IT WAS an interview originally intended to be about Crystal Cavalier, but somehow we ended up having a vibrant conversation about his relationship with the stage. Just as well, because the tale of Crystal Cavalier closely revolves on founder Raymond Ordoño’s love for theater. It was his passion for the art that ignited him to establish the group, which is known for their modern style in stage performance.
Born in Manila, raised in Cebu, and studied in the United States, Ray indeed had been a witness to the different kinds of artistry the world has to offer. As a student, Ray was part of a show choir that traveled around the country to perform. They have performed in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and have done workshops in New York.
Ray said that he is more oriented in musical theatre, but of course, brimming with versatility, he is also proficient in acting in other genres as well as directing- which is generally what he does now with Crystal Cavalier.
“When I came back here, I thought I would never do theater again,” Ray shared, “but
then it just came to place. I realized that this is what I should do.”
“I came back to the Philippines to study journalism,” he said, “Back then I was involved with Marketing for the Arts Council of Cebu and I decided, why not put up a show inside the university?”
“At that time my school did not have a theater group so it was more of an unofficial thing. We did Sunset Boulevard in 2002.” It was in 2003 that Crystal Cavalier was officially established. Their maiden show Kiss of the Spiderwoman was done at the CAP Art Center.
“The first set of members came from production group that I was part of, and they decided to join me. Some people come and some people go. Some people stay and it’s mainly because of their attitude. It’s all about passion for the craft.”
As director, Ray describes himself as democratic. “I get input from everybody, the actors, the production staff, the make-up artists, and then I join them together with my ideas. We see what goes well, we see what doesn’t. I do have my vision, but it’s good to have input because I’m surrounded by a lot of artists, so why not let them express too?”
Crystal Cavalier has gained prominence through their yearly production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and the Cebu Contemporary Theatre Festival. The latter, which will culminate on October 8, is now on its third run.
“We started the festival with a specific format. There are several titles: usually two ‘featurettes’ and one main feature,” Ray explained. In last year’s festival, they did an adaptation of 12 Angry Jurors and instead of human characters, they went with animal personas. “We give our own twists,” Ray proudly beamed.
This year, their festival will showcase Romeo & Juliet, Ladlad, and Agnes of God.
Ladlad is a series of monologues loosely based on The Vagina Monologues.
“Somebody gave me feedback on Munting Kalachuchi,” the director disclosed, referring to one of the monologues included in Ladlad. “The person said ‘You should not put that on stage. It is lewd.’”
“I said it happens, women get abused everyday. Give me a one mile radius anywhere, anywhere that’s populated, that doesn’t have a woman who’s been abused and I will take that off the stage.”
“I put on stage what’s happening,” Ray firmly said, “People need to know what’s happening and they can probably do something about it.” Not only is Raymond Ordoño passionate about his talent for theater, he is also passionate in using such talent for something worthwhile.
In fact, for their theatre festival next year, they plan to include an interschool play competition, an activity that has been gaining popularity at the West End.
“We’re thinking of doing a 10-minute play competition, written, acted, and directed by the students,” Ray shared excitedly.