Meeting Monique Wilson - My story

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I have always been a fan of Monique Wilson. I first became aware of Monique after watching her perform in the Cameron Mackintosh hit musical Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane when I was around 19 or 20 years old.
Monique first appeared in the show from 1989 until 1992, where she alternated with Lea Salonga as Kim, a role the two of them auditioned for in Manila and helped create. Here is a video clip of the auditions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsJpfwYBx2U

When I was younger I used to attended Mountview Theatre school acting classes so was always a fan of musical theatre. I ended up watching Miss Saigon over 50 times so was quite a fan!

Monica Anne Esteva Wilson was born in Manila, Philippines on May 4th, 1970. Her father, Johnny Wilson, was a famous Philippine film and television star, and her mother, Teresa Esteva Wilson, was a successful theatre administrator in Manila.

Monique became interested in theatre at an early age and joined Repertory Philippines where she performed in several roles, here is a video of her and Lea Salonga in a popular show from the Philippines, "Student Canteen" where she and other future well known personalities were interviewed about the parts they played in the "Sound of Music" here's the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL-vcz67rts

It is really hard to sum up all the important contributions that I believe Monique Wilson has made to the Philippines, she has done so much for her country and indeed helped introduce innovative and socially provocative theatre through her New Voice Company, one of the Philippines premiere theatre companies which she established in 1994. NVC has made its mark as the countrys most political, social and feminist theatre group in the Philippines, dealing with contemporary political and social issues.
Here is a link to the website of her New Voice Company:

http://www.newvoicecompany.com

During the early days of Miss Saigon, I used to regularly watch the show and was such a fan that I actually travelled to New York City to see Lea Salonga and Jonathan Pryce in Miss Saigon on Broadway. I didnt really know much about the Philippines in those days, but I really wanted to know more. I knew many of the cast were from the Philippines and in fact used to wait at the stage door after some of the performances to meet some of the cast which in those days included Miguel Diaz, Cocoy Laurel, Pinky Amador, Robert Sena, Ronnie Del Barrio. Lea Salonga and of course Monique Wilson to name a few.

When Monique finished her run as Kim in London, she travelled back to Manila to continue to work on her New Voice Company. In fact I decided to actually travel to the Philippines for the first time to see the NVC company production of Angels in America in 1995 at the Music Museum in Greenhills. I remember meeting Monique after the show and stayed at the back of the theatre while she was interviewed by various TV channels about the production. After this visit in 1995, I fell in love with the Philippines and indeed the Filipino people and am now happily married to a Filipina and we have two lovely children. I guess my life and chosen path were shaped in part by my love of Miss Saigon, Monique Wilson and indeed the caring and lovely nature of every Filipino I met. I actually used to work with a Filipino guy as well who I consider to be a true friend, in fact he taught me my first words in Tagalog, but I cant repeat them here haha.

What made me want to write this short blog was in fact a visit I made last night following an invite by Monique herself, how could I say no, to watch her students at the East 15 Acting school just outside London, where she is the Head of MA/MFA Acting (International) department.

Monique has been involved with V-DAY which is a global movement to end Violence against Women and Children. Monique directs her students and other members of staff each year in a performance of The Vagina Monolugues, an award-winning play which is based on V-Day Founder/playwright Eve Ensler's interviews with more than 200 women. With humor and grace the piece celebrates womens sexuality and strength.

Watching the performance last night, I was deeply moved to do all I could to help in some way with this very important cause. I personally find it shocking that women and girls are treated in such an appalling way, in fact the statistics dont even bear thinking about and are truly shocking, 1 in 3 women and girls have been subject to some form of violence or abuse.

What I found particularly moving and a courageous move by Monique was that at the end of the performance, Monique actually asked that any women in the audience who had been a victim at some stage of their life should stand and many did, this was a very important way of highlighting the very important work that V-Day does in raising awareness and fundraising, and also the shocking statistics, here is a link to the work of the V-Day movement:

http://www.vday.org/home

At the end of the performance Monique took time to sit with me and we talked about her work both here and back home in the Philippines, I was truly struck by all the amazing things she has achieved for her country as well as for us here in the UK. In fact Monique is currently giving up her time to help direct another project for the community, when I can, will post them at Fil-Event.com.

When I arrived home last night I really wanted to tell the world what a truly inspirational, dedicated and caring women Monique is. She could have just spent a few minutes talking to me and then moved on, but instead she spent so much time talking with passion and enthusiasm about what her work, in fact we even spoke about Miss Saigon and her time on the show (I brought that up haha) I truly believe that if it is in any way possible Monique should be honoured for the work she does and has done both for her birth country and indeed all she is doing here in the UK, not only as an excellent lecturer at East 15 but also for her tireless work on the V-Day movement.

Please also sign up to the V-Day campaign http://www.vday.org/onebillionrising-signup.html Thanks so much!

Monique was not aware that I intended to write this and I hope she doesnt mind and neither do the owners of the various videos and websites I have posted. Thank you.

Malcolm Conlan, www.fil-event.com






 

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