My Final Two Penang Shows in the Works

My Final Two Penang Shows in the Works

I’ll be leaving my beloved Penang after 11 wonderful years. I decided to go out with a bang and produce two shows within one week during our school’s Fine Arts Festival in June. So this week, I fired up photoshop and did some mockups for both of the shows. I’ll have lots more to say about both of these shows as the dates approach, but suffice it to say, I can’t wait. It’s going to be really fun to go back into the archives and pull out a bunch of our most favorite material to say goodbye with. So here they are:

May 12-13:  RLT Players: Our Best

May 20: RLT Musical

rlt-musical3rlt-classic-2

Theatre: The Open Art Form

I enjoyed giving a mini-lecture to my Intro to Theatre Arts class today about the topic, “What is theatre?”

Theatre is many things, but most importantly, it’s an open art form. The live audience makes it unique and ever-changing. The interaction with the audience makes every performance different. It can inspire the actor to achieve heights previously not achieved. It can deflate the actor when the audience is “dead” or when they don’t laugh at a crucial part or, even worse, when they laugh at a dramatic climax.

But it’s this interaction which thrills and elevates live theatre to terrific peaks.

One of the fascinating aspects of live theatre is that during the intermission, while the audience is mingling and chatting about the performance, the actors are indubitably back stage chatting about the audience. Is it a good audience?  Is it a bad audience? Are they catching the jokes? Were they brought to tears? What in the world is wrong with them? What can we do to get them more involved? Yesterday’s crowd was much better.

I’ve heard all of these and more about the audience during intermission. Actors are fragile beings in this way. They  need the encourage, support, and utter love from the audience. They crave it. They demand it. And if they don’t get it, their egos will never be the same (or at least until they have a better audience the next night.)

Live theatre inspires me, so I love to inspire students to try this completely wonderful art form. It’s a life-changing experience. It’s a unique open art form. It’s the stage, baby! Love it if you dare!

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

Black Box Experimental Theatre: Coming Soon!

An experimental, audience participation script that I wrote over Christmas has been chosen for production at the Penang Performing Arts Centre on September 6 as part of their Black Box Experimental series. I’ve hired my super-talented, former actress Yzzy Loh to direct the piece, and she came up with the first graphic poster for the event. Here it is. Really cool, isn’t it? It’s going to be a fun and interesting night! More info to come.

black box

Experiencing the Finale

Experiencing the Finale

Last night was the finale of the limited three-show run world premiere run of “The Secrets of the Magic Pool.”

It was everything I had hoped for and more.

First off, the crowd. It was a sell-out! I give it an “A”! Excellent, engaged crowd that got the raucous, rolling laughter going back and forth all over the theatre. It may have been the best crowd that any of my shows ever experienced – even to the point of being a little over the top. But that’s okay. It’s much better than the alternative.

The acting. I give it an “A”. These young actors were superb. A few flubbed lines here and there that the audience wouldn’t even have noticed. Their recoveries were smooth. They performed with such passion and life that the audience couldn’t help but love them. I’m so proud of all of them.

Tech. “A” – We finally nailed it. This was a taxing show for a variety of reasons. 106 lighting cues. Nearly 50 sound cues. Follow-spot.  Tracking 11 microphones. Lots of moving parts. The first show we saw some of the challenges manifest themselves on-stage with some uneven and loud sounds. But this final performance was perfect. A great blend of sound, wonderful scene transitions. Everything was executed perfectly, performed by 4 your techies who never get enough credit.

The story. Well, yes, I am biased since I wrote it. But I am very pleased at the interpretation and the way the actors communicated the story. And based on the audience’s response, it was a huge success.

I hope other theatre troupes will try out the script sometime. It’s challenging yet very fun with all kinds of interesting themes woven through it.

This was such a fantastic night that I’m sorry it’s over.

But with any worthwhile endeavor, it was worth the hundreds of hours of dedication to pull it off.

So now, what’s next?

Oh yeah, now I need to write a new Christmas show for the RLT Players. A writer’s job is never done!

 

The Purpose of Dress Rehearsals (REDUX)

Yesterday, I wrote this about our final rehearsal BEFORE dress rehearsal for my new show that opens at Penangpac on May13. Here were my last minute thoughts:

You come to the point when constraints within and constraints without shape the product of your show whether or not you are satisfied with it. Am I? Satisfied? I am delighted by my wonderful actors and the myriad of helpers who have done everything from costumes to sets to sound to lighting. I am completely satisfied with that. It’s time that truly tests my patience. It keeps clicking away whether ready or not. And so it’s time that I’m not satisfied with. It’s gotten the better of us. For now. But when dress rehearsal comes, even time can’t stop the exuberance and passion from within us. We shall offer our best to our paying customers and be happy that we left it all on the stage. 6 days until opening. “The Secrets of the Magic Pool.”

So now, as dress rehearsal is here, on May 12, 2016, it made me think back to a post I wrote from two years ago. It still very much applies. My emotional roller coaster as director has finished. I’m going to sit back and enjoy.

 

THE PURPOSE OF DRESS REHEARSALS

I’ve been directing stage plays for seven years now. I’m no professional, and I’ve learned a lot throughout the years. Dress rehearsals are the emotional peak that every director has to scale before a new show. Once it arrives and the actors poke through the clouds and stand on that emotional peak, a director’s job is, in essence, over. Not officially, of course. There will still be production meetings before each subsequent show, but the main work is done. Everything now rests in the laps of the actors.

Dress rehearsals accomplish a few important items. First, there’s the technical aspects of the dress rehearsal that must be perfected. In our productions, oftentimes, dress rehearsal is the first and only time the actors performing at the actual venue. This is, of course, stressful because the stage is different. We are working with lighting we haven’t seen yet and it takes hours for the actors to get familiar and comfortable in their new surroundings. As a director, I have to make this happen, step by step walking through the set, the new blocking, and the lighting scheme with everyone. I’ll be at the venue for many hours with the tech crew prior to the casts arrival.

Once the technical aspects of the performance is clear, I have to encourage the cast that they can, indeed, do this. And this, for me, is the ultimate meaning of dress rehearsal. Its instilling in the cast the idea that the show is now theirs -they are in control – they can be successful – they are prepared for anything to happen. This last point is key. In live theatre, the unexpected can happen at anytime. Dress rehearsal is instilling in the cast that they can overcome any obstacle, be it a missed line, a broken prop, or smudged make-up. No matter what is thrown at them, the show must go on.

I’ve had shows where the electricity went off in the final act. Yes, it was awkward. But the show must go on.

I’ve had shows where actors completely blanked out on stage.

I’ve had shows where actors forgot to bring a crucial prop on to stage.

I’ve had shows where a singer started off-key, or a backdrop started to fall. In this particular case, a quick thinking person backstage stood on a chair and held up the backdrop in excruciating pain until the end of the show.

This is what dress rehearsals teach – no matter what, the actors and crew can handle it.

So I love it when dress rehearsals are finished because my job is done. I can sit in the audience and enjoy the show and the actors can relax and have fun on stage.

Here’s to dress rehearsal day! Our show opens tomorrow.