’m still at awe at how the actors had delivered that afternoon.
Sunday, May 18, I was debating as to whether I would go and watch the play Tuesdays with Morrie, a Repertory Philippines production. The venue is quite far and I don’t know if I would actually make it on time with all the traffic in the metro. We are scheduled for a KRA review the following day, all the more reason that I should stay at the office and work on my presentation. But I have that nagging voice inside my head telling me of just go and watch. And so I did.
It took me an hour to reach Insular Building in Alabang from the Taguig Office. I was a bit exhausted since a walk is needed from the highway. There was no jeepney passing in front of the building. A sudden feeling of anxiety enveloped me as I entered the building. It spells elite. Add to that the people entering it. They were all dressed up in chic dresses and classy tops. I felt like a peasant next to them.
I hurriedly bought my ticket as the receptionists were already calling for people to enter the auditorium. The audi was quite small but big enough for a theatrical performance that is personal and could easily get into the characters.
And then the play started. Mitch (Bart Guingona) came out first and had accounts of his undergraduate life. He introduced his favorite professor, Morrie (played by Jose Mari Avellana) with such vigor. And they each recounted their lives together when Mitch was still a student and Morrie is his teacher, building the story.
And the big news of Morrie’s illness was out. Morrie has ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease (research about it if you guys are interested). Mitch heard about it when he was browsing through TV channels looking for a good show. Afterwhich he called up Morrie just to know how he is. The conversation led to Mitch promise of a visit. It was 16 years when Mitch left college. Leaving the portals of school, he also left Morrie a promise, that he would be staying in touch. But he didn’t.
And Mitch knows how Morrie loves to be hugged. He loves “feeling”. I guess when one is near death, one needs to be touched so as to be reminded that he is still alive.
Morrie’s deterioration showed, transitioning from using a cane to later a wheelchair and then, just sitting on a chair where his feet could only be moved by his upper amenities, and then he was stuck to his death bed. And all these were witnessed by Mitch as he visit Morrie, every Tuesday. First, it felt like obligation to Mitch, visiting Morrie every Tuesday and not attend to his fast-paced life as a sports writer. It was like attending school again and his assignment are questions he wants Morrie to answer. Each visit, Mitch brought food but it later found that it was all stuck to the ref since Morrie had a hard time eating alone and later, eating solids. In his alone moments, Morrie showed his self pity to the audience but when he faces Mitch it was the beautiful side of life, living and dying that he showed and teach his student.
Soon, the obligation turned to anticipated visits.
And each session, Mitch finds himself asking the questions about life, of dreams, of death. I loved the part when Morrie told Mitch that he had an living eulogy from his friends and colleagues. "A what?", Mitch asked him. And he explained that it is entirely useless to say good things of the person when he could no longer hear and appreciate it. So thus, he had a living eulogy.
And during the last days of Morrie, Mitch was at his side. He never left his mentor. And I love how it ends really, Morrie standing up from his deathbed, get into the center and danced into the music that he only hears (that music is produced at the other side of the stage by Mitch)... Of course at that time, I assume that he is dead and is already at bliss in the hands of his Creator.
And then Jose Mari Avellana slowly slowed down, went to the side of his bed. I could hear from an audience a lady coming towards the stage saying "Oh no!" And then Avellana was down. When Bart Guingona finally realize the comotion, he was rushing toward's Avellana's side and was apologizing to the audience that they could not finish the play and Avellana is sick. And the family came rushing towards the stage while the rest of the audience were at a shock of what is happening. Some were asking if there was a doctor in the house, some was going out to tell the production staff to call ambulance, while Guingona was asking to turn-off the stage lights.
I went out of the auditorium, to lessen the comotion, not knowing if he made it or not. I hope he did as i really want to see him in other plays. I just love the man and his art. Really splendid!!!
There is a repeat of Tuesday's with Morrie. And Avellana is not playing Morrie. :( Hope he is well.