By Arnel Ramos
A Theater Arts student from the University of the Philippines, JC Santos believes that performing on stage and perfecting your craft thru real-life experience is the best education one can get hold in life.
In last year’s gay-themed film Esprit de Corps, theater actor JC Santos, matched another stage thespian, Sandino Martin every step of the way. Little wonder then that JC’s performance as the stern cadet officer clinched an Urian Best Actor nomination for him. He is appearing in another indie production that will be shown next year yet but he will always go back to where his heart is – the stage. JC will be part of Children’s Play for Adults, a twin bill of the original Filipino plays Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng mga Tala and Games People Play to be staged at the Power Mac Spotlight at Circuit Makati through a limited eight-show run from December 12 to 20.
“There isn’t (much) money in theater, but the real compensation comes in the form of personal satisfaction,” says JC, who certainly looks better in person. His hair now a little longer than it was in Esprit… worn in the currently hip man bun. The young man knows whereof he speaks. He has spent some time in New York to study musical theater and also went to Hong Kong Disneyland and Universal Studios in Singapore, to work as a stage performer. JC has enough credit to teach the Enrique Gils of this world how to go beyond knitting the brows to denote emotions.
Children’s Play for Adults director Ed Lacson, Jr. agrees with his actor. A stint at a CCP directing workshop kicked off Ed’s love affair with theater but the interest was sparked way earlier than that as a little boy who would mount improvised theater productions at home with “mga kumot” and other stuff he could get his hands on as props. “It (theater) is addictive. The joy in doing theater comes from being able to create and build a world out of your own imagination. It sticks with you and humbles you at the same time because you recognize that it is a collaborative effort.”
Eljay Castro Deldoc’s Si Maria Isabella debuted in this year’s Virgin Labfest. In its Power Mac run, the play stars Krystelle Valentino (who made an impression as the girl on the verge of adulthood in the Cinemalaya gem Purok 7), Rafael Tibayan, Ian Santos and Jay-R Sanchez. The second play Games People Play is written by repeat Palanca winner Glenn Sevilla Mas. It presents three people who try to understand themselves by revisiting the childhood games they played. It is in the second one that JC is featured as one of the three friends who look back on the kind of lives they have lived so far. The challenge of the role, says JC, is “I will also play the 8-year-old version of my character.”
JC’s openness as an actor and ability to provide nuance to his playing – and spell the word correctly, to boot – makes him a director’s dream of an actor and a thinking viewer’s notion of what a performer should be. When asked for his own reading on Esprit de Corps, he replies: “It’s about the fluidity of sexuality. The theme is very complex.” And that was un-coached, mind you.
JC doesn’t have qualms about nudity, gay roles, and gay-themed movies. He even reminds us that in Esprit, he locked lips with his three male co-stars namely Sandino Martin, Lharby Policarpio, and Garry Lim. “People shouldn’t be labeled,” JC remarks. And perhaps in an ideal industry, the same should water – that of actors not being categorized as “pang-indie,” “pang-leading man,” “pang-character” parts. A ham is a ham in the same manner that a good actor is a good actor. No ifs, no buts.
Children’s Play for Adults is a production of Bit by Bit Company with Hero Blueberry & West, a creative and events company.