This study seeks to unite Asian literature with Western perspectives and styles. In this essay, I will focus on the theatrical ways that the play will work through performance and staging. However, in order to fully understand the concept behind the play, “Asphalt Man”, we must first look at the playwright’s background and education, period setting of the play, and analyzing the characters. Moreover the details of its themes, design concepts, lighting and sound, costumes, audience positioning that helps to understand how the plays expected to be performed. Although, this analysis is limited to some specific ideas and possible techniques that can be useful for the process of working on the play (“Asphalt Man”).
A. Analyzing the playwright
Dr. Anton Juan Jr. is a Filipino drama professor and director who earned PhD in Semiotics from the University of Athens. According to the Notre Dame News (2006), he has written six plays, all of which received literary and playwright awards. He received honors and grants from organizations in France, Greece, Italy, Spain, the United States and the Philippines. Currently he is a full professor and theatre director at the University of Notre Dame de Luc in USA and in London.
Period Setting of the play
Before the playwright wrote the play, “Taong-Grasa” there was no word in the Philippines that best referred to the “fools” loitering around the city areas. This is because before the raid of economic crisis, there were only decent wanderers that were still part of the society. But when the economy crisis of the Philippines began in early 1980s, the country endured adversities due to unable to pay its billion dollars international debt (Solon & Floro, 1993). The government was unwilling and was incapable to take necessary actions to deal with economic difficulties on its own even after disposing the country’s dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Although after the crisis, i.e. Martial Law, the nation was still ascending into political and social extremities. The economic growth revived by some means, however the nation still continues to experience difficulties as claimed by Solon & Floro (1993). For instance, majority of provinces or the urban poor communities still struggles to get education and employment in the industrial sector. Hence, many provincials have ventured to find their luck in the capital city, Manila, regardless of their educational background. But job opportunities in Manila are hard to find that even university graduates had no luck of getting one. As unemployed people become poor, the more people become increasingly at risk of homelessness. Many became vagrants and psychologically alienated when housing and economic issues collide with other crisis such as domestic violence, physical or mental illness, addiction, and relational strains (World Health Organization, 2007). As a result of this and the migrations of provincial people into the only feasible economic city, Manila, slums started to settle in the city and therefore the industrial economy could not accommodate enough employees. Soot and asphalt people whose skins were black from grease, dirt, smoke, and mud began to appear almost everywhere that made the playwright, Dr. Anton Juan Jr. to write a play about them. He made his protagonist to be defined by its environment.
“Asphalt Man” is (an English word for the Filipino slang “Taong-Grasa”) the main protagonist of the one-act dramatic monologue play originally called, “Taong-Grasa”. Asphalt Man is a lowly tramp who battles with his grumbling guts for which he speaks to, and through, his intestines as if it were a living being. He is the clown that scavenges in the streets of Manila. He has a distorted sense of practical knowing where he is speaking and documenting things as he walks around the city.
Although the play is originally a monologue, I want to make his revelations turned into an actual performance rather than...
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