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Opening night – Short & Sweet Theatre Penang – A Synopsis of Two Plays

Wednesday, September 3 opens the third annual Short & Sweet Theatre Festival at the Penang Performing Arts Centre. This is the third year that I have been involved in this festival, and I’ve had a lot of fun along the way. This year, like last, I’m directing one piece and another one that I have written is being directed by someone else.

How does it work? Playwrights send in their best short plays of 10 minutes or less. About 10 plays are shortlisted to be produced. Directors are assigned and actors recruited who will then compete in a bunch of categories such as Best Script, Best Director, Best Actor, etc …

This year I’m directing a piece called “The Surgeon’s Creed” written by Eoin Carney. It’s a fun little piece about a cocky surgeon who meets another “surgeon” at a party, though he’s about to get a big surprise when he finds out that they aren’t exactly the same kind of surgeons. As director, I put another spin on the script by casting the other “surgeon” as a female and the cocky surgeon is trying to pick her up. It creates a lot fun tension on stage. I cast my daughter alongside one of my fine young actors from school. It’s going to be funny.

The play I wrote is called “A Pinch of Fate, A Shot of Destiny” in which the Grim Reaper (or whomever you want to call him) comes to pick up his next victim, Rebecca, who is scheduled to be flattened by a bus on that particular morning. However, Mitch misses his own bus and ends up at the wrong corner on the wrong day which enables him to miraculously save Rebecca’s life. This angers GR so much that he plots to get back at both of them. This piece is being directed by Matthew Koh and starring Sudhan Nair who both recently directed a revival of the Malaysian theatre piece “In a Nutty Shell” here in Penang. Mitch and Rebecca are being played by two of my young talented actors from my school. I haven’t seen too much of what they have done with the script, but I can’t wait to see it. I’m sure it’s going to be really fun.

Short & Sweet Penang runs from Sept 3-6 with 10 plays being performed each night. The awards ceremony will be held after the show on the 6th.

Come on out if you are in town!

Short & Sweet Penang

Getting Ready for Short & Sweet Penang

This is the third year that I’ve been involved with the Short & Sweet Theatre Penang festival which is kicking off next week. In 2011 I submitted my short play “Drive All Night” which came home with the Audience Choice Award. That was a lot of fun. Last year my script “No in Spite of Itself” won for Best Script, which was an honor for me. Even my daughter won the award for Best Supporting Actor – Female. All the awards and honors are great, but they are certainly secondary in my book. Here’s a few things I especially like about this festival:

  • It’s a great intro to live theatre for a lot of performers. This festival attracts a lot of young people who may haven’t had the opportunity to perform. It’s a stretching and fun experience, and, hopefully, it will connect them to the magical world of live theatre for the rest of their lives.
  • Second, it’s a fun mix of professional and amateur performers. It’s great to see those who work in the performing arts take part in the festival right alongside the newbies. What a great way to learn! The mixture and interaction is fun for all involved.
  • For me it’s a great bridge into the community. I can become somewhat isolated with work and home and work and home, but this is a tangible opportunity for me to do what I love in a community setting. I meet new people, network, learn, interact, and, generally, just have a good time!
  • Lastly it’s about watching the varied performances. Some great. Some, frankly, not so great. But that is what’s engaging about this show. It’s 10, 10-minute plays. If one’s not good, it won’t be long until the next one comes. It’s also a great way to judge performances and to see what is and is not an effective way to act in or direct a piece.

The festival kicks off this week with the dance portion.

Next week starts the theatre portion. My script “A Pinch of Fate, a Shot of Destiny” will be one of the scripts being produced. I’m also directing another one called “The Surgeon’s Creed.” Two other scripts being produced were submitted by my students, so I’m proud of my drama group making some great in-roads into the local theatre scene. If you are in Penang next week, stop by PenangPAC and check it out – September 3-6.

Short and Sweet Penang 2014

The Sistine Chapel Dramatic Sketches

Our school is pretty cool. Each May we have a week we designate as our Fine Arts Festival where we have band concerts, live theatre (that’s my category), and art displays. We hold it at the Penang Performing Arts Centre. It’s a great event. My original musical, “Boardwalk Melody”, will be debuting during that week this year. More on that later.

The art department approached me a while back and said they they were going to make a replica of the Sistine Chapel. It will be about 8ft high, 12×8 ft in measurement. The young artists are working on recreating Michelangelo’s masterpieces for the ceiling, as well as a few of the other murals. The art department wanted me to write some dramatic sketches which could be performed in the chapel during the festival in order to help them understand the works.

I readily agreed and then quickly asked my writing buddy Jackie to see if she wanted to write one of the sketches while I took the other three. She agreed. And now they are all complete. I just finished editing Jackie’s sketch this afternoon, and it’s a fine script called “Reluctance”, it pairs Moses with Michelangelo as they banter back and forth talking about the art. It’s a fun dramatic piece that everyone will enjoy.

Here are the brief synopses of the three that I wrote which focus mainly on Michelangelo’s works:

Sketch 1: “The Greatest Heavyweight Fight of the Ages: Almighty God vs. Nothingness” – this one focuses on his works of creation from the viewpoint of a boxing broadcaster and his color analyst. It will be fun and entertaining.

Sketch 2: “Apathy” – this one focuses on the creation of man and woman and banishment from the Garden of Eden. I focused this one on God’s attempt to reach man but man’s continual lackluster and limp-wristed efforts to reach back to God. The imagery of the limp wrist, of course, comes from Michelangelo’s iconic painting of creation of man. It’s a fairly poignant and interesting piece.

Sketch 3: “The Life of Christ in Verse” – this one focuses on Rosselli’s and others’ paintings on the life of Christ. I decided to do something different on this and wrote a lyrical, rhythmic chant which combines the imagery and meaning behind the four paintings: Sermon on the Mount, Delivery of the Keys, The Last Supper, and The Temptation of Christ.

I really enjoyed writing these. I’ll be working with some of the actors over the next five weeks as they prepare for the mini-shows. It’s going to be a lot of fun and will bring some meaning and drama to the Sistine Chapel.

If you are going to be in Penang the week of May 22, please come and check it out!

Try Something New: I Write Songs

When was the last time you tried to do something where you felt completely out of your element? When was the last time you tried something where you felt completely clueless about how to proceed or what to do?

I feel that way all the time because I like to create songs, but I don’t know the first thing about music. The last music class I ever took was in 4th grade. I remember I learned a tune on the flut-o-phone. My mother played the piano, and I remember asking her as a small boy if I could learn. I took one lesson from her and then didn’t want to do anymore. I regret that now. About 12 years ago, I heard my friend say that he practiced the guitar for 30 minutes a day for 6 months and after that time he could play songs. I decided I wanted to play enough to strum chords and make songs, so I did it. So I know a set amount of guitar chords, but that is it when it comes to music. I can’t read a note.

Honestly, I know nothing about music, but I’ve written several musicals – of course, not without help. Here’s what I’m working with now, my ipad Garageband.

garageband

This week, I started writing a mini-musical to enter in the Short & Sweet Musical festival later this year. I have a solid concept, but was wondering how to pull it off. Here’s the way I write music:

I turn on my digital recorder and then just create some sort of catchy melody in head which I will hum or sing with mock lyrics into the recorder. Once I have that basic tune, I’ll sit at my computer with my headphones on, listening back to the tune, and I’ll start pounding out some lyrics.  As I polish the lyrics, that usually helps to refine the melody, of which, I’ll re-record with my vocals.

This week, however, I discovered that I can get out my ipad and peck out the melody on the grand piano. So now, I’ll record the melody on my ipad, combine the melody with my vocals on Audacity, create an mp3 file, and then call in the cavalry.

I’ll send my crude recordings to my co-composer who does all the heavy lifting, since she actually knows what she is doing. She’ll arrange, record, and score the song until it’s amazing.

So I just finished part I of my new mini-musical. Sounding great, so far.

I love musical writing. It’s a very fun, rewarding creative outlet that is different from storytelling.

So if I can write music, trust me, you can do anything you always wanted to do but were afraid to try. Go for it!

And have fun doing it!

 

 

j

RLT Players: The Final Three Sketches

One week from tonight, we’ll be doing our dress rehearsal for our brand new show “Captured in Time & Space”, a series of 9 dramatic and musical sketches which highlight the defining moments of life. In two previous posts, I broke down the first 6 sketches and now I’d like to do the same with the final three. And if you are in Penang, please come see the show at PenangPAC, Nov 22 & Nov 23. It’s going to be something special.

Sketch 7: Light a Candle

I wrote this sketch to be a simple expression of a daughter’s love to her father, whom she lost to a tragic accident when she was a child. The candle, and its flickering light, become a symbol and means of communication with her father in heaven throughout the course of her whole life. This sketch is backed by some beautiful theme music written by RLT alumnus Shion Beak.

light a candle

Sketch 8: Jerome, the Malevolent God-King

Jerome was a two-year old abandoned script that I resurrected. Originally titled “Jerome the Cruel and Merciless” I reworked it into more a fantasy tale, with a grandfather telling the story to his granddaughter. It turned out to be a fun sketch. And when Aaron enters as Jerome on the back of Joseph, it’s pretty classic.

Jerome

Sketch 9: Captured in Time & Space: The Musical

The show finale. I wrote this piece this past spring for two purposes. The first was for RLT and the second was to enter it into the KL Short & Sweet musical festival. I enticed Shion Beak to join me and help write the music and performance track. It chronicles three individuals who all have reached the end of their rope, and they cry to the heavens that if “Where you want me to go, but I can’t go alone.” It’s a poignant tale with fun music. It was fun to see how the short and sweet crew produced it, but I’m so excited to see the response as the RLT Players tackle it – especially with the awesome choreography of Rachel Chand. It’s going to be a great show ending. Can’t wait. Only one week!

captured in time and space

 

All photography by Michael Deeb.

RLT Players: The Second Three Sketches

This is part two of three, briefly highlighting the dramatic sketches I wrote and which will be performed at PenangPAC on Nov 22 & 23.

From previous post:

Sketch 1 “Black & White”, Sketch 2 “The Loudest Child in Church”, Sketch 3 “No in Spite of Itself”

Here’s the middle three:

Sketch 4 “Skydiver”

The idea behind this sketch was to use skydiving as a metaphor for being afraid to jump into a relationship that one knows is right. Lexi and Jaime are excellently funny in this one. I really like it.

Skydiver

Sketch 5 “I Once Was Blind”

Jackie came to me with a rough sketch – a comedy – about two people who had gotten lost out in the woods – had fallen off the wrong path. I suggested that we turn this play on its head and I wrote a draft script making the two guys political prisoners who play games in their head to escape their reality. Wow! This one is intense and Jessie and Jackie are just awesome in going back and forth between play-acting and real-life. Heartfelt and poignant.

I once was blind

Sketch 6: “The Giant Squid that Ate Georgetown”

Sometimes I have no idea where my ideas come from. This was the first sketch I wrote for this show. I wanted to write a crazy comedy, and that it is. Really fun. Light-hearted, and all the actors are just fantastic.

Giant Squid

RLT Players: First Three Dramatic Sketches

The new show I wrote and am directing for The RLT Players is entitled “Captured in Time & Space” with the by-line of “Defining Moments of Life.” This is an eclectic and really fun group of dramatic sketches, combining comedy, musical, dance, and drama in a poignant show which highlights life itself and those moments that none of us will every forget. I’ve created Sketch Fact Sheets which give you a glimpse of what each one is about. Below are the first three. Here are details on the show itself:

Venue: Penang Performing Arts Centre

November 22, 5PM & 8PM; November 23, 3PM & 8PM.   Adult 20RM/Student 15RM – Suitable for all ages.

Sketch #1: Black & White

This is a lyrical, rhythmic dance. Done a capella. Choreographed by Rachel Chand.

black and white

Sketch #2: The Loudest Child at Church

Jennifer gets crazy and wild in this one. Really funny and, eventually, meaningful.

loudest child

Sketch #3: No in Spite of Itself

This is the Short & Sweet award-winning sketch winning “Best Script” at Penang SS Festival in September this year. There are many different meanings of the word ‘no’.

No In Spite of Itself

Sketches 4-6 coming soon!

Thank you to Michael Deeb for his awesome photography!

 

 

“Art inspiring art inspiring art” – My first fan art.

Humbled beyond belief, really.

Fan art, for one of my works. Really?

A very gracious and talented artist attended the performance of my short play “Almighty Might” at KLPAC last week. He wrote to me the following:

“I’m not much of a writer and hardly have anything to do with acting or theatre. I draw. So after watching the play and looking up the script you have so generously shared, I’m inspired to draw this – as a thank you to you – for giving us, the audience, reader and the world such a beautiful gift.”

Below is his amazing work of art inspired by the performance. As the director said to me when seeing this work of art, it is art (written play) inspiring art (drama performance) inspiring art (see below.)

Humbling indeed. Do check out this artist’s blog and see his other amazing works. HERE!

070_almightyMightA4

“Almighty Might” – How short & sweet it is!

I’ve had the distinct privilege of watching my short play “Almighty Might” being performed at the Short & Sweet Festival KL under the very capable direction of actor and director Colin Kirton. Here are my thoughts:

Wow! What an amazing job they did! With three actors and a director’s vision, they brought down the entire regime of Antoine by simply having a courageous man stand and stare at the presidential palace.

The direction really was superb. I think Colin has an excellent chance to win the best director’s award. What was done extremely well was the narration. There is quite a bit of narration in my piece and it was divided up evenly between the various actors – and the narration was fast-paced – extremely fast paced – but very clear and easy to follow. The actors went in and out of various characters and moved around the stage freely, using lighting and movement to energize the staging and make it seem like there were a whole force of individuals who had come out to the square to “wait for the revolution.”

Unfortunately, I have to leave on Saturday and so won’t be there for the final performance. Hopefully, we will make it to the special GALA night which is Sunday evening – where the awards will be given out. I won’t personally be there, but I’m hoping the production and script will be up for several awards. Here’s keeping our fingers crossed!

2013-10-24 22.56.45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

almighty might