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EXCLUSIVE: Emmy-nominated actor in play on confronting mortality

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“Life is short, people should be kinder (to each other).”

ART ACUÑA

ART ACUÑA

This is what awarded actor Art Acuña told Bulletin Entertainment in an exclusive interview on why he thinks “Angels In America: Millennium Approaches” — a play he is part of that tackles the complex, often metaphorical and symbolic examination of homosexuality and AIDS in America back in the 1980s — would resonate with many Filipinos today.

“Angels In America” zooms in on the lives of two couples: Prior Walter is abandoned by his lover, Louis, as he contracts the AIDS virus, while a closeted gay clerk named Joe Pitt struggles in his marriage to his pill-popping wife, Harper. Their fates intertwine as they explore the questions of love, justice, identity, and change.

Pinky Amador

Pinky Amador

Art is Roy Cohn, closeted gay lawyer and good friend to Joe Pitt. Roy contracted HIV that progressed to AIDS, but he insists it is liver cancer to preserve his reputation.

The actor said the play “deals with our humanity” and should be seen especially by “prejudiced people.”

“At the time, there were no cell phones and all. And when AIDS came out, there’s no cure. The play is about what crisis does to people faced with their mortality. It shows the grim side of how people cope with such issues,” he explained.

Markki Stroem  and Cherie Gil

Markki Stroem and Cherie Gil

Art has had friends with AIDS and he hopes plays like this would help lessen the stigma of those who have it.

“But this play is not preachy or whatsoever,” he cleared. “It’s situational that’s why there’s humor in here too.”

More than the awards
The masterpiece has a phenomenal cast including Pinky Amador as the Angel, Angeli Bayani as Harper Pitt, Topper Fabregas as Prior Walter, Cherie Gil as Hannah Pitt, Nelsito Gomez as Louis Ironson, Andoy Ranay as Belize, and Markki Stroem as Joe Pitt. Each plays multiple roles throughout the show.

Telling Art that his co-actors often praise him for his acting skills and professionalism, he simply said it’s just that he gives “200 percent” in everything he does.

Nelsito Gomez (left) and Topper Fabregas

Nelsito Gomez (left) and Topper Fabregas

Do you know Art doesn’t memorize his lines at all? Rather, he understands it.

“I look at why the writer would write those lines and it swings in my head all the time. I don’t feel the need to memorize it, I just need to understand it and apply whatever I learn to the character,” the actor explained.

Apart from bagging a Best Actor nomination at the International Emmy Awards in 2012, Art had won Gawad Urian Award for Best Supporting Actor and an Obie Award for Special Citations, to name a few.

Yet ask Art about it and he’d downplay the compliment, saying the reward is the work itself.

Art is also part of “The General’s Daughters.” He will soon star in an indie film directed by Joyce Bernal.

(Produced by Atlantis Theatrical, “Angels In America: Millennium Approaches” runs from March 22 to April 7 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati)

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