My junior English majors’ theatrical adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” is a manifestation of the degree to which my students understand and apply what they learned out of two years of tutelage under me. It was beyond my imagination that lessons on postmodernism, postcolonialism and Aristotelian poetics will figure in that explosive production. Perhaps you ask, “What is Little Gapanese talking about?”
First, the play turned out postmodern by way of inserting numbers (dance, etc) in order to fragmentize the plot. It would have been easy if the class just spoonfed the audience, but the latter might as well be driven to piece out the puzzle in order to form the larger whole. The insertions were there supposedly to alienate the audience regarding the gaps in the progressing story. I know, it’s so Bollywoodish, but why go far when our classic Tagalog movies were given to scenes of singing and dancing in the middle of a chase or a funeral episode?
Second, the indigenization of a French text in English translation was meant to provide familiarity to the audience. I pointed out to my students that French terms are spelled in such a way that their pronunciation is different. To give it a Philippine touch, the class grounded the story in the local setting, the dance hall turning into the recognizable Malacanang Palace and the promenade, into our beloved Luneta. The minister of Education is rightfully Jesli Lapuz, and where would our wretched protagonist haggle over cheap vegetables and double-dead meat except in a dingy, noisy talipapa?
Finally, Aristotle’s anagnorisis (or realization in the end, a classic take on James Joyce’ epiphany) was present. When I saw the play’s teasers posted around the obscure college, I was taken aback by the mention of the term. I thought, if the prospective audience would be led into concluding that the story is going to end tragically (who doesn’t know that? Maupassant’s stories are canonical readings), the screenings might be snubbed. Fortunately, the strange term turned out rather intriguing, so the stage presentation was well received.
Congratulations, junior English majors namely Cris, Chan, Che, Wheng, Teng, Kel, Jen, Bacs! I love the colorful sets and costumes, and the varying emotions that our homegrown actress showed from the vain beautiful lady that Madam Loisel was to the impoverished woman that she turned into. Thanks to the Math majors and the Elementary Education students who assisted in the performance and technical productions. My delight was such that I grooved nonstop not to the campy “Dito Ba?” but to Rhianna’s “Disturbia.”