Sophie Wright joins the AussieTheatre team to bring you updates and insights from the current WICKED tour in Manila!
Let me introduce myself and tell you briefly who I am and the reason for my writing articles for Aussie Theatre…
I am Sophie Wright and I joined the cast of the amazing Broadway musical WICKED last year as the Elphaba understudy and in the ensemble for the Australasian tour. When I found out that WICKED would first be performing in New Zealand, I knew exactly where that was, but my knowledge of where Manila was situated (the next place we would be going to) was very sketchy. I have to admit my ignorant geographical skills led me to think that Manila might be a country! I googled Manila, and I discovered that it was not a country but indeed the capital city of the Philippines with a population of 19 million – nearly 20% of the 98 million people living in the Philippines. Wow.
Getting the opportunity to go to such a city, I wanted to make this trip worth my while. Yes, performing to hundreds of people each night is definitely an incredible opportunity and such a privilege as I get to dance and sing my way around the stage in amazing green costumes and rather pointy wigs. I then began to think about the people in the Philippines who might not be able to see the show. This country has such a contrast in wealth, which we all noticed the minute we got off the plane. Driving through the streets you see an abundance of shanty houses, amazing street food, people just casually having a nap on the side of road, chickens, cats and dogs scrambling around and this hustle and bustle of people in a large city. Then, as a contrast, soon after arriving, we visited a massive shopping mall with opulent shops and restaurants, just half an hour away. My fellow cast members and I found it difficult to really conceptualise the enormity of these two wealth distinctions. I decided to do a little more research and found out that the Philippines is one of the most seriously poverty-stricken countries globally with most people living on less than $1 a day.
[pull_left]Philippines is one of the most seriously poverty-stricken countries globally with most people living on less than $1 a day[/pull_left]So why am I writing these series of articles whilst WICKED performs in Manila? I felt I needed to share my experience of living (for a short time) in Manila with all you AussieTheatre readers, and to hopefully enlighten you about this beautiful city.
Preparing for the articles has also made me realise how lucky we are to be living in such an amazing country as Australia, and what we can do everyday to benefit our lives without material possessions. I feel, as performers, we are always dreaming about that next job, that next contract and that next audition. Of course, it is what all performers want to do and it is our livelihood, but sometimes we get into a cycle of saying to ourselves, ‘I will be happy when…’
What I have learnt whilst being here, so far, in looking around at these families who have nothing, is that most of them seem happy and contented. They don’t have material possessions, or all these things that we are lucky enough to be born with yet, what is so glaringly obvious, is the acceptance of their ‘lot’ in life. Kids play happily (mostly on the footpath) and, as women and men go about their daily lives, you can hear laughter in the streets.
If you can take one thing from this article let it be this: If we can learn to live in the moment, and truly be grateful and appreciate all the amazing, loving people we have in our lives, the roof over our heads and the nourishing food we get to eat everyday, then our lives can be more abundant and fulfilled, and we will be more readily available to help others who are in need.
Stay tuned Aussie Theatre readers, future articles will enlighten you of life here in Manila as we perform in WICKED. I have been emailing a few orphanages about donating some school items to the kids, and a future article will focus on the outcome. I will also be writing about the extra matinee WICKED is putting on and the silent auction afterwards, with all proceedings being donated to the “Typhoon Yolanda” (you might have heard it as Typhoon Haiyan in Australia), fund to help rebuild the lives of people who lost everything in the recent typhoon. I will give you more information in my next article on how you can make a donation.
For more information about WICKED in Manila, visit the WICKED website wickedthemusical.com.au