Did you know that Norberto Eugenio David III or much popular as Norby David is one of the newest faces in the Philippine theater scene lately?
He is now with Overtone band and was previously a member of the famous OPM Band Rivermaya.
In this Psst.Ph Part of the Story Series, Norby talks to us about his career in Philippine Theater and his experience in the industry.
Full Name: Norberto Eugenio David III
Alias: Norby David
Birthday: November 14, 19… secret. Haha!
Education: Some College
Tell me something about yourself that people don’t know:
I’m actually very shy. These days people call it “extroverted introvert”. But, yeah, it takes a while for me to warm up to people.
What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?
Been facing a few challenges lately, so I’m a bit detached. But at the same time I know that things, be it challenges or meeting people, happen for a reason.
When did you first know you wanted to become an stage actor?
I’ve always been open to learning different forms of performing arts. I guess it was just good timing that the auditions for the Manila production of Green Day’s American Idiot happened when it did. I had just quit my old band and had a lot of free time and, honestly, I felt a little lost.
During the run, my name would pop up in some reviews, and even some people involved in the show had a lot of encouraging words about my performance, so I thought, “Maybe I’m on to something here…”
But beyond all that, what keeps me coming back is the people. The things I learn from everyone, the friendships formed – it’s priceless. it kind of compensates for the notoriously low talent fees. Kind of. Hehe.
What was the first show you ever did? And hows the experience?
My first show was Green Day’s American Idiot under GlobeLIVE and 9Works Theatrical. It’s one of my fondest memories. The dynamic of that production was so profound and I have to applaud the Executive Team for seeing the magic in what would look like a disaster waiting to happen to an ordinary person. I could talk about this show for days.
What has been your favorite role so far?
I’m only in the middle of my third show EVER. So all of the roles I’ve played are special to me.
Have you ever played someone of the opposite gender? (If not do you want to try it?) What was that like?
No, I haven’t. In this show (Aurelio Sedisyoso), though, there’s a scene wherein the males and females trade roles and I have to act like a female dignitary. It’s fun, but I don’t think I can do something like La Cage or anything like that.
What show/shows are you currently working on?
As of this interview, we are approaching the final weekend of Aurelio Sedisyoso. I play the young Manuel L. Quezon during his years of being a fresh new lawyer up to his Gubernatorial position during the American occupation. As Aurelio’s childhood friend, I try to convince him that compromise is the better for the country than sovereignty.
I heard the Tanghalang Pilipino’ Aurelio Sedisyoso is your first full tagalog play, so hows the experience?
Yes, it is! It’s pretty tough for a person like me who, in casual conversation (in both English and Tagalog), already easily gets tongue-tied and stumbles on words. Add memorization, choreography and nerves to that? You just know something is bound to go wrong. When I nail my lines in a scene, I’m literally jumping for joy once I exit the stage. My co-actors have actually witnessed that.
What are the learning while doing your first full tagalog play?
The language in this play is DEEP! So aside from pronunciation of words I’ve never heard before, I had to look up their meanings to understand what the conversation is about. Thankfully, Sir Chris (Millado) and Sir Nick (Tiongson) have been VERY patient with me.
Have you ever forgotten your lines, or a prop, or choreography during a performance? What happened?
Countless times! It happens to everyone. My biggest disaster was when I skipped a line in a song and sang the next line by mistake. When it was the actual time for that line, my mind went blank. That was painful.
What is something that you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting out as an actor?
When rehearsals for American Idiot started, I cancelled all of my other work so I could focus on the show. I realize now that I can handle doing both with proper time management.
Besides acting, what other training have you had (voice, dance, stage combat, etc.)?
I have weekly voice sessions with my coach, Jojo Acosta. Without him, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this far in theater. I wish I had other training, but that’s it.
How do they memorize alot of lines?
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. It also helps when you know where the conversation is supposed to lead to in the scene.
If you could choose, what three actors would you really want to work with?
That’s a very tough question. Because, only being in this industry for a little over a year, I’m still not familiar with a lot of actors.But in the few productions I’ve been in, the cast have all been so amazing that there is no need for me to wish for anyone else to work with. It would be nice to work with Nino Alejandro though. He’s an old friend of mine from long before either of us started in theater.
Why do you think theater is important?
I think all art is important. It is a reflection of a culture, an emotion, a state of mind, an idea. Without theater, television or movies would never have been invented. Can you imagine that?
Why do you think so many aspiring actors end up giving up on their dream?
Here in the Philippines, you really can’t support yourself on a theater actor’s salary. First of all, the salary is usually so low that there should be a clause in the labor code about it. Secondly, it isn’t consistent because shows here don’t run for very long unlike in London or Broadway. So you have to continuously look for work, and that doesn’t even assure that you’ll get the job. Many actors give up on the dream and get a “real” job, while others… just chase the dream in another country.
What is something embarrassing or unexpected that happened to you on stage?
During AI, there’s a scene where a riot ensues and everyone is throwing around bags of chips and rolls of toilet paper. Well, there’s no time to properly clean the stage after that scene during the show. So further into the show, there’s a scene where we’re dancing around then suddenly collapse and drop to the floor to act dead. Being short of breath from all the dancing, I accidentally inhaled a crumb from those chips and started choking on it… while trying to play dead…
What are some of the greatest fears you think actors/actress face?
A bad review. Some of them just can’t get over a bad review. Some even take it as far as declaring war upon the person who wrote that review.
What do you need in order to become a successful actor?
Just be open to growth and learning. Never think that you’re the best because that’s when growth stops.
What makes a good stage actor in your opinion?
Nerves of steel, a quick mind. Theater is unpredictable so you really need that. I also think a good artist must know when to step back for the sake of the art and not just try to outshine everybody to stroke his/her ego.
What is the most rewarding part of stage actor?
After all the hard work we put into rehearsals, seeing the finished product and the applause for a job well done always puts a smile on my face. But more importantly, the lessons we learn from each other and the friends we make along the way.
What are the pros and cons of being a actor? Please be specific.
You get to pretend to be someone else, and get paid for it!
It isn’t an office job.
You get to make people happy (well, depending on the show)
It doesn’t pay very well
You can’t work from home
What goal are you working towards within your career and when will you know you have reached it?
The most immediate goal that I probably have is a lead role in a show.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?
Just go for it. There’s no harm in trying. The only people who don’t fail are the one’s who never try.
How do you see yourself 20 or 30 yrs from now?
Really, really old…? But seriously, I think I’d like to be retired by then but still an active supporter of the arts.
What legacy you will leave on?
More than my craft, I’d like to be remembered simply as a good person.
Any final message? Its time to shine!!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has believed in me and saw the things I failed to see in myself. These are the type of friends everyone needs. To all the readers: Be that friend. You never know whose life you’ll be saving.
And, of course, thank you, Axl, for doing this interview.
All photos from the official facebook of Norby David and AXL Powerhouse