Actor-performer Roeder Camanag does in theater what a regular mainstream TV and movie actor does; that is, juggle his time for at least five consecutive stage plays.
Last year, Roeder was featured in five plays, three of which as male lead (Threesome for the Virgin Labfest of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, in June; followed by Tanghalang Pilipino's Banaag At Sikat (a rock musical; playing the role of Felipe, the rich scion's son); and, in October, in the Gantimpala Theater Foundation's El Filibusterismo, as the ill-fated Simoun).
In August, he appeared in the Dulaang UP musical Orosman At Zafira (as Boulasem, ruler of Tedenst tribe) and before the year was over, did three roles (as Jason/Creon/Aegeus) in a thesis production of Greek dramatist Euripides' Medea, with award-winning actress, Irma Adlawan).
Two of these productions, Banaag At Sikat and Orosman At Zafira had Roeder doing an almost simultaneous appearance.
"It was tough!" he told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in an interview before the start of the opening for this year's grand restaging of Francisco Baltazar's Orosman At Zafira, held at the Mall of Asia Centerstage on February 4.
"Ang nangyari no'n, nag-morning show ako dito (sa Orosman...), tapos, nagma-matinee show sa Banaag At Sikat. Kaya bilang na bilang yung oras ko!"
The seasoned thespian has no reason to complain, though. For he loves to act and does theater like it's second nature to him.
LIKE A PUZZLE. In the current version of Orosman At Zafira (OZ), Roeder is playing the role of Abdalap, a ruthless villain, also from Tedenst, led by his father, Boulasem (Nazer Salcedo). Abdalap is the brother of Orosman (played by Jay Gonzaga), the love interest of Zafira (Delphine Buencamino and Maita Angeli Ponce alternating), the princess-daughter of Sultan Mahamud (Neil Tolentino). Sultan Mahamud, the leader of the Marueccos Tribe, has Gulnara (Jean Judith Javier) for his wife.
The other main characters of OZ are Zelim (Acey Aguilar and Kevin Concepcion alternating); Aldervesin (Red Concepcion); Zelima (Tao Aves; the narrator); and Ben-Asar (Felipe Ronnie Martinez; father of Zelima).
Last year, Roeder did Boulasem, a more sober but equally fierce character. The other warring tribe of the classic epic poetry is the Duquela, led by its ruler, Zelim.
What can Roeder say about the challenges that go with playing each character?
Roeder explained: "'Yung challenge [sa akin] of doing Boulasem, nu'ng first time na ginawa ko 'yung role, was that I did it as a replacement. Hindi kasi ako 'yung original na dapat gaganap. It was Ricky Ibe and Bong Embile. Tapos, si Bong, nagkaroon siya ng hip injury, so I had to take his place, mga two weeks before the show. For, me, 'yun ang challenge nu'n.
"But playing both Boulasem and Abdalap has a common challenge, that is, the language," Roeder stressed. "'Ang pinakamasarap gawin sa pagganap sa kanila is to make sense [out of the language]. Kasi nga, di ba, we all know na 'yung Balagtas [pseudonym of Francisco Baltazar, the 19th century Tagalog poet] language, napaka-'archaic'?
"But really, para hanapin mo 'yung tamang phrasing, sa tamang songs, 'yun ang pinaka-challenging," he further said. "Ang masaya do'n, para kang nagso-solve ng crossword puzzle. That's why I enjoy doing Balagtas.