Misunderstanding the actor by Bruno Gabriel Santos

The Storyteller and the Audience

Acting is a storytelling craft, and there are two parts of it: the storyteller and the audience. The storyteller, or the actor himself, is one that the must master in order to cover the first part of his craft. The audience, the ones who the story is to be told to, is the other part of the equation which that the actor must regard and understand so he would be able to create the full experience of his work. If an actor disregards himself as the instrument, he would fail at his craft. If the actor would disregard his audience, he would fail at his craft on a different way.

Television actress Joyce Ching walks through the security barrier formed by a decorated steel fence and a line of GMA's security staff during a live event at Starmall, San Jose Del Monte.

Show business is a more public platform where actors have to act. Its fan base is larger, however, its audience's demands call for a more popular set of elements in the storytelling craft. Otherwise, it is a platform for the masses. Because of this nature of the platform, the actors have less of an opportunity to create a nuanced perspective in their work. It is, however, one of the most influential forms of art in the Philippine society. It is so influential; that it has the power to influence business, politics, and ideology. The industry is so loved by the public, that it has become a part of culture.

Theater actor Norbs Portales poses for a photograph with his fans after a mid-day Sunday show of Shakespeare's The Tempest Reimagined at PETA Phinma Theater, New Manila.

Theater, on the other hand, has an audience that seeks nuanced points in the narrative (so does independent film). This gives their actors the opportunity to create art with a more personal perspective and offer unique types of expression through their story telling. Much of what they have to offer, however, may not reach out to the public since its type of audience is limited.

When the Audience Talks

There is so much that people may have to say regarding the work of actors. However, it is known among actors themselves that, the work of an actor is a product exposed to everyone; however, not everyone is exposed to how the work is made. This kind of relationship between the art and the public is the reason why an actor is oftentimes misunderstood.

The audience is commonly fond of comparing actors by the different platforms they perform on. Sometimes, the audience would conclude that one entire platform would be better than the other. These judgements, however, are not necessarily true; and in fact, to artists, the comparison does not even matter.

Television actress Kate Valdez poses for a shot by photographer Doc Marlon Pecjo during a photo shoot at the GMA Annex tower.

The people who perform for television have fame as a reward; and it comes with non-acting-type responsibilities. The actor must have to commit to these responsibilities as much as he would commit to the craft. In order for the artist to stay in the mainstream industry, he must beat the competition and meet the demands.

As a result, if the artist fails to manage his commitment to his show and to his personality, this involves his public image, his character, and his marketability, he would fail in the industry and would eventually become replaced.

Topper Fabregas and Jack Yabut performing live on stage using large movements and loud voice projection for the better understanding of the audience.

The type of challenges that theater performers in the Philippines have to face are different from the ones that exist among television actors. Namely, these challenges would concern things that that have to do with a live performance such as clarity, projection, and memory; which are commonly more difficult than what television actors do in front of camera. Since there is less of a public image to maintain, theater actors have the advantage of working in an environment that provides more personal space.


Despite the objectifications that the actors experience from whatever it is audience members have to say, actors are artists responsible for their craft.

Good acting is truth. Actors, as tools of storytelling, live in the reality of their narrative. With their being as the instrument, they have to commit to the character and to the reality of their story as if it were actually the reality they live in. When it comes to technical commitment, the delivery of acting is also done according to the nature of its platform on how it would be communicated to its catered audience. The nature of the platform, is then, a part of the reality for the performance as well.

Actors Thea Tolentino and Kristoffer Martin in a tent on set rehearsing for their scene to be done in front of the camera a few minutes later.

In a performance for the camera, actors are challenged to be candid. Camera acting is a more natural interpretation of storytelling and not look like they are "acting" when they act. For instance, during a rehearsal between two camera actors, if a spectator would to see them, he must think that the conversation is real and feel free to interrupt because of the rehearsal's candid nature.

The cast of Shakespeare's The Tempest Reimagined rehearsing for their scenes to be performed in front of a live audience a few minutes later.

During a theater performance, actors express more largely and clearly for the audience. Although this may not appear realistic, this manner of speaking must be true in the actor's reality as if the loud projection is a means of communication in the world his character lives in.

Show Business

Majority of the members public are somewhat exposed to something made by the industry of show business. Show business is an industry which involves actors as their assets of operations, and instruments of work.

Although actors are fundamentally, artists, his work is still his own business. Apart from the actor's own business as a performing artist, they are instruments and assets to the industry's business entities.

GMA Artist Center actors being inspected for their appearance. This was during a fashion and styling session of an image building and personality development workshop course provided by the network.

The mainstream actor must be marketable. He must represent a model of "perfection" as a representative of an "ideal" in Filipino's standards in personality and aesthetics. The mainstream actor must also play his personality as a character apart from the character of his role. Oftentimes, it is this character that the mainstream audience comes to watch than the role the actor portrays. As a result, the actor is responsible for his image and his story: the artist is an actor and a personality.

Theater actor Jack Yabut, who just entered backstage, takes moments for himself prior to changing his appearance for the upcoming performance.

In particular, because of the less of a demand of image building in Philippine Theater, theater actors can focus more on their live performance.

The industry of acting in the Philippines is actually a small pool of performers who do acting as their service. In fact, actors in all platforms oftentimes know each other, and sometimes work together. Actors sometimes switch between theater acting and camera acting in since acting is still one craft.


Since the human person is the instrument of the actor, actors invest on themselves in order to create stellar performances that would not only win them awards, but create an impact in society.

Despite what it is actors do outside of their acting for whatever business purposes, the craft of acting itself is what is most important for actors. All actors, given that they are attached to a high level of responsibility become hyperaware of the world and commit themselves in experiencing reality and expressing effectively.

Acting is more of a recorded or witnessed experience than a performance. When an actor acts, he is a character before an actor as he prioritizes being before he follows the events of the script.

Television actress Kate Valdez invests on a personal experience during her acting workshops in preparation for a similar experience that her character would soon have during her show.

Since acting is truth, all actors use their imaginations to put themselves into virtual worlds and recall or create experiences that would be similar to those their characters would perform. With the Philippine television's high demand for drama, actors invest in emotions through their memory, available stimuli, or imaginary experiences that would affect them deeply.

Theater actors vocalising during voice workshops. They do so as an investment for performance skills for musical theater.

Apart from experiential investments, the actor invests in manner of delivery. If the actor is to star in a musical, he invests in his voice. If the actor is to portray a character as a native of a certain province, country, or a different world, such as roles taken in Jerrold Tarog's General Luna, GMA's Encantadia or Netflix's Narcos, he must learn the language and nuances of it.

Conflict and Real Drama

Acting is a relationship between the actor and the audience. Given that acting is a highly influential business in the Philippines, all those involved seek the least drama possible outside of the narrative. this is mostly caused by misunderstandings and false interpretations of the craft by both the actor and the audience.

Acting is never an individual's work but a work which involves at least two people. Since acting is a relationship between the audience and the actor, the actor must captivate, and the audience must listen. Regardless of what it is one expresses, what the other perceives is none of his business: this is art and interpretation.

The Encantadia cast having a discussion during their scene work session in a studio at the GMA Annex tower.

Particulartly, in the mainstream setting, an artist is susceptible to the objectification of himself and of his work. In reality, it is not only a platform of performance, but an industry and a competition as well. An artist must understand this and face the harshness if he is committed to his work.

The Shakespeare's The Tempest Reimagined cast discussing while doing scene work on stage at PETA Phinma Theater, New Manila.

An actor, as a committed artist, must invest and understand himself and all others that involves him. Although he is a part of a relationship, he still leads the storytelling process.

Despite All Misunderstandings

Regardless of what the misunderstanding is, mainstream actors in the Philippines are the icons of the Filipino ideal. Whatever it is that is demanded from them is a reflection of who the people are. Whatever it is they can do as artists, is a service they have for the community.

Sources: Eric Morris, Ivana Chubbuck, Yan Yuzon, Leo Martines, Artist Center, GMA Network, Philippine Educational Theater Association

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