Joseph and Francis Matheu: twin brothers–and twin theater artists

Joseph and Francis Matheu: twin brothers–and twin theater artists
By Walter Ang
May 4, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Joseph (left) and Francis Matheu.
When Joseph Matheu was born, no one knew he was going become a brother to twin Francis just two minutes later. "The doctor didn't know because during our mom's check-ups, he would hear only one heartbeat," says Joseph.

Their mother was a biology teacher and their father was a chef. "Growing up, our toys were microscopes," says Francis. In college, both took up Hotel and Restaurant Management.

However, following in the footsteps of either parent wasn't meant to be.

Joseph is now a theater and live events lighting designer, with credits such as Triumphant Peoples Evangelistic Theatre Society's (Trumpets) "Little Mermaid," Gantimpala Theater's "Kanser," and Ballet Philippines' "Romeo and Juliet." He's also been television show Eat Bulaga's resident lighting director since 2007.

Francis is an actor and choreographer. He was recently cast as Basilio in Gantimpla Theater's "El Filibusterismo" last year and has done choreography for Repertory Philippines' "I Love You Because" and 9 Works Theatricals' "The Wedding Singer."

Stepping on stage
Joseph Matheu
While he may have come after Joseph, it was Francis who pursued theater first.

"Theater beckoned when I was a college student. I saw a restaging of Trumpets musical 'First Name.' The summer after that show, Trumpets opened their very first Playshop summer acting workshop and I told our mom that I wanted to attend. I've never stopped doing theater since," he says.

Joseph soon followed the same path and started out as an actor. "When I saw Francis in his very first professional play in the ensemble of Manila Metropolitan Theater Guild's 'Romeo and Juliet,' I realized I wanted to do what he was doing," he says.

Both were cast in the original production of Trumpets' "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" where Joseph played a wolf and Francis played a unicorn. "We were once cast together in a touring production of Trumpets' "Pamilya Maleta" where Joseph played the father and I played his son!" says Francis, laughing.

"That was the production where I started noticing the lighting design," says Joseph. "I turned to look towards the control booth and it was Trumpets artistic director Audie Gemora I saw controlling the lights. He encouraged me to pursue lighting design, he was very instrumental for my becoming a lighting designer."

Going backstage
Francis Matheu
Joseph trained in lighting design at the Cultural Center of the Philippines under Jun Gomez and at Sinag Arts under Shoko Matsumoto.  "I've been juggling acting and lighting since then," he says.

Francis, on the other hand, took up a master's degree in theater arts at University of the Philippines and attended formal dance classes for two years.

"In the beginning, I just wanted to learn the basics so that I wouldn't fall behind during dance rehearsals for shows but dance has become a passion. Whenever I direct for workshops, I always end up doing the choreography as well," he says.

Francis has also done an acting workshop with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and even a kabuki movement workshop. He's facilitated acting workshops for Trumpets and Philippines Opera Company, among others.

Making their own stage
Joseph Matheu
When they're not busy with shows, the twins occasionally provide off-stage entertainment to the theater community whenever one twin is mistaken for the other.

But most of the time, they're providing entertainment to the public with the productions they produce.

"We have been producing plays since 2005, mostly full-length plays and musicals for different clients, mostly educational institutions," says Joseph.

The duo provides production support and equipment to their clients. "Most clients require a full production so we hire professionals like set designers, stage managers, sound technicians and the like to complete our team."

Leveraging their experience, the brothers founded Twin Bill Theater last year with Francis as artistic director Joseph as associate artistic director.

"Staging our own shows is one of our goals and we will get there, most definitely," Francis says. Meanwhile, the pair believes in training, equipping and involving people in the performing arts. "That's why we conduct workshops and seminars."

Bringing others to the stage
Francis Matheu
Under Twin Bill Theater's theater training series, Joseph will conduct a lighting design workshop (May 13- June 1) while Francis will teach a basic acting workshop (May 7-June 2)

"Topics for the lighting design workshop will cover functions, qualities and properties of light, basic electrical knowledge, and safety. Participants will also be taught how to prepare for production meetings, basic lighting layout, and using lighting control panels, among others," says Joseph.

He will share his knowledge based on his own experiences in stage lighting, photography, cinematography, production management and technical direction.

The pair has plans of eventually including fencing as part of their workshop series. "I took fencing classes in college and was able to compete locally. It's actually one of the things an actor must know. Francis learned it too."

Enrollment ongoing for Twin Bill Theater's Basic Acting Workshop (starts May 7) and Lighting Design Workshop (starts May 13). To be held at Dance Forum Space, 36-E West Ave., Quezon City. Contact, 09173928002 or 09274604652.

Also published online: