The World Crashing Down: AKA – “My Show is This Week”

I’m a writer. I love writing.

I’m a director. I really enjoying directing.

I’m a producer. I like producing.

Yes, there’s a distinct step-down there. Writing and directing unleashes the creative demon inside me in very different ways. Producing, well, that’s where the stress comes from.

And this week, four and a half months  of preparation comes to fruition, which really feels like the world crashing down around me. Actually, I’m sitting by the ocean as I type and each of those waves reminds me of something else I must get done before the show date.

Here’s a last minute list:

seating arrrangment – in a black box modular setting and we are still working on configuration.

Promotion – yes, must sell those remaining seats. But  luckily, tickets are going quickly.

FOH – Front of House – oh, this reminds me that I need to arrange front of house staff for each shows. Oops! Forgot this one.

Wednesday is bump-in day. All props, set pieces need to be transported. Then the massive task of rigging and focusing following our lighting plan. Then mic set-up and sound check. Then cues! NO! CUES!!!! It takes so long. Then adjust lights because the director wasn’t thinking ahead and got a new idea once he saw the lights.

Arrange food for the team. This is important.

Transport too!

And then technical rehearsal, and then our ONE CHANCE on-site dress rehearsal. Yes, we only get to perform in the venue once before the show date. It’s a massive challenge.

This, and more, is what I’m staring at this week, thus world-crashing-in felt appropriate.

Producing drama is the most work I’ve ever in any one task. But don’t get me wrong. It’s also the most rewarding. I love it all.

It’s going to be a great week!

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Shakespeare Demystified: MacBeth

Shakespeare Demystified: MacBeth

I had the opportunity to see “MacBeth” performed in the accessible and always enjoyable stylings of the KL Shakespeare Players’ Series Shakespeare Demystified. This troupe brings Shakespeare to life for the modern audience by engaging the viewers by interspersing backstory and context into the original language of the Bard. It’s a terrific way to make these plays enjoyable and accessible to a modern audience who may not be too fond of the archaic and enigmatic ways of Shakespeare verse. I’ve seen many of their shows over the years including last year’s The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and my favorite The Merry Wives of Windsor. Once again, the troupe did not disappoint. They gave a spirited and engaging performance with minimal props and lighting changes. They did include wonderful live sound effects courtesy a troupe member on the bongo drum adding some wonderful sensory rhythms and effects to the experience.

The show began a little “thick” and slow as we tried to figure out who this MacBeth character was. Was he a hero as they tried to portray him? His heroic nature seemed a little overshadowed in this production, most likely because of time, making him seem less a tragic figure and more a villain, or perhaps a pawn of his evil wife.

But all of this mattered not because of the terrific chemistry between actors and the high energy performances which demanded justice for MacBeth’s treachery. And yes, he received it.

I’m a big fan of seeing Shakespeare live, and the KL Shakespeare Players’ once again provided a gripping and thrilling evening of theatre which I cannot recommend enough. They put a lot of work into this production, so at least you can do is spare a little of your cash for a great night of entertainment.

The run at penangpac finished yesterday, but they head to Kuala Lumpur to be featured at KLPAC so do make your way to support this superb show!

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An Overview of My Dramatic Productions

As I finished my first re-staging of one of my own dramatic works over the weekend, it made me a little nostalgic for all the full-length productions I’ve produced, written, or co-written over the past eight years. I’ll list them in chronological order with the show’s venue as well. Lots of good times here.

2008 “What I Wouldn’t Give for a Monkey Love Potion” (comedy – staged at Dalat Chapel) (unpublished)

2009 “A Tad of Trouble” (comedy-drama-musical – staged at Wawasan Open University) (unpublished)

2010 “Take Two” (comedy-musical – staged at Wawasan Open University) (available in paperback)

2011 “Spy Blue” (thriller – staged at Wawasan Open University) (available in paperback)

2011 “Romans on the Couch” (comedy – staged at Penang Performing Arts Centre) (available in paperback)

2011 “The Road Less Traveled by the RLT PLayers” – staged at Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2012 “Life with Stewart” (drama – staged at Penang Performing Arts Centre”

2012 “The RLT Players Present: Drive All Night (Back into Your Arms)” (variety – staged at Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2013 “Grandparents’ War” (comedy – Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2013 “The RLT Players’ Present: Captured in Time & Space” (variety – Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2014 “Boardwalk Melody: A Musical” (Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2014 “RLT Players Present: For All Generations” (variety – Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2015 “A Tad of Trouble: A Musical” Penang Performing Arts Centre

Future Works

December 2015  RLT Players Christmas

May 2016 “The Magic Pool”

 

Wow! That’s a lot. I absolutely love writing and producing my own work. What a privilege. There’s nothing like doing original drama for the first time ever. Lots more to come. Stay tuned.

Zander’s Monologue

In May, I’m directing a re-staging of our “smash-hit” comedy-drama-musical “A Tad of Trouble” at the Penang Performing Arts Centre. There’s a lot to like about this musical. Strong characters, a unique premise, and just lots of fun! Zander is one of the guardian angels in the play and at the beginning of act two, right after intermission, he lays out his ideas in a philosophical manner. It’s a true summary of the entire storyline and what the guardian angels are up against each and ever day. I’m happy to present “Zander’s Monologue” from “A Tad of Trouble”.  For full effect, read it very dramatically!

What is the nature of man? Is it evil like exhibit A: Obediah Clementine, our friendly fiend. He’d sell his own mother. And actually I think he did that a while back. Shameful, I know, but I do believe he got a fine pair of leather sandals in exchange.

Or is the nature of man more like exhibit B: Thadeus Phineas. Slightly rotten at the core with a glimmer of goodness around the edges. Honestly, Tad wants to do good, but he also is just as likely pull the hair of a little girl or snatch his teacher’s golden broach. Or is the heart of man pure and true like exhibit C: ah … Hey, what happened we have no exhibit c’s anymore? So what does that mean? Are there only 2 colors anymore, only black or gray? Is the heart of man black as Obediah’s soul – if indeed he has one? Or is it merely gray – as dull and gray as Tad’s attempt at righteousness? Who shall lift them from this depravity?

What a pathetic choice! Certainly not Obediah. So that leaves us with Tad. Shall the singing boy with weak convictions and weaker vocal chords be able to muster any hopeful sounds raising above a whimper? Or shall all of mankind sink in despair and the gates of hell itself will not be able to hold the weight of the guilt, the shame, the downright nastiness of….

RLT – The Little Group Near to My Heart

I’ve teaching, directing, and writing drama for a number of years now. I guess it’s been seven and a half years. I’ve learned so much – mostly that I don’t know much about acting or directing. (On the writing part I think I’m okay.) I get to work with young high school actors – some with no experience -some with a lot of experience. It’s really rewarding. But none of our productions have been as rewarding as my group called The RLT Players. (RLT = Road Less Traveled)

A few years back our school had that saying as a theme for the year. A couple weeks into the first semester, a couple actors who didn’t get a part in the semester’s drama, asked me if there was something else drama-wise that we could do.  I had just been to a performance of the Footstool Players – a wonderful Malaysian drama group which do short skits in the form of dramatic storytelling. I thought that perhaps we could try.

As they say, the stars aligned. The Penang Performing Arts Centre was just opening and offering usage of their facilities for free. We booked a show in their black-box theatre for December 1, 2011 – two shows. I recruited up to 9 actors to join the group we called The RLT Players. We ordered purple shirts with our logo on it. I wrote seven short sketches, lasting an hour and fifteen minutes. We rehearsed and waited for people to show up, not really knowing what was going to happen.

The comments and gracious words we received from the audience were amazing. We had done it! Pulled off a great show, in little time, not really knowing what we were doing.

We came back the next year with a brand new show or original material I wrote called “The RLT Players present: Drive All Night.”  Last year was: “Captured in Time & Space.” And this year, in a few short weeks, we will have our fourth original performance – 4 shows over three days entitled “For All Generations.” I’m really excited about it. It includes one 10 minute musical, several comedic pieces, and several dramatic sketches all centered around how our past has shaped us into what we are today.

I love writing for RLT. 10-minute plays are a treat when they are written well, when they are well centered and direct stories. They can hit home in powerful ways. I’ve had people walk away from our performances amazed at what the kids have done. I’ve been amazed to. It’s such a privilege to watch them grow and see it all click in front of an audience when the lights come up.

I can’t wait for Nov 20 because of that reason.

Here’s our entire cast and crew for this year: 11 actors, 4 technicians, 1 director, 1 choreographer.

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The Power of Drama in Penang

What makes a performance real?

I had the privilege of pondering that question a lot last evening as I took in a performance of Frank McGuinnes’ Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me at the Penang Performing Arts Centre.

The intimate theater setting had me sitting literally four feet from the three talented performers who were chained to the floor held captive in a Lebanese jail cell.

It made no difference that there were no walls.  The actors created the walls – impregnable walls that held the actors inside – yet invisible walls which enabled the audience to see the sweat dripping from their face, see their hands shaking in fear, see their brows curl up in anguish, see the spit flying from their mouth as they yelled at each other defending their soul against the taunts of their cell mates who tried to lay bare the last human emotions pent up inside.  The actors spent every last ounce of their being defending their honor, trying to make sense of the senseless, and just passing the time with vapid memories which ended up serving as painful reminders of the captivity.

It was a powerful, moving night of drama.

While this show ended its run today, the three talented actors will be back next month for the comedy The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspeare (Abridged).

Anyone who can appreciate the art and dedication it takes for an actor to be real on the stage, owes it to yourself to see this upcoming show.

If the intensity is anything like last night, it will move you.