Pursuits

RS Francisco Reprises His Role in M. Butterfly After 28 Years

Net proceeds from the play will benefit 14 different charities.
IMAGE COURTESY OF FRONTROW ENTERTAINMENT
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It’s rare to see an actor play the same role twice, decades apart.

For Raymond (or “RS”) Francisco, it’s been 28 years since he last put on Song Liling’s silk kimono for the play M. Butterfly.

The first time was in 1990, two years after the play by David Henry Hwang premiered on Broadway and won a Tony Award for Best Play. Back then, Francisco was a newly minted actor at the age of 18, and he had come onboard to take the lead role in a production at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Presently, another local production company has revived the play, currently showing at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater in Bonifacio Global City.


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Francisco is again playing the lead as a Chinese opera singer-slash-spy in this now classic masterpiece. This time, his return as a seasoned actor undoubtedly adds more layers to his reprisal of the role.

The play centers around French civil servant René Gallimard who falls for Chinese opera star Song Liling, whom he considers the embodiment of a perfect woman. Gallimard does not know that women have been banned from the Beijing opera stage and roles of females are occupied by men. A complicated affair between the two leads gets even more dramatic after revelations are made. 

After the staged drama's initial success in the '90s, it went on extended runs at full house theaters and eventually went on tour around key cities in the Philippines.

This time, however, the production has limited the performances to 15 shows across 10 days, from September 13 to September 30.

Joining Francisco on stage are French actor Olivier Borten as Rene Gallimard, Pinky Amador as Helga, Norm McLeod as Manuel Toulon, Lee O’Brian as Marc, Rebecca Chuaunsu as Comrade Chin and Suzuki, and Maya Encila as Renee. Behind the curtains, director Kanakan-Balintagos leads the cast, while Francisco and Tony and Grammy Award winner Jhett Tolentino serve as producers.

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But what perhaps makes the production even more of a must-watch show is that it is completely nonprofit. All net proceeds of each show will go to a respective charitable institution that is geared towards either education or the arts.

With reasonable ticket prices that range from P1,000 to P2,000, tickets are still available for performance nights that will benefit Trip to Quiapo Free Scriptwriting Classes by Ricky Lee, the Calumpang Elementary School, Philippine Science High School, Arko Ni Apo Gallery, 1Meal Program, Habitat for Humanity Philippines, and the SM Foundation.

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M. Butterfly has already sold out on show dates that benefit the Love Yourself Foundation, Philippine Stagers Foundation, Teach For the Philippines, Environment Legal Assistance, Love Lipa Foundation, U.P. Samaskom, PAWS Animal Rehabilitation center of Quezon City, Dulaang U.P., Pakisama, Hope For Change Foundation, and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish.

For tickets and more information, visit ticketworld.com.ph.

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Hannah Lazatin
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