Jst a small warning: this bloggy thingy meanders a bit, but it still retains some value, so be patient. I hope it is at least a little interesting. I promise something even better a more to the point next time!
Last night (Sunday), a group of students, including myself traipsed over to Culver City to see Jessica Hagedorn’s novel Dogeaters on stage. And let me tell you, if you didn’t go, you missed out. In any case, I’d like to discuss a few discrepancies between the versions on stage, on paper and in my head.
The first character that comes to mind in regard to differences between book, stage and mind, is the German film maker. In the book he plays a necessary, but relatively small role in comparison to other characters. He is described as pasty white in complexion and overweight – not terribly attractive to Joey, but his money and drugs hold quite a bit of importance (pg #? i've misplaced my book!). Similarly, in my mind, he was a side character of menial significance and looked akin to a very heavy, white tourist-type man visiting Huntington Beach from New Hampshire. Contrastingly, in the play, the German is Joey’s only client whereas there are several different men, most notably the American soldier. In addition, the actor playing the German did not fit the image I had in my head. The actor was rather slight, though not skinny and had long, dark, straight hair. When the German first entered, I did not recognize his character because I had pictured him so differently in my head. Joey’s other clients are not featured in order to highlight his interactions with the German. It also allows the play a different, more action- driven dynamic. Instead of lingering on anyone’s past (minus Rio’s), the play is allowed to scrutinize the “current” events more closely.
Speaking of Rio’s past, the play completely focuses on it as though it was a game show hosted by Nestor Norales and Barbara Villanueva. They enter with bright colorful lights and disco balls, and introduce the audience to each character of the Philippino melodrama. However, in addition to several chapters, they fail to mention Rio’s mother in nearly the whole play. Perhaps it is because her story would complicate the play too much. With Rio’s mother, there would be an added perspective on the political events of the Philippines in the 1980s. Also, due to the time period in which the play is set, were the mother to appear, Rio’s visit would change entirely. Chiquitin and Pearlita would be forced to face the past in a more extreme and superficial manner than they do with just Rio’s visit. For instance, in the novel, all of the mother’s interactions with people are loud and generally cursory and quick. If Rio’s mother had tagged along with Rio throughout the stage version, then Rio’s story probably would not have had the chance to be heard. But, this is all just speculation. The fact of the matter is simply that in the book, the mother was a far more prominent character than in the play.
Last few things…
I’d just like to throw a few last things out there to think about. I suppose that this part is more for me to think about a couple points that baffled me a bit. For instance, the role of Lolita Luna - I understand that she is meant to be representative of the erotic side of the Philippines, but other than that, she seems like a rather shallow character. In the book she is a bit more deep and troubled; however, her representation in the play fit my impression of her in my head more appropriately. Also, I was rather confused about the role of Boomboom in both book and on stage. He seems like just a helping character, but at the same time I feel like he should be representative of some side of the Philippines similar to the rest of the characters. Not to mention, in the play, is he Pucha’s boyfriend? Or is he single and going after Rio?
Lastly, I’d just like to mention that Ramon de Ocampo (Joey Sands) is one fine hunk of man!