Show-time!

Months of work is finally coming to a head. This past summer, I wrote the script for “Tales of Wonder II,” and I started rehearsing with the cast in August. It can, at times, get long and tedious, and the end goal can get lost in the minutia of the day-to-day preparations.

But then, it’s time. Excitement builds. Every little thing now matters, and the big things matter too – like bumping in, light rigging, front of house, ticketing issues, and display boards.

It’s worth it 100% to see these young actors take the stage, to see the audience walk in with anticipation, to see the wide-eyed delight on the kids when they hear the stories and fall in love with the entire experience. There’s nothing quite like putting on a live theatrical event.

Today, I started the process of setting up the display boards. I also checked in to see the progress on the staging. See below. Tomorrow morning, it’s lighting then sound, and by evening we’ll be painting the stage.

Wednesday is technical and dress rehearsal. Thursday – showtime!

If you are anywhere in the world close to us, you aren’t going to want to miss it.

Happy Thanksgiving from Abraham Lincoln

On this Thanksgiving, it is, perhaps, appropriate to go back to Abraham Lincoln’s words from his Thankgiving Proclamation to give us all some perspective. For Lincoln, Thanksgiving was about acknowledging the mercies of God in the midst of the great civil war the country was embroiled in. And here, in 2016, we may not be physically at war with each other, but we are in the middle of a great ideological struggle which has severely divided our nation in two. While debates of philosophy and policy are important, they are not on Thanksgiving Day. May we all pause and reflect on Lincoln’s wise words.

 

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

New Show: 8 Days Away – “Tales of Wonder”

Tales of Wonder 2 is just 8 days away from its world premiere at the Penang Performing Arts Centre. I’m so excited for this show, and I’m so proud of these amazing young actors. Here’s a snippet of three of the original sketches I’ve written for the show.

mangertalk

Manger Talk is an adorable and poignant look at the morning after the birth of Jesus through the eyes of the animals. It’s funny. And it’s meaningful. And the hats are awesome.

christmasfix

I co-wrote this one with Lilian Li. It’s a funny sketch about 2 elves trying to help a terrible mall santa, but then there’s a heart-wrenching twist. I love to punch the audience in the stomach.

onacoldwinternight

In this sketch, a girl gets lost in the snow and she’s visited by three angels to try to keep her awake as her father looks for her.

More to come. If you’re in Penang, don’t miss it!

rltposter2e

Win a Paperback Copy of “Which Half David”

Hello friends. Head on over to Goodreads on the link below and enter to win a paperback copy of my new release, “Which Half David.” It’s an explosive and fun story about a man who seems to conquer the world yet can’t conquer his own soul. If it sounds a little like King David, it’s no coincidence. But this story is set in present day Southeast Asia.

Check it out. And good luck!

Enter to Win “Which Half David”

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Five Years End – Short & Sweet Theatre Penang

Last night was the awards ceremony at Short & Sweet Theatre Penang. I have been involved in all five years, and I was delighted to win the Festival Director’s Award last night for directing and writing the play “The Runaway Slave: A Christmas Story.”

festival-director

This will be my last S&S festival, at least in Penang. It’s been a lot of fun, especially working with my talented students over the year and to see them excel on the community stage. We’ve won a lot of awards of the year, and it’s been fun to reflect upon them during this last festival. I’m most proud of the remarkable string of Newcomer Awards my students have won over the years.

Kimberly Horton, most deservedly, won the award last night for her wonderful performance as Beatrice, a widow who stands up to defend a runaway slave girl. But look at these wins, all my students:

2016 Kimberly Horton

2014 Aaron Chand

2013 Ysabel Loh

2012 Jackie Ashkin

You’ll notice that 2015 is missing in the list. Well, that’s because the newcomer I had in my play last year, Lexi Zimbulis, actually went on to win the Best Actor Female award.

Yes, I’ve been fortunate to work with some talented young stars. Other awards my students have won over the years:

2014 Tesa Sasse – Best supporting Actor Female

2015 Ysabel Loh – Best Supporting Actor Female

2014 Ysabel Loh – Festival Director’s Award – Script – Best Performance

2015 Best Overall Performance – Lexi and Ysabel “Words to Say at the End of the World.”

2012 Audience Choice Award

On top of all of that, I pitch in 3 best script awards (2013, 2014, 2015) and 1 best director award (2015).

It’s a great festival for building and showcasing talent as well as for networking with other crazy theatre folks.

I’ll always look fondly upon Short & Sweet Theatre Penang and wish it the best as it moves forward and as I move on.

 

No, The Presidential Election Process Does Not Have a Legitimacy Crisis

Ms. Katy Collin in an article in the Washington Post goes on to state how the electoral college is not fair and disenfranchises millions because it gives certain voters a disproportionate amount of say in the process of choosing a president while the voice of other voters are given much less weight.

One of the most poignant examples she cites (correctly, might I add) is Wyoming, which has less than 600,000 people but has three electoral votes as laid out in the constitution. She states that a vote cast in Wyoming is actually weighted 3.6 times heavier in the election than a voter in California because of the huge population discrepancy. A state cannot have less than three electoral votes, regardless of the size of the population.

She also goes on to state that other overseas territories of the U.S. (Puerto Rico, Guam – for example) have no say in choosing the presidency. So because of these reasons, according to Ms. Collin, the electoral college should be scraped or revamped to better represent an urbanized, modern society.

Her arguments are fine and her conclusion is solid except that the system she is describing does not describe the federal system enshrined in the constitution. She starts her argument from the standpoint that we are one nation, so therefore every vote should count the same. But we are not a nation of provinces under a unitary system. We are a federal system. We are a nation of states. These states have reserved powers granted to them in the 10th amendment to the constitution. This is the way the founding fathers wanted it. The electoral college system, while not flawless, gives a strong voice to the 50 different constituencies in the United States –  those of each state. You think the people of LA are the same as the people of Wyoming? Of course not. California still has an overwhelming say in the running of the country due to the fact of its economic power and population. But Wyoming is also a state. It has two senators. It has 1 representative. It has its own constituency, and it deserves its voice in Congress and in the presidential election.

Each vote in California counts in choosing who California wants to be the president. In that way, each vote is fair and each vote in California is the same. If a Californian wants to see that their vote has “more impact” in the election, there is an easy way for them to achieve that: move to Wyoming. And if the population of Wyoming ever gets too big, the census bureau will re-apportion those votes more evenly.

In regards to the overseas territories. Puerto Rico certainly has an opportunity to have a say in the presidential election. They could have become a state and thus qualified for being part of the electoral college, but they have chosen not to do so. Is it fair? Maybe not. Perhaps these territories could also be granted some say in the electoral college like DC was back in the 1960s.

This is the system we have. For the most part it works.  It only seems to not work when we start with the fallacy that every vote across the nation should count the same. It should count the same but only within the state.  Every vote in California should count the same as every other vote in California. Likewise in Wyoming and everywhere else.

Remember, it’s not a popularity contest. It never has been. And that’s the way the founders wanted it. Power is supposed to be distributed on a geographical basis. We should be happy that it is.