Auction of 7 top lensmenâs photos part of M. Butterfly promo
In the restaging of M. Butterfly, R.S. Francisco (right) reprises his role as Song Liling, with French actor Olivier Borten as Rene Gallimard, the former French diplomat who relates his passionate, disastrous affair with Song Liling from his cell in a Paris prison where he’s serving a long sentence for treason

Auction of 7 top lensmen’s photos part of M. Butterfly promo

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2018 - 12:00am

The guys behind the restaging of M. Butterfly are going all-out (as in no stone is left unturned) in promoting the play in which R.S. Francisco played the titular role as Song Liling 28 years ago when it was first staged locally.

The 1990 presentation for Dulaang UP was directed by Behn Cervantes and the 2018 staging (at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater in Bonifacio Global City) by Kanakan-Balintagos (erstwhile Aureus Solito).

Rhapsody in Blue by Jun de Leon ‘Happiness is so rare that our mind can turn somersaults to protect it.’ — Rene Gallimard, Act 2 Scene 6

“Song Liling is 20 years old in the story and I was 18, short of two years when I first played the role,” said R.S., now 48 and therefore has a better grasp of the character. He reiterated, “Song Liling is not gay. He’s a spy who just pretended to be a woman. He didn’t want to be a woman and he just had to do it for Chairman Mao.”

Ingenue by Raymund Isaac ‘I’m happy which often looks like crazy.’ — Song Liling, Act 2 Scene 8

For the benefit of the millennials who, according to producers R.S.’s Frontrow Entertainment and Tony/Grammy award winner Jhett Tolentino (who produced, among other plays, Here Lies Love at the National Theater in London with Mark Bautista as Pres. Ferdinand Marcos), the classic masterpiece drama written by David Henry Hwang (restaged several times on Broadway and somewhere else) was inspired by Giaccomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly which is loosely based on events surrounding a 1986 espionage trial about a mysterious Chinese opera singer Shi Pei Pu and a French diplomat Bernard Boursicot.

“Mysterious, oriental and a woman,” is how R.S. described the character.   

Sweet Deception by Manny Librodo ‘Happiness is so rare that our mind can turn somersaults to protect it.’ — Rene Gallimard, Act 2 Scene 6

French actor Olivier Borten plays Rene Gallimard (as named in the play), a former French diplomat who relates the story of his passionate, disastrous affair with Song Liling from his cell in a Paris prison where he is serving a long sentence for treason. The affair lasted for 20 years, and didn’t Gallimard discover Song Liling’s real identity during their intimate moments?

The play’s movie version stars John Lone as Song Liling and Jeremy Irons as Rene Gallimard.

The Untitled Song by BJ Pascual ‘Do you believe everything that I tell you?’ — Song Liling, Act 1 Scene 8

“That’s the whole mystery,” added R.S. who chalked up quite an acting record between 1990 and 2018, including a Best Actor (for Bhoy Intsik, directed by Joel Lamangan) from the PMPC Star Awards, Sinag Maynila and Subic Bay International Film Festival (SBIFF). “Direk Joel has been nagging me for another film but I begged off. I told him, later na lang after I did M. Butterfly. When the play was revived on Broadway recently (starring Clive Owen and Jin Ha), I thought that it was time to bring it to life once again, to the theater audiences of today. After all, this is the only ‘one’ role that continues to remain closest to my heart.”

There will be minor additions in the restaging, such as the three characters and the inclusion of Rica Nepomuceno who will be performing as an opera singer.

The Chrysalis by Wig Tysmans “I have known and been loved by the perfect woman.” — Rene Gallimard, Act 1 Scene 3

“There will also be three nude scenes,” warned R.S., “so the play is rated R-18. We took the initiative of doing the rating.”

Marketed like a Broadway, M. Butterfly is perhaps the biggest theater event this year. Part of the promo is the auction of limited-edition photographs by the country’s “Magnificent 7” photographers (with the titles of their works) ­— Jun de Leon (Rhapsody in Blue), Raymund Isaac (Ingenue), Manny Librodo (Sweet Deception), Mandy Navasero (The Way of All Flesh), BJ Pascual (The Untitled Song), Wigs Tysmans (The Chrysalis) and Patrick Uy (The Splendor of M). (Note: Funfare has deemed Mandy’s photo “too daring” for this paper’s readers, showing Olivier Borten nude beside a blanketed R.S. in bed, so only the works of the six photographers are printed here.)

The Splendor of M by Patrick UyArt for the masses is a shitty excuse to keep artists poor.” — Song Liling, Act 1 Scene 8

“We couldn’t decide who among the seven photographers should shoot the photo for our posters, so we ended up having them all,” explained R.S. who thought of the idea with Jhett and PR man Toots Tolentino. “All seven of them did the job gratis et amore. The photos, three limited editions each, will be auctioned off and the proceeds will be donated to charities of their choices. The staging of the play is non-profit; proceeds of the play will also go to charity.”

Titled Chrysalis, the photo exhibit will be held from Sept. 12 to 30 (for the duration of the M. Butterfly staging) at the main hall of Maybank Performing Arts Theater, with the bidding starting at P50,000. (For details of the silent bidding, call Isha Germentil at 0917-6233834. Tickets to the play are priced at P2,000 for Zone 1; P1,750 for Zone 2; P1,500 for Zone 3; P1,250 for Zone 4; and P1,000 for Zone 5. Call the same person at the same number.)

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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