A Night at the Theatre in KL to See My Play

I took a quick trip to Kuala Lumpur to see a production of my new play, “Alone in a Bar,” at the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival 2016. Well, it wasn’t really my play, because brave director, Vinna Law, took some bold creative choices and turned it into a physical theatre piece with pre-recorded dialogue.

I never could have imagined it in a million years, but the actors put a lot of hard work and passion into the product which I’m very happy with. It turned out to be an emotional piece that certainly gets the audience wonder. I’m sure I’ll get the chance to see a conventional staging of the piece at another time, but I enjoyed seeing how different people can see different things. So bravo to the entire cast and crew for trying something completely different.

I was also happy to finally meet Vinna Law as she’ll be joining me and two fellow actors on stage in January as we do a lightly-staged reading of my new full-length play, “The Last Bastion,” as part of penangpac collaborative events for 2017. I’m so looking forward to that!

Okay, now it’s time to head back to Penang.
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Script Chosen for Short & Sweet Theatre KL 2016

My script, Alone in a Bar, was chosen to take part in the 2016 KL Short & Sweet Theatre Festival. It will be directed by Vinna Law. I won’t have a hand in production, but I hope to get to KL and see it this fall. The script is a little different for me, about a broken man who, day after day, sits and cries himself into a stupor without ever saying a word. On this particular day, things get interesting. A little dark for me, perhaps. But I had fun writing it. Hope it turns out well!

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“Words to Say”: Encore Performance in KL

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There we are – writer/director with Lexi and Ysabel hanging out at the pre-show meeting last night. We’ve been riding our script for quite a while now. Our short play, “Words to Say at the End of the World” won 5 awards at the festival in August, and it just keeps living on. We had the honor of bringing it to Kuala Lumpur and performing it for the standing room only audience of the Gala Finals Night @ Short & Sweet Malaysia. The girls’ performance was awesome!IMG_20151101_1644173_rewind

Here they are in their mom & daughter roles. The audience was great! Lots of laughter and many touching tears as the two came to a realization of how much they meant to each other. It’s funny how life suddenly becomes serious when  you’re staring at a mushroom crowd.IMG_20151101_2330242_rewind

Here’s the festivities after the awards-ceremony. (My girls weren’t eligible since it was a showcase piece from another city.)

We have one last performance coming up. They will be giving their final curtain call at the 4th anniversary open day at Penangpac on November 15.

I’m really proud of these girls. They have tremendous talent!

Big Weekend Ahead

Lots of fun drama activities this weekend at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre!

It’s the final weekend of the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival, and one of my new plays entitled “A Writer’s Satire” is being performed by a group of Malaysian actors. Here’s the one sentence synopsis:

A writer is summoned to appear in front of the Industry Review Board – a new government agency which was established to help creative artists become more politically correct.  

It’s a (hopefully) funny and engaging look at where (perhaps) our society is heading. Director Henry Tan (whom I’ve never met) I’m sure will be adding his flair and touches to the piece, so I’m excited to see it.  I’m flying down to KL on Friday so I can watch the final two nights of the festival. Then late  Friday night, the best productions of the two weeks of the theatre festival will be announced and will perform one more time on Sunday night as part of the Gala Finals where the awards will be given out. I have no idea if  our show will make it or not, but  here’s  hoping!

However, make it or not, I DO have a show in the Gala Finals. My piece “Words to Say at the End of the World,” which swept 5 major awards at the Penang Short & Sweet Festival in August will be performed by my award-winning students, Ysabel Loh & Lexi Zimbulis. They were invited to bring the piece to KL as a showcase piece for the Gala Finals. Quite the honor! We are very excited to bring this meaningful piece to the packed house in KL.

So I’ll be on scene all weekend at the Festival. I’m sure I’ll have photos  and comments to share.

Until then, time to pack and get ready. Should be a blast!

A Mini-Tour for our Award-Winning Play

On the heels of sweeping five awards in the Short and Sweet Theatre festival recently for my short play “Words to Say at the End of the World,” we’re beginning to see that this play isn’t yet ready for retirement. I’ve been asked to have my two amazing actors perform it in three different venues over the next two months. It’s quickly becoming a mini-tour for a mini-play. It’s all very exciting and I’m thrilled to have Yzzy and Lexi get more opportunities to perform this poignant piece a few more times. So I’m proud to announce our mini-tour:

September 26 – Bayview Hotel, Batu Ferringhi, Penang – Fundraiser for Charity

November 1 – Gala Finals Night, Short & Sweet Theatre Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre

November 15 – Penang Performing Arts Centre Four-Year Anniversary Party

Perhaps we should add a European tour to the schedule. Any corporate sponsors out there that would like to fund up, send me an email!

But seriously, it’s been thrilling to see this play touch a lot of people, and it will be reaching a few hundred more over the next two months. And here are the stars of the show.

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Shakespeare Demystified: Othello

This is the fourth installment that I’ve seen from those folks who like to simplifying the Bard. They picked the tragedy “Othello” for this year’s production, and how did they do? Keep reading!

The penangpac SD playlist of the last few years looked like this:

  • 2012 Merchant of Venice
  • 2013 Merry Wives of Windsor
  • 2014 Hamlet: A Performance Lecture
  • 2015: Othello

I caught Othello on opening night at penangpac, and like any opening night, there were some jitters and jumbled lines on some of the explanations of Othello given by the actors. But this detracted little from the main course.

Here’s the way SD works: they abridge the Bard’s work down to 100 minutes, which includes the explanations. These pre-scene talks are done by various actors (with cheat-sheet in hand) as they attempt to inform the audience on the scene in which they are about to witness. These informative explanations also delve into the characters to help conjecture about motivation, often citing how scholars have interpreted the work.

What comes next is Shakespeare in his original language performed with a minimalist set.

Does it work? Absolutely!

The Shakespeare Demystified folks continue to show their enviable ability to make the works of William come alive to modern audiences who have become perhaps weary of many of his works.

The explosive ending to Othello was just that: riveting, tragic, and emotional. I even noticed a few tears in the audience.

Shakespeare Demystified’s “Othello” is an excellent, gripping, and entertaining introduction for those who think Shakespeare is hard to understand.

I highly recommend it.

Their short run at penangpac has just finished, but you can catch the SD crew at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre from April 22-26.

Don’t miss it!

Fun @ Short & Sweet Musical KL

I had a great time last night finally seeing the production of my mini-musical, “A Woman at War.”  Vivian Chan and Boon-Kit gave wonderfully emotional performances as Johnny and Sara, a young couple separated during World War II.

The direction and musical direction by husband and wife team Alvin Looi and Karynn Tan stayed true to the emotional story, and highlighted the events beautifully with a wonderful and powerful back-up ensemble.

I feel so privileged to have such a group performing my work. Their dedication and hard-work paid off, regardless of what the judges ultimately decide. I get to watch it again tonight!

There I am! They called the writer down to take a bow with the wonderful cast and crew.2014-09-26 21.49.18

 

 

There we all are. The placard outside the theatre.2014-09-26 20.11.23

Here’s the whole cast plus the great musicians.2014-09-26 20.11.38 The cast taking a bow.2014-09-26 21.48.57 Here’s the whole cast, crew, and composers.2014-09-26 21.57.37

 

One more show tonight. We won’t know until next week whether it will make the gala night. Time will tell. Either way, awesome show by a lot of talented performers.