Farewell, Penang Performing Arts Centre (penangpac)! I will miss you!

At the conclusion of my last show at penangpac yesterday, I was highly honored by my friends there with this amazing parting gift. This was completely unexpected. I was bowled over by their thoughtfulness. I have grown my theatre arts background and experience at their famous stage 1 and stage 2 venues. So I thought, as a way of reminiscing, I’d list all the shows I had a part in since penangpac opened in 2011. It’s quite a list, and I completely enjoyed everyone of them.  But first a look at this amazing gift – a commemorative pewter Malaysian kris (asymmetrical dagger). It’s so awesome!

penangpac gift

So here’s my chronological, penangpac drama/musical list. I’m so grateful for everything.

  • November 2011 – Stage 2 – “Romans on the Couch-INTERACTIVE” (writer, director, producer)
  • November 2011 – Stage 1 – “Romans on the Couch” (writer, director, producer)
  • December 2011  – Stage 2 – “RLT Players’ present The Road Less Traveled” (first RLT show ever! – writer, director, producer)
  • May 2012 – Stage 1 – “Life with Stewart” (writer, director, producer)
  • September 2012 – Stage 2 – Short & Sweet Theatre (writer)
  • November 2012 – Stage 2 – RLT Players “Drive All Night) (writer, director, producer)
  • May 2013 – Stage 1 – “Grandparents’ War” (writer, director, producer)
  • September 2013 – Stage 2 – Short & Sweet Theatre (writer, director)
  • November 2013 – Stage 2 – RLT Players “Captured in Time & Space”
  • May 2014 – Stage 1 – “Boardwalk Melody: A Musical” (writer, director, producer)
  • September 2014 – Stage 2 – Short & Sweet Theatre (writer, director)
  • November 2014 – Stage 2 – RLT Players “For All Generations” (writer, director, producer)
  • May 2015 – Stage 1 – “A Tad of Trouble: A Musical” (writer, director, producer)
  • September 2015 – Stage 2 – Short & Sweet Theatre (writer, director)
  • December 2015 – Stage 2 – RLT Players “Tales of Wonder”
  • May 2016 – Stage 1 – “The Secrets of the Magic Pool” (writer, director, producer)
  • September 2016 – Stage 2 – penangpac Black Box Experiments “How to Build a Dictator” (writer, actor, producer)
  • November 2016 – Stage 2 – Short & Sweet Theatre (writer, director)
  • December 2016 – Stage 2 – RLT Players “Tales of Wonder II” (writer, director, producer”
  • January 2017 – Stage 2 – “The Last Bastion: A Staged Reading” (writer, actor)
  • May 2017 – Stage 2 – RLT Players “A Collection of Our Best” (writer, director, producer)
  • May 2017 – Stage 1 – “RLT Musical Revue” (writer, director, producer)

Wow! That’s 22 theatrical productions I had the privilege of being part of at penangpac. I shall miss it all very much.

Thank you, penangpac! Hopefully we shall see each again one day.

 

 

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#19

This weekend, I’m producing my 19th full-length theatrical production in the past ten years. This one is called RLT Musical Revue, a compilation of the best musical moments and short musicals that I’ve produced in the past. It’s an eclectic and fun show, filled with talented singers, dancers, musicians, and actors. I’m so grateful for my brilliant co-director Christopher Ramos who actually knows music, while I simply pretend. But between us both, we’ve seen the show come together, a rough dress rehearsal last night notwithstanding, and I’m excited to see what will happen this Saturday. Two shows only. My last on in Penang. I’m going to miss it. Here are a few snippets which will be part of the show. (photos by Jonathan Steffen)

aWomanatWarRLT MusicalTheJingle

RLT Musical Revue Poster

Here’s an advance copy of our new RLT Musicial Revue poster. This unique show has 21 different songs and/or short theatrical musicals ranging from 1 minute to 10 minutes. We have a troupe of 22 singers and dancers who have been working feverously to get this show ready. And ready, we are not! At least not yet! But posters mean promotion, promotion means tickets sales, ticket sales mean the audience is expecting something. So not time to stop. We must and will get ready. More later …

RLT MusicalPOSTER2

A Short Narration #1

RLT  Musical Revue is a special show of musical theatre (May 20th) which highlights the songs and short musicals which I’ve written or co-written over the past eight years. It includes 21 pieces of varying lengths, including 3 short musicals of 10 minutes or less. To tie the show together, I’ve written a few narrative pieces which introduce certain segments of the performance. Here’s a short one entitled Sacrifices & Hope. It introduces one of my favorite pieces, the short musical “A Woman at War” which tells the story of Sarah, who fights World War II in her own way on the home front.

Sacrifices and Hope. Hope is a platitude which means nothing without sacrifice. Hope doesn’t bloom alone in a barren and frozen winter soil. Hope requires sacrifice. For who would trust in a man who isn’t willing to lay does his life for his love? Who would trust in a God who wouldn’t firsthand understand the pain and sorrow holding back the spring’s green growth? Hope grows in the soil of sacrifice, on the distant battlefront, on the lonely home front, in the dead cold mud of the first day of March. As sacrifice is planted, hope grows.

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I’m Heading On-Stage. Yes, I’m Nervous

I’m super excited and super nervous for January 21. Penang Performing Arts Centre is sponsoring a staged-reading of my brand new full length play “The Last Bastion.”

lastbastionposter

The purpose of the event is to get some audience feedback for the play’s development. I want to eventually send it on to some theatre troupes and festivals to see if anyone would like to produce it. Oh, and I hope it will be an enjoyable evening of entertainment for all involved.

I wrote this play over a two week period in October, and I’ve revised it many times since.  It was one of those creative instances of “boom” – it seemed to write itself. Very easy. I love it when a creative work comes together like that. This was not a laborious exercise. It was a fun jaunt of creativity and I hope everyone likes it. Not only for the very (hopefully) funny scenes, but also for the timely themes about modern society in the United States. My goal for writing this was not to present any answers. It was to explore points of view, perceptions, and relationships – especially family relationships.

Here’s the short synopsis:

The Last Bastion

最後的堡壘

With great trepidation, Seth Parsons brings his atheistic Chinese girlfriend home to meet his conservative Christian parents with the hope of receiving their blessing. A reading of Mark W. Sasse’s latest script followed by a Q&A segment with audience.

I’m playing Seth Parson’s boisterous father George, an outspoken conservative Christian who has his own radio show on God and County Radio.  It’s a fun role, but I’m still nervous. I’m comfortable teaching in the drama classroom, but on stage. Oh well, I’ll give it a shot. At least I’ll have the script in front of me.

Christopher Preslar is playing Seth Parsons. I only know Christopher for his superb directing and acting in Penangpac’s “The Glass Menagerie” last September. Actually, it was after watching his show that gave me the new idea for “The Last Bastion.” So I’m really looking forward to working with Christopher on this. He’ll be directing “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” later this spring, so I’m looking forward to that too.

Alison Hurst is playing Hannah Parsons, George’s wife. Alison is a drama teacher at Uplands School, and she, like me, is not used to be on the stage, but I’m so glad she agreed to join us. I’ve seen some of her productions and she brings a great eye and creativity to everything she does.

Vinna Law rounds out the cast by playing Rainbow (Jia-Yi), Seth’s atheistic Chinese girlfriend. I got to know Vinna this past November when she directed my play “Alone in a Bar” at the KL Short & Sweet Theatre Festival. Physical theatre is her specialty, but she will bring the perfect attitude and creative thinking for Rainbow, a rather complex character who is dealing with some hidden family issues.

So I think from the set up that you can see a lot of cultural clashes coming when the atheistic Chinese girlfriend of Seth walks into the last bastion of conservatism in deep up-state New York. But there is a lot more going on besides that. There are some understated themes of home and reconciliation which I hope will be discovered by the audience.

I really enjoyed writing this play, and I can’t wait to see what happens with it.

Come on out and enjoy this free event – well, penangpac is taking donations for their patron of the arts fund.

January 21, 2016 – 8pm @ penangpac Stage 2

 

The Glass Menagerie @penangpac – Don’t Miss It! Last Chance.

I just returned from seeing the classic Tennessee Williams piece “The Glass Menagerie,” – one of only three performances as a special penangpac production.

Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t miss this show!

  1. Marina Tan! Marina played the matriarch Amanda Wingfield, giving a stunning performance. The nuances, the playful southern accent, the command of the stage – the depth of the character, who on the surface seems so one-dimensional, was brought to life by this terrific performance by Tan. I’ve seen Marina in many wonderful performances in the past, but she was more than up to the challenge for this meaty role. Tremendous!
  2. The direction. American actor and director Christopher Presslar did an admirable job with the entire splendid cast. The direction was playful and relaxed, with terrific spatial features which showed the distance between the characters. The minimalist set worked very well. The pace moved quickly, but Presslar’s touch allowed the necessary quiet moments to properly pace the scenes very effectively. I was also very appreciative of the decision to not try and adapt this piece to a Malaysian setting, but let the words of Williams and his universal themes to speak for themselves. I do become tired of adaptations which changes the original script to better suit a local audience. I’m so glad this wasn’t the case. It was St. Louis 1937, as it should be.
  3. The set. I love going to shows to see how the production decides to tackle. With a combination of raised platforms, LCD projectors, fog machines, period music, and a terrific lighting plan, the set brought the play alive in all the correct ways. The focused facial lighting, the backlighting, the soft hues, the smoky feel – all of it created a wonderful atmosphere for theatre.

And lastly, I know this is four, but I have to mention Williams’ script. It’s great to see and hear a modern classic on the stage. It doesn’t happen that often, especially in my part of the world, so it is treat.

Don’t miss the final performance @penanagpac, Saturday Sept 24, 8:30 pm.

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Photos from the Show

Thanks to Jonathan Steffen for these shots from dress rehearsal for “How to Build a Dictator.”  We had 23 students for our dress rehearsal as opposed to 142 for the real show. But they were a lively bunch. I had a blast getting on stage and acting for one of my first times ever. Here’s a glimpse of our show:

Push and Pull controlling the audience.

Push and Pull controlling the audience.

The advertisement.

The advertisement.

The starer.

The starer.

Today's headlines.

Today’s headlines.

The seducer.

The seducer.

Testimonial.

Testimonial.

jstef-sep2016-8435

The revealing.

The revealing.

I'm ready to introduce our new leader.

I’m ready to introduce our new leader.

Selfies with the audience.

Selfies with the audience.

Q & A

Q & A

Here I am, in the zone.

Here I am, in the zone.

The party.

The party.

Our passionate announcer.

Our passionate announcer.