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DEGREE OF REALISM IN ALBERTO S. FLORENTINOS THE WORLD IS AN APPLE Rosalina Rara-Sarabosing, M.

A Holy Name University Tagbilaran City Introduction While Philippine poetry and fiction in English, were possible at that time, drama in English in Philippine literature in the early 1900s, was crippling (if one has to borrow a clich to describe appropriately its effect)- since it was almost not yet feasible (http:Philippine_literary_art/html., 2001). But Tagalog drama and the rest of the vernacular theater continue to exist, though it was something that the American colonizers who, came upon a theater scene they could not understand. (Fernandez, 1994). In the words of Arthur Riggs, a military journalist and eyewitness to the plays and to the trials of the arrested playwrights, cast, and crew: They found religious dramas and dramatizations long hyperbolic verse plays (komedya), the light musical comedy of manners (sarswela), and the plays they came to call seditious because these had the temerity to espouse Philippine Independence from the United States (www.ncca.gov.ph) Thus, Riggs wondered in 1905 what would happen next, since this inspiring drama, exactly suited to ... to [their] tastes and wishes had been squashed by the American laws, arrests, and trials. He called the Filipino stage as a wholly quiescent and hibernating creature, awaiting the sun-warmth before its emergence from seclusion and futility. Riggs could not have known, of course, that the rites and rituals, the verse debates, songs and dances of the indigenous theater did and would continue, as would the folk theater represented by the religious dramas and dramatizations, the komedya- the budding drama, and the sarswela. Each simply found its place on the different stages, both outdoors and indoors, in barrio, town, or city; even as such outlandish places like the cockpit and the church- with its own audience, whether paying or nonpaying, on religious feast days, at town fiestas, on civic occasions, and eventually in evenings at the theater. As it is, already the early Filipino rituals or indigenous folk theater qualified to be a form of drama as defined etymologically from the Greek term, dran, or to do, or to perform since like the classical Greek drama- the religious dramatizations, the verse debates, including the community rites in the Filipino barangay all connote movement. And the rest of the plays classified to be Philippine drama, whether in English

or in the vernacular/regional languages-qualified to belong to the genre= now on its way for centennial celebration (1915 2015). It may be wise to examine the genre following the different historical literary periods. The first period between 1910 1925 marked the beginning of legitimate Philippine drama where a modest number of playwrights were, according to literary critic I.V. Mallari , were amateurs who dabbled in the art purely for the fun. (Bonifacio, 1998). The early part of the 1900s was essential with the establishment of the State University in 1908, and the founding of a significant literary magazine, the U. P. Folio in 1910. Notable of these teachers were Dean S. Fansler and Harriet Ely Fansler-who laid the ground for the rich Philippine literature in English. Later came two more excellent teachers of creative writing, George St. Clair who taught playwriting and Paz Marquez Benitez who taught the writing of fiction. In 1920, three more prominent teachers in English arrived in the University of the Philippines, namely: George P. Shannon, I. Ingles Moore and Harold P. Scott. These years were the time when the State University was the center of literary efforts and from its classrooms were to emerge the most promising young Filipino writers in English. Thus how the development of a new culture, came to be- which is of course, the American way of life- propagated by the training of the English language perpetuated in the educational system so well established systematically in 1901- when U. S. President McKinley directed the use of English as the medium of instruction in all levels of education. Theater in English was the immediate result of both the language training and the educational system. There was the change of language, which inferentially made the vernacular theaters seem fit only for the provinces; for fiestas, for the unschooled and promoted English as the language of the schooled and eventually the learned. Certainly the sinakulo and komedya would not be performed or mentioned, much less studied in schools. No wonder, the Filipino schooled and some more unschooled, would rather watch Da Vinci Code rather than Panaghoy sa Suba, Mission Impossible 3, than Dekada 70, or Poseidon (the remake), than Bata, Bata- Paano Ka Ginawa. The awit and the corridor were for classroom discussion only and the balagtasan as requirement only in Filipino and Philippine literature courses. Close to 40 dramas were published or produced in 1922 1931, mostly of nationalistic themes- which was devoted to a plea for independence. The dramas also showed the concern of the young playwrights over the introduction of what appeared to be new-found freedoms for: public education, political leadership, equality of the sexes and other ideas. And then there were the examples of drama discussed in the textbook plays aimed at teaching the language, at rehearsing the students in the speaking of English. These were not linked, in any way, to the life outside the classroom-in vivid contrast to the folk plays entrenched so deeply in community and popular life. Hence, plays staged

in the classrooms as language exercises, came to the Filipino students as their first (and lasting) impression of the theater. By the 1940s and the 1950s, the fourth decade of Philippine drama in English, the genre moved out of the classroom and onto cultural centers and other legitimate stages. Greek and Shakespeare tragedies had been performed in public by the Ateneo de Manila and the UP Theater groups. Then in 1950- 1962, the Palanca literary competition, opened the gates to young playwrights like Alberto Florentino, Isabel Taylor, and Wilfrido Nolledo. It was also the decade where two giants in Philippine Theater were at their busiest in writing and direction for theater: Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero for touring the countryside with his Mobile Theater and Severino Montano was getting a great deal of publicity for his Arena Theater productions. While Guerrero continued to write and produce his plays- the new talent in English language drama was Alberto Florentino, who turned out one-act plays, which at that time, were considered anachronistic by many because of its theme. As a literary work in English, the main concern of drama, was not alienation or other literary themes dominant in the West, but with social problems, like poverty in the slums. For the major Filipino playwrights like Montano, Guerrero and Florentino: the theater was no classroom exercise, but a real and earnest art. Statement of the Problem The main objective of this critical essay is to determine the extent of realism in Alberto S. Florentinos socio- play, The World is an Apple. Specifically, the investigation intends to answer this question: 1. What is the degree of realism in ASFs socio-play, The World is an Apple in terms of: a). social realities prevailing during that time in post war Manila? b). extent of influence that Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekhov had to Alberto S. Florentino and on his plays? DISCUSSION ON ASFS ONE-ACT PLAYS To say that Alberto S. Florentino is a realist- is a correct political classification of his literary genius. Two of his favorite elements in the genre were setting and themeoftentimes overlapping into each other as characters- come from the slums and denizens of Tondo. While the themes and plots of his plays were very Filipino, yet he clothed

them in an alien and borrowed language called English. Thus, his talent is admired and recognized even as he dared to be socially conscious. Florentino took materials of his plays from the urban poor and their desperate lives in society where mobility is possible only if one has wealth and education. His socio-plays, like The World is an Apple (1954), Cadaver (1954), Cavort with Angels (1959) and Oli Impan (1959) brought to the attention of Philippine theater directors and audiences the world outside the English-speaking universe, such fact that his Tondo stevedores, prostitutes and street urchins were speaking correct and idiomatic English. And the Filipino audiences showed no qualms of this blatant incongruity. This is a clear proof, somehow of the dominance English has gained in the theater. So when the aforementioned plays, came out in a slim collection in 1959 as The World is an Apple and Other Prize Plays, it was first considered unfashionable- because of its continuing pertinence to Philippine conditions- but the plays proved their durability as images of the urban lower depths- demonstrated by the many productions that have been given to these dramatic works. Until the present times, in several campuses all over the country- Oli Impan, The World is an Apple and other socio-plays of Florentino are being studied and produced. Incidentally, Oli Impan is a slum childs attempt to pronounce Holy Infant in the Christmas song, Silent Night Realism in Modern Drama Realism is a literary technique that attempts to create the appearance of life as it is actually experienced. Characters in modern realistic plays (written during and after the last quarter of the 19th century) speak dialogue that one might hear in his daily lives. These characters are no larger than life, but representative of it; they seem to speak the way people do, rather than in highly poetic language, formal declarations, asides, or soliloquies-which were popular in medieval romances. Realism brings into focus commonplace, everyday life rather than the extraordinary kinds of events that make up Shakespeares Hamlet or Sophocles Oedipus Rex, Playwrights such as Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekov, are the more popular realistic writers who focused on such subjects of realistic dramas, like work, love, marriage, children and even, death. These topics can also constitute much of the material in nonrealistic plays, but modern realistic dramas present such material in the realm of the probable. Conflicts in realistic plays are likely to reflect problems in day-to-day lives. Realists attempted to open their audiences eyes; to their minds, the only genuine comfort was in knowing the truth. Many of their plays concern controversial issues of the day and focus on people who fall prey to indifferent societal institutions. In Henrik Ibsens A Doll House, Torvald Helmer discussed to his wife- Nora their households budget, Anton Chekovs plays are populated by characters frustrated by their social situations and their own sensibilities; they are ordinary people who long for happiness but become entangled in every day circumstances that limit their lives. Ibsen also took a closer look at his characters daily lives. His plays attack social

conventions and challenge popular attitudes toward marriage; he stunned audiences by dramatizing the suffering of a man dying of syphilis, while British playwright Bernard Shaw (1856- 1950) often used comedy and irony as means of awakening his audiences to contemporary problems; like in Mrs. Warrens Profession (1898) that indicted a social and economic system that drives a woman to prostitution. The Modern Filipino Drama in English With the advent of the forties, Romanticism in the Philippine Theater in English gave way to Realism- the kind of psychological, then social realism, gained ascendancy and held sway until the mid-sixties. Realism brought to the Philippines from Europe stipulated that the purpose of art was to depict life with complete honesty, to show things as they are. Aside from the plays in English about the Philippine present, Montano, Guerrero and Florentino, introduced realism in Philippine theater, an element not found in the sinakulo (Passion plays) and the komedya (metrical romance) and only nascent in the sarswela (musical comedy). The biblical stories (and apocryphal stories like the tales of Samuel Belibet and Boarnerhes), the romances of the royalty of Albania and Persia, as well as those of the Estrellas and Anitas of sarswela land and the poets and hometown boys who loved now were replaced by stories about a country lass falling in love with a (married) American (in Montanos Sabina, about politicians and their empty promises (still in Montanos The Ladies and the Senator), about basketball players and movie stars, love triangles, and the plight of dock workers (in Florentinos The World is an Apple), squatters (still Florentinos Cadaver) and prostitutes (Florentinos Cavort with Angels). The real Philippine world was creeping up on the stage and creating a new theater. Just exactly what is realism, as a literary school of thought and/or literary movement in Philippine literature? Further, what influences caused these major playwrights to focus on Philippine social conditions? Realism, as a school of thought in literature, pictures life as a detailed presentation of appearances of the everyday world: concentrating on such details as the scenery, customs, languages and other characteristics, peculiar of a certain regionexpousing what is local color in Filipino works in fiction. The problem play of Ibsen and Chekov are equivalent to the socio-play of Montano, Guerrero and Florentino. All these foreign and local playwrights did their drama that represents a social issue in order to awaken the audience to it. These plays reject the romantic plots in favor of holding up a mirror that reflect not simply what the audiences want to see but what the playwright sees in them, in the most realistic way possible. Further, realism triumphed with the appearance of Henrik Ibsen who brought the following techniques to the theater- skillful handling of the complexities of the individual psyche, natural but dramatically appropriate dialogue, carefully-worded stage

directions and explicit instructions concerning sets in order to create the illusion of reality more convincingly. The World is an Apple & other Prize Plays According to the thesis of Jess Espinosa (2001) on Alberto Florentino, Florentino lived his characters lives. He proceeded to explain that Florentino owes his playwriting career to a clanky Royal typewriter. This began when Florentinos father, then a teacher, assigned him to type the scripts he (older Florentino) needed for the school plays that he was writing and directing. With a pack of carbon paper and reams of newsprint, the young Florentino pounded on his Royal manual typewriteir to produce multiple copies of the multi-page plays of his father. His quick fingers were given a workout, but more importantly, his mind, did too. From his fathers writing technique, he learned what a combination of carefully selected words, delineated in creative and fanciful ways, could do to produce an image, an emotion or a reaction. In 1947, when Florentino was 16 years old, the family (consisting of his parents who were both teachers, along with his seven siblings where he was second from the eldest- moved from the peaceful town of Nueva Ecija to the slums section of Manila. It was then the height of the liberation from Japanese-therefore the city was one of ruins, and the peoples bodies and spirits were in ruins, as well. There were no jobs available, there was so much hunger and homelessness and very little hope. Florentino was 23 years old back in 1954 when published his early works, such as the World is an Apple, his first play. Written in English, it was about the struggling but surviving residents of the Manila slums. According to the genius, Florentino was attracted to the theme, because I lived the life that my characters live. His fondness for the works of Theodore Dresler, Erskine Caldwell, John Steinbeck and William Soroyan, among others influenced his as well and made him a socially conscious writer. He was also exposed to the plays written by Filipino playwrights Wilfrido Maria Guerrero, Nick Joaquin, and Severino Montano- considered as the powerhouses of Philippine drama of the time. Their works encouraged him to try to write. Conclusion The publication of a short story, novel, or a poem represents for most writers the final step in the long creative process that might have begun with an idea, emotion, or question that demanded expression. Playwrights- writers who make plays- may begin a work in the same way as other writers, but rarely are they satisfied with only its publication, because most dramatic literature- what is known as plays- is written to be performed by actors on a stage before an audience. This means that playwrights have one more step to consider when they typically create a play keeping in mind not only readers but also actors, producers, directors, costumers, designers, technicians and a theater full of other support staff who have a hand in presenting a play to a life audience.

The text of many plays- the script- may only come alive fully when the written words are transformed into a performance. There are also, however, certain plays that do not invite production, but these closet dramas, as they are called are relatively few. Such plays, written to be read rather than performed, require more creative imagining than sitting in an audience. The imaginative collaboration with the playwright creates a mental world that can be nearly as real and vivid as a live performance. A one-act play, like most of Florentinos works, means that the entire play takes place in one single location and unfolds as one continuous action. As in a short story, the characters in a one-act play are presented economically, and the action is sharply focused. The major convention of a one-act play is that it typically consists of only a single scene, nevertheless, one-act plays contain many of the elements of drama that characterize their full-length counterparts.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Abad, Gemino H. (general ed.) 1998. The Likhaan Anthology of Philippine Literature in English from 1900 to the Present. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. Kahayon, Alicia H., et al. 1989. Philippine Literature: Choice Selections from a Historical Perspective. Metro Manila: National Book Store, Inc., Meyer, Michael (University of Connecticut), 1993. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin Press Tomeldan, Yolanda, et al. 1986. PRISM: An Introduction to Literature. Metro Manila: National Booktore, Inc.