Another look at Magno Rubio
Playwright by Lonnie Carter
Based on a short story by Carlos S. Bulosan
The Romance of Magno Rubio is a play that romances the senses in order to reach deep to find the soul.
Mag-no Ru-bio. Fi-li-pi-noy
One mil is what I earn
What does it profit a man if he loses the whole world
But keeps his soul
What does it--if he never has any of the world to begin with
What does it--if he comes to this land and he is meek?
and he does not inherit the earth
For the earth is not his
No matter that his hands and feet
and face and eyes
are encrusted with the earth…
There is, too, the casual, inadvertent blending of ethnic instruments and the ease with which the characters go in and out of multi-languages-- English, Spanish, Cebuano, Tagalog -- and different regional accents.
Visually, there are many inspiring moments. The movement and slapping of sticks accompany verses;
tak-tak-tak for a slow verse;
takatak-katak-katak for a faster terse verse.
The character Magno erupts into a sequence of stylized movements to depict his frenzy of picking and planting fruits and vegetables to earn more money for his Clarabelle. Eventually, the movements actually become that of “eskrima” and “arnis”, a Filipino form of martial art. A fight sequence between Magno and Claro transforms into a comical slow motion. And most visual of all is the poignant solo dance of Magno with a chair: a ballet of man, chair and shadows in dim light.
You usually see us working or waiting for work,
And you think you know us but our outward guise
Is more deceptive than our history…
For there will be days when we will stand together
Fighting for our right to stand together,
I think they will understand why we should
Stand together in our time.
As Magno Rubio drags you through a gamut of emotions and makes you laugh and cry and angry and wistful as you move with Magno, Claro, Prudencio and Atoy through the scenes, allow yourself to celebrate your brown legacy, exult in your heritage; revel in the ancestry of your birth. Feel proud, for when all things are said and done, flat noses, coconut heads, turtle arms all, size has got nothing to do with love.