During our 2nd year in High School, there’s always this end of the year production called the Gallery Walk (originally called Afro-Asian). In this production, every class of the 2nd year students would present a dance (based on the country assigned to us) and 2-3 monologues that are based from a text that’s from the assigned country. For my section, 2-Compassion, the country assigned to us was China.
And our text was The Injustice Done to Tou Ngo by Guan Hanqing
Now, before I’ll start talking about the preparation, production and results, I’ll introduce to you our staff:
2-Compassion’s Gallery Walk staff:
Director: Dominique Salcedo
Assistant Director: Nina Santos
Script Writers: Diana Bautista and Margaret Madrigal (yes, that’s me)
Props & Set Committee Head: Samantha Eala
Costume and Make-Up Committee Head: Louisse Omaña
Lights Head: Rosine Baluga
Sounds Head: Alexandria Arcega
Samantha Eala as Tou Ngo
Catherine (Hidey) Arguelles as Donkey Chang
Kaela Alcoreza as Tou-Tien Chang
*this is a brief background on the characters in the text*
Tou Ngo – the main character, daughter of Tou-Tien Chang, daughter-in-law of Mother Tsai, the girl who Donkey Chang wants.
Donkey Chang – the antagonsist, wants Tou Ngo but kills her, unjust
Mother Tsai – Tou Ngo’s mother-in-law
Old Chang – Donkey Chang’s father
Dr. Lu – best physician of Chu-Ch’ou (setting of the text)
Tou-Tien Chang – Tou Ngo’s father who becomes an Inspector General of the Huai River Valley
*a summary of the story*
Tou-Tien Chang borrowed 20 taels of silver from Mother Tsai. After a few months, Mother Tsai contacted him and asked for the money, but unfortunately he still didn’t have the amount being asked for so he gives Tou Ngo to Mother Tsai. His debt is now cleared.
Tou Ngo marries Mother Tsai’s son who dies in the future. Dr. Lu borrows a few taels of silver from Mother Tsai, doesn’t pay, ends up strangling Mother Tsai. Donkey Chang and Old Chang comes in, saves her life. Donkey forces Tsai to marry Old Chang and Tou Ngo to marry him. Tou Ngo refuses.
Donkey attempts to kill Tsai by putting poison (bought from Dr. Lu) into the soup that Tou Ngo prepared, accidentally kills Old Chang. Donkey blames Tou Ngo. He tells her that the only way to solve their problem out of court is to marry him, but she doesn’t so she goes to court. Her word is disregarded, she is beheaded.
She shows herself to her father, Tou-Tien Chang. He investigates on the case, finds out that she’s innocent so he decides that Donkey should be beheaded and Dr. Lu should be in exile for selling poison.
So a few weeks before the gallery walk, we were assigned to our country and our text. I started making the monologue with Dey (Diana). We did it for about 3 days and submitted it to our teacher and fortunately, there were just minor changes.
We had lots of meetings for our props and set because we had to accomplish the following: 2 canvas backdrops, a market stand, 2 lantern posts, 4 plants, 2 chinese tablets, a huge buddha statue and a floor. Yes, these were made from scratch. (Most of it were made of cardboard, okay.)
The dance that was picked out was a mixture of a double ribbon and a fan dance so it was very pretty, colorful and joyful, which was opposite of the mood of the story. Yes, that was what our director wanted.
We kind of panicked in the end because we were running out of cash — Actually, we DID run out of cash which was awful because we still lacked paint and materials. Unfortunate for us, right?
There was also a problem with the lights because the spotlight was shit and the footlights were unavailable because a different section reserved almost everything.
Everyone was ready for our presentation on March 1st until they rescheduled the production to March 4. Yes, that was supposed to be good because of the additional time, but we were all annoyed by it.
We had another meeting, our last, on the weekend before the 4th. It turned out that we did need the extra time because the 2nd canvas wasn’t even finished yet. After that meeting, all the props and set were done. Everything was finished, finally.
I, unfortunately, was assigned to hold the other side of the canvas meaning I wouldn’t get to watch the whole production. Sucks for me, right? So I guess this is our production in the point of view of the girl behind the canvas. That’s nice, not.
So I was standing there, stretching my arms so that the canvas would stand then the first scene comes. The dancers enter and the music starts. I could see the shadow of the ribbons and then — click. The music stops.
shitshitshitshitshit, I said behind the canvas. Everyone was looking at each other. Nina was walking around the place, panicking. Then the music starts again. Peaceful, happy music and the dancers repeat their routine, all in time. Click, the music stops again. Fuck, right? Wow. We knew that we were fucked. Even Nikki (director) said so herself.
Plan B. Nina, Nikki and Chesca started to sing the song (Honor to Us All from the Mulan OST). Thank God. We were saved until things were messed up. Allyssa (dancer) dropped her ribbon and Kirsten (dancer) tripped on one of the footlights.
The dance is over, Donkey enters, the music changes. He pushes the dancers to the floor and looks for his love, Tou Ngo. He finds her and cups her cheeks roughly and pulls her to her feet and everyone but him freezes. He starts his monologue. He states that he is not a cruel person, all he wants is Tou Ngo. He says that Tou Ngo is not a woman if not his.
Tragic, isn’t it?
Everything around him resumes. Tou Ngo is forced to put her head on top of the beheading cube, her life about to be taken away from her.
“You crazy little wretch!” I heard the guard shout from behind the thick and smelly canvas cloth. The sword lifts one time, gathering all the force in the guard’s arms. It lands on the nape of her neck – blackout.
Once again, everyone freezes, but this time Tou Ngo stands up from her original position and said what she had to say. She is innocent, but she has accepted her fate. She is Tou Ngo, a murderer. Her future has been planned out for her. Her future does not exist. She goes back to her cube and she laughs maniacally, the lights going out once the sword cuts through her skin and her bones, a bloodcurdling scream escaping her mouth.
And she’s dead.
To cut the long story short, we lost. We didn’t place or anything, but that was kind of expected. We made lots of mistakes and I guess that’s sad, but on a lighter note, the class spent lots of time together, making us more bonded with each other so that’s the positive thing about the negative result.
Thank you so much, 2-C.