Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio is a play written by Paul Dumol, currently an Economics professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific, during his high school years at Ateneo de Manila University. This play has been staged by countless theatre organizations already, producing myriad of interpretations and dramatizations. However, probably one thing has been constant in each of them since it was instilled in the text itself – that Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio is a tragedy.
So with that, we can assume that Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio is not comedy. Before proving the claim that it is a tragedy, first, I would like to emphasize why it is not comedy. As a director in theatre and of this play, specifically, I received a lot of negative feedbacks from professors and worse, my own mentors in DLSU about Harlequin Theatre Guild’s (or my) staging of the said play. Putting the bitterness I felt aside, I came into a realization that I really have to look at the text closer and consider the comments. I found out that, it, being too comedic, is like going away with its actual essence, which is to promote “pity & fear” towards Serapio, the protagonist. Aristotle described comedy as something that “consists in some defect or ugliness which is not painful or destructive” – a description that totally counters what the play really wants to depict. My team and I focused more on letting the audience be entertained by the lightness that this play may offer; however, this was not the point of this, in the first place. Nevertheless, when you look at it in a different perspective, Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio can still be a comedy but it does not guarantee actual laughs, but the irony of it all (all the significant happenings in the play) can make you think really hard and make you say, “isn’t it funny that…[realizations and ideas here]?” On the other hand, the main point that I would like to prove is that Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio is a tragedy. Perhaps no one could ever define and...
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