Baron Geisler Faces Off With a Playwright in CCP's Rock Sarswela

Aurelio Sedisyoso opens on September 1.


( Baron Geisler is one of the most controversial actors in the Philippine entertainment industry. We all know the stories and incidents that have plagued the actor's career, but on September 1, we will see a different Geisler as he makes his debut in Philippine theater—a Cultural Center of the Philippines stage at that—through Aurelio Sedisyoso: A Rock Sarswela by Nicanor Tiongson.




Aurelio Sedisyoso, directed by Chris Millado, is an original rock sarswela based on the life of Filipino playwright and dramatist Aurelio Tolentino. After the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo in 1901, his sector of theater artists and writers called Teatro Porvenir along with the workers’ sector under Dominador Gomez and the armed forces under General Macario Sakay gathered to ignite a revolution during the time of American colonization. He was most famous for a verse drama titled Kahapon, Ngayon, at Bukas (1903), which has a script that called for tearing up the American flag. After the show, he was arrested for sedition and rebellion, but was eventually pardoned in 1912.

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(L to R) Chris Millado, Joed Balsamo, Nicanor Tiongson


Aurelio Sedisyoso’s cast and creative team is mostly the same group who’s behind Mabining Mandirigma, a steampunk musical that featured a female Mabini. Its music and composition is by Joed Balsamo, choreography by Denisa Reyes, and set design by Toym Imao. Most of the musical arrangements are done by Filipino jazz rock band Radioactive Sago Project to complete the rock sarswela feel.



(L to R) David Ezra, Jonathan Tadioan, and Remus Villanueva


Previously playing the role of Aguinaldo, David Ezra is now Aurelio Tolentino and joining him in the revolution is Remus Villanueva as Macario Sakay/Andres Bonifacio and Jonathan Tadioan as Dominador Gomez. Geisler plays the role of the Tikbalang, the allegorical representation of the U.S. Insular Government in the Philippines.



Baron Geisler as Tikbalang/Amerikano


“It’s my theater debut and you know what’s funny, I thought talk lang. ‘Yon pala musical,” started Geisler during a press conference at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on August 16. “[At] first I was very arrogant and I thought I could do it. But when I worked with all these great and amazing actors, it really humbled me. God put me in my place and said, ‘Baron, you’re not [that] great of an actor after all.’ […] Na-overwhelm po ako e. Pagdating sa film or TV, baluarte ko ‘yon e, hindi ko baluarte ‘to obviously. Mas kinabahan nga ako dito kaysa sa laban namin ni Kiko Matos e,” the actor confessed.





Apart from a talented cast taking on challenging roles, another thing to watch for in this musical is the unconventional set design by Imao who was instructed by Millado to mix up the theater. This means putting the audience on the stage and the actors on the bleachers, much like how they did Mabining Mandirigma. “It’s basically pages unfolding into the audience’s area, where the seats are,” narrated the artist about the stage concept.



This big collaboration of visuals, music, and talent boils down the burning question that pushes Aurelio Sedisyoso’s story from the 1900s to 2017: “How many times can you lose your country?” Millado enumerated the number of times Tolentino fought for country’s independence and the same number of times he failed. In this time of summary killings, territorial disputes, and brewing wars, it is relevant to ponder on this question.



Aurelio Sedisyoso: A Rock Sarswela runs from September 1 to 17 at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater), Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. Tickets, priced from P1,000 to P1,500, are available through Ticketworld.


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