This week was CRAZY at the theatre as it always is during tech week. We often worked 12 hour days from 10am to 10pm. Basically the entire show is performed at snail’s pace in costume so that every detail can be set in stone from the placing on stage of the props and the performers to the lighting and sound and the costume and set changes, all timed according to the pace set by the orchestra who in turn is led by the conductor. Besides the on-stage choreography that is mastered weeks before anyone sets a foot on stage, the back-stage choreography is set during tech week and changes at each new theatre. Quick changes mean people are running backstage in darkness and pieces of the set are moving so the theatre can be quite a dangerous place if people don’t respect and watch out for one another. Luckily the cast and crew here at Phantom Manila is extremely professional and everyone takes their jobs seriously. Without mapping out every detail of the show the pace and dynamics would suffer along with the overall effectiveness. The secret of a great show is really what happens backstage to make it all seem effortless on stage.
After a long tech week we finally moved to previews, these are the same as normal shows except that the media have not officially seen the show so they are called previews. Sometimes we do two shows a day so much time is spent in the dressing room messing around relaxing.
At the end of the week we all looked forward to our first Sunday night pool party! Our hotel specially arranged for the pool to be open from 11pm to 2am for us every week on a Sunday so we can all relax and have a cocktail and a swim. Here is video of the crazy cast letting loose.
The next day I headed out for a solo adventure to the Pagsanjan Falls. After a long and stressful week the cast and crew were understandably exhausted so I was on my own but it was still a wonderful experience. A mini van collected me from my hotel and we drove about 2.5 hours out of Manila to the start of the Falls where I could lock my bags away and prepare for the adventure. I got into a really slim boat by myself with a boatman at the front and one at the back. The journey starts and the river is wide with houses and lodges on either bank. I spotted a few kids having fun leaping off their balconies into the water. About 15 minutes pass and then we passed a sign saying Adventure Zone. After this point the river narrows and the banks grow into mountains on either side, covered top to bottom in greenery. The sky was partly cloudy so when the sun shone it turned the leaves and plants above luminous green and the light would catch the spray of the many waterfalls and the wings of the butterflies and dragonflies buzzing around. Leaves would fall from above and create a slow, spiral dance to the river below, it was just so beautiful. I felt like I was in the world of an Avatar.
During rainy season there are more waterfalls than during dry season, I must have passed about 7 or 8, two of which were large and I could feel the refreshing spray on my skin as we glided past. As you go further into the adventure zone the calm waters turn to rapids which the boatman navigate by literally jumping out of the boat and running along the rocks and kicking off them with their feet before jumping back in! I would love to say they do this with practised easy but it does not look easy in the least so let’s just say they do this with practise and you will definitely want to tip them at the end of it. I really wanted to take pictures but I was worried my camera would get wet, also the boat gets dangerously close to the rocks so its best to keep your hands inside the boat. The climax of the trip is the bamboo raft under the waterfall. About 12 of us got out of our boats and sat cross-legged on a bamboo raft that sinks about 10cm once everyone is on – so wear a swimming costume and some board shorts. The boatman then steers the raft toward the largest waterfall by pulling on a rope. We all started oohing and aahing and then screaming as we inched closer to the waterfall where we got soaked by the cascading waters, scary but worth it!
After the Falls I returned to the place I left my bags for lunch. Clam soup, fried chicken, spring rolls and rice, umm hmmm. Next I wandered around the pretty gardens. Most of the tour drivers have to wait 2 hours for their guests to return from the river. To accommodate this the venue has little huts for the drivers to take a nap in, these also provide some great photo opps.
All in all it was a wonderful experience and I am so glad I went.
Here is a video I took while on the water…
Catch my next post about our trip to the Taal Volcano and my hike to Mount Pinatubo!