Play ‘Ward 448’ shines spotlight on HIV patients

STAR CIRCUIT - Ricky L. Calderon (The Freeman) - January 29, 2020 - 12:00am

“Ward 448” is a three-act play written and directed by Rodel Mercado.

The play tackles the spread of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and its effect to the Filipino family. The play was written to open the eyes of the students on the problems brought by HIV to the body and mind of the patient, as well as the people close to them.

The play will also show the chilling effect to the community by people not knowledgeable about AIDS when a relative is found to be HIV positive.

In the play, Jennylyn Braza, a reporter for TV 9, will interview three people confined at Ward 448. They are Carla Mae, a mother with a husband and three kids; Kevin, a 28-year-old male call center agent, and Francis, a 55-year-old gay who used to work as a showgirl.

The play will also present the relatives of these patients and how they would face the truth. It will show the perspective, knowledge and acceptance by the students on the plight of the HIV patients. The play also aims to educate the students to control and prevent the spread of the dreaded disease.

“This story is close to my heart because I have a dear friend who had HIV,” said Direk Rodel in an interview at the Frontline office the other day.

“I saw how my friend suffered from the disease, was cured but still succumbed to the illness. But there is really a need to educate everyone about HIV, how it is acquired and the importance of having protective sex. The incidence of HIV cases have risen to alarming proportions, especially among young people, as young as 12 years old, according to my research.”

Since the play will be shown to students, Direk Rodel aims to provide them with the right knowledge about HIV and how it can be prevented.

“I know the subject matter may come as a shock to the parents, teachers and students as well but I believe it is important to inform them about it.”

Playing the lead roles in “Ward 448” are April Gutierrez as Carla Mae, actor-commercial model VJ Mendoza, and theater veteran Ronnie Martinez who is doing his very first lead role in a stage production.

“I am excited to do this character but I am quite nervous since it is my first time to do a lead role,” said the actor. He was challenged by the role because Direk Rodel told him he wants him to deliver his lines with conviction. “But the way I should say my lines has to be different. Basta mahirap ito gawin. But I am challenged.”

VJ Mendoza says he had been wanting to go back to theatre and he believes “Ward 448” is the right comeback material.

“The role of Francis is something new for me. New in the sense that I am asked to be daring in some scenes,” said VJ. He has a kissing scene with fellow stage actor Kevin Posadas, plus a sexy scene to be shown in silhouette.

For her part, April also finds her role as Carla Mae interesting.

“I play a laundry woman who was raped that’s why I got HIV. My dilemma is how I will tell my family about my sickness,” said April. “And how will my family accept what happened to me.”

She said the audience should watch out for her breakdown scene.

“Ward 448” will open on February 2, Saturday, at the San Sebastian College Recoletos Auditorium. Shows are at 10 am; 12 nn and 2 pm.

Other playdates are February 15, 16, and 29.

According to Direk Rodel, they are waiting for the availability of RCBC Plaza in Makati. The play is also intended to be toured in different schools and universities.


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