sad that Quito had to get shot before they began to have actual conversations with one another but nevertheless, they were able to patch things up and set things straight between them. Where is the equality here? It is in the reward that each one got—the reward of finally having the peace of not having a grudge against his cousin just because he was in a rival school. It is not as straight to the point as Quito and Reena’s situation but Paco and Tommy equally shared peace between them.

Acting

Another great aspect of the play was the acting. Because it was a play between Ateneo and De La Salle, the director used a lot of “split screens”. The actors would be in the middle part of the stage and the two teams would be separated by an imaginary line. For example, before the semi-final game, both teams were in the locker room discussing strategies for the upcoming game. However, since everyone was looking forward to an Ateneo – De La Salle championship game, both teams were looking towards that direction as well. They mentioned their respective opponents in passing but in such a way that it seemed as if they were surely going to bag the victory. And because they were talking about the finals already, it seemed as if the two teams were talking to one another. The lights were not dimmed on one half of the stage to allow the other half to speak; lights were always on and teams spoke in an alternating manner, again as if talking to each other.

Another instance of this “split screen” effect was when Paco and Tommy were hanging out in the basketball court, both anxious of their next game, because it was slowly becoming the most important game in their lives. They were moving all over the stage and they even had one ball they were “sharing” with each other. However, it was clear that they were there at different times. The director did it this way in order to engage the audience more. It really caught my attention that they were on stage at the same time, in reality they were seeing each other but because it was a musical, to their characters’ knowledge, they were alone at that particular time.

The musical was practically a comedy but it was plain genius—the way the writers and the director were able to entertain their audience but at the same time take a few lessons home with them. The characters showed equality: Quito and Reena showed that who a person is or where he came from does not matter. Quito was typical torpe, and Reena was typical dream girl for Quito but in the end they ended up together because everyone is equal. Reena thought she was stuck with Tommy, that she was just like the other Maryknoll girls and Quito thought that Reena was too good for him and he had no chance but once they got to know each other, it was as like a spark in a barrel of gas. The fire which represented their passion for one another which they ignited was so big that nobody could extinguish it anymore.

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