- Filmmaking Tips
- No comments
After more than 50 theater credits at Repertory Philippines and a comeback role of Dr. Givings in Sarah Ruhl’s The Vibrator Play, which opened March 24, Joshua Spafford is excited to work on his first full-length film — an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Othello set in the Philippines circa 1890s.
Now in his 30s and a father of a 15-month-old baby, Joshua had his theater debut at age 17 (The Sunshine Boys) and has since then worked as actor and director for almost two decades. “My interests and skills had grown vastly ever since I started and they branched out to film and photography. I think that more than an actor, I’m a storyteller so it’s been a natural evolution over time into photography and filmmaking. I took some years off to get lost, slow down on my theater work and focus on photography and filmmaking. I tinkered in almost every genre just to have the ability to get hands-on training.”
The result is that he has spent the past two years writing, adapting and working on a film adaptation of Othello re-set during the Philippine revolutionary war. “I’ve secured a primary financier and assembled a good portion of the artistic team. I’ll be directing this film (very much an independent film) within the next year. I’ve worked closely with regional government and tourism offices in Negros for various sponsorships and permits among others. For now, I am engaged in refining the script and hopefully, I get more financing. At the moment, we are studying the weather very closely since the film is designed to be largely shot as an outdoor story. I am working with my friend and co-actor Jake Macapagal and my partner Ciara who is deeply supportive and a much better life manager than I am. For someone who has always been poor at multi-tasking, this new phase in my life has been a real challenge!”
Before he goes full-time on film production, Joshua plays Dr. Givings in the latest Repertory Philippines production of Ruhl’s The Vibrator Play.
Close Ad X
The actor notes that while the play is a work of fiction, it is actually based on very true events and developments in science and medicine just before the turn of the century. He rues it was an exciting, progressive time just after the Civil War, with the incredible leaps and breakthroughs in electricity. “It was also a time of big, big medical mistakes and folly. For example, it was thought that widespread ‘hysteria’ was an ailment affecting women (and sometimes men) whose symptoms ranged from nervousness, hallucinations to any normal, basic sexual urges. In the play, my character administers vibrator therapy (as did many other medical professionals at the time) using some of the character’s own inventions like ‘The Chattanooga Vibrator’ an actual medical device of the time.”
There are few things he considers while studying the part. First, he is keen on honoring the language, tone and intention of the writer and the way he does that personally is to attack the play from multiple points of view. “I typically read the play cover to cover no less than six to eight times looking for clues and making copious lists which include: What do other people say about my character? What does my character say about other people? What does my character say about the world? What does my character say about himself? What does my character literally do? What happens to the story without my character?
Entertainment ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
“It can be tedious work but it sometimes unlocks secrets and revelations or at least a perspective of the play beyond just my own part. I like the discipline of the work so I can later hopefully perform freely.”
His latest theater commitment comes at a time when the theater company is observing its 50th year.
Joshua’s recollections: “I think my last Rep play was in 1995! I started there as a teenager and grew up on its stage. I considered Bibot (Zeneida Amador), Baby (Barredo), Tita Joy (Virata) and others as my second family. In the same way that you never forget your first love or first kiss, I never forget my first home and the lessons that came with it. It defined my early life and has always been in my heart.”
Source: Philippine Star