Ricky Lee on the making of Penis Talks

STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco -
After Vagina Monologues now comes Penis Talks. But unlike Vagina Monologues, which originated from abroad, Penis Talks is an original Filipino production.

To be mounted by respected producers and talent managers Manny Valera and Arnold Vegafria, Penis Talks will be staged on Oct. 2, 3, 15 and 16 at the Music Museum in Greenhills. It will be directed by Joel Lamangan and will feature in the cast Christian Vasquez, Luis Alandy, Paolo Paraiso, Carlo Maceda, Jeffrey Hidalgo, Douglas Robinson, Angelu de Leon, Jenine Desiderio, William Thio, Russell Simon, Jason Colis and Ricci Chan.

Providing the script of Penis Talks is Ricky Lee, who – like Lamangan – returns to the theater scene after their many successes in the field of cinema. Multi-awarded and well known for his scripts that champion women’s rights issues on film, Ricky Lee is already a recipient of the Manunuri ng Pilipino’s Natatanging Gawad Urian.

Below he talks about Penis Talks, which is being predicted to be "the stage event of the year."

Who thought of the idea of putting up this production Penis Talks and why?

Joel Lamangan and Manny Valera met with me to discuss the possibility of doing a stage version of Macho Dancer. I jumped upon the chance because doing plays are a breather for me.

But during discussion the idea of doing Macho Dancer didn’t seem exciting anymore. Parang nasabi ko na lahat about that subject matter sa mga pelikula ko. So the idea of doing something like Vagina Monologues came about.

Is this in response to Vagina Monologues?

I saw Vagina Monologues years and years ago in New York off-Broadway. First time it was shown. With Eva Esner. Even then I already thought of doing one in Filipino. At that time about women too. Because I always believed in women’s advocacy.

Pero nagawa na ng
Vagina Monologues ’yun e. Why not one for men too?

What is Penis Talks all about?

Para siyang
a form of – everything you’ve always wanted to say about the penis but weren’t able to. Kumbaga, letting the penis out in the open, for all its imperfect and flawed glory. Para malaman natin pag-uwi natin that there are other penises out there.

Na ang
penis ay di lang ’yung stereotype image na oppressor, o kaya ay gift of God sa mga kababaihan at bakla, kundi isa rin siyang sensitive at compassionate being, capable of being hurt, being confused, needing closure, and in the end ay even being able to talk?

So, ang Penis Talks ay isang tete-a-tete with the penis!

Actually this is just a revue, nothing too ambitious. We just wanted a funny look, silip lang talaga, at male stories. Pero in the process, if we can break some myths, or make people more aware, why not?

There is in the show, for instance, the story of the unwanted penis. Kasi ang me ari sa kanya, transvestite na lagi siyang iniipit para magmukha itong babae. So he decides to rebel. It now becomes a tug of war between the rights of the transvestite, and the rights of the penis that he wants to dispose of. In the end of the two find humanity and compassion in each other.

Or the guy with the small penis, who, because of his shortcomings becomes more sensitive to the needs of his women partners, and in the end turns out more politicized than his better-hung peers.

It is a way of celebrating the penis too, not its oppressive nor its ignorant side, but rather its power to be an instrument too towards a better relationship with women, gays, and other guys. For the penis to be as much a source of fun as of humanity.

Is this your way of making up to the male population considering the fact that you’ve concentrated for so long on female issues in your screenplays?

In a way. I’ve always been fascinated by the male ego but never got the chance because, let’s face it, our movie industry as far as dramas and subject matters are concerned, is female-centered. So this is one hell of a chance.

Besides, I’ve been writing for more than two decades already. I want to explore other areas naman, especially comedy. In these times we need to laugh at others and at ourselves.

What are the male issues – in your view – that have yet to be addressed?

Male molestation. The gay issue, although it’s been getting a lot of exposure, still needs adequate and effective advocacy. Oppression against men by some women. The matter of size.

But in the end there is no such thing as a male or female issue, but rather human issues and problems that keep recurring in a society. We all fight the same socio-economic barriers in trying to be better human beings. Like in times of poverty what happens to the penis? Or how can an oppressed person, penis for that matter, find closure?

How has the role of the male in society changed over the years?

We’re still a heavily patriarchal society, though we have more enlightened men now than ever. But in my view women have always been the more enlightened ones since the birth of humanity. And it’s still that way. Women worry about their place in society, their home and children, their future. Men worry about the size of their penis, their amor propio, their peers. Men are basically more insecure, and women finding themselves in this world have made them more insecure. So Penis Talks should be a way of laughing at ourselves too!

In your observation, what are the false accusations that have been hurled against men in general?

Men are a lovely humanity too. But there is this tendency to see them as merely these prigs or these rapists, not realizing that they too are capable of deep emotions, lasting hurts and wounds that need healing.

Do you think men are having all the fun in this world?

We–men, women, gays, lesbians and transgendered – are having all the fun in this world, right now, year 2004. And why not!

In your studies, is it more difficult to be a man or a woman in this world?

It must be more difficult for women. Imagine may mga lugar pa sa mundo where a woman can’t even show her face! Or she needs to get mutilated! Men have always ruled, unfairly. Maski sa Bible. But what can compare to the bliss of giving birth? Not to see it as a form of compensation, pero di ba, imagine to have the power to carry life! Everything starts there!

Any chance this may be translated on the big screen someday?

In this our prudish hypocritical society? I doubt!

Tickets to Penis Talks are priced at P2,000 (Limited seats only), P1,500 and P1,000. For ticket inquiries, call Music Museum at 721-0635/721-6726 or the DMV Entertainment, Inc. at 415-0373/374-1361.

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