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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“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!

“A Pinch of Fate” – My Play Opens in Sydney, Australia Today

I’m very excited (and very sad because I can’t be there) to have my short play, “A Pinch of Fate, A Shot of Destiny”, opening tonight as part of the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival in Sydney, Australia. It will be performed five times from Feb 4-8 at The Fusebox, Factory Theatre, Marrickville. The piece is being directed by Tara Gallop-Brennan.

Sydney’s festival is billed as the largest 10-minute play festival in the world. My play was fortunate enough to make the “top 80”, so we’ll see how it does. Here are the actors in some of the promotional shots. This is Hilary Park. She plays the “narrator.”

Hilary Park headshotShe’s not a normal narrator, however, She is, I guess you could say, the Grim Reaper who has come for her daily conquest. On this particular day, she is planning on taking Rebecca with her. Rebecca is scheduled to be hit by a bus. However, as fate would have it, Mitch was running late and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (at least in the narrator’s perspective) and ended up saving Rebecca from her appointed destiny. Well, this deed makes the narrator angry indeed, and she plots to wrestle back the day from Mitch’s intervention. But wait, what’s that flirting going on between Rebecca and Mitch. Can destiny be changed? Does fate actually have an unexpected turn? Not if the narrator can help it. Here’s Rebecca (Eden Scott) and Mitch (Matthew Archer):IMG_6837

 

I do hope that the play has fate and destiny on its side and will be enjoyed by many this week. Do go on out this weekend and see it for me if you are in Sydney.

Break a leg, guys!

 

Insight into Writing my New Show (3)

Only a couple more days until opening night of the new show I’ve written. I had previously highlighted the first 6 dramatic sketches and here are the other four.
sketch fact sheets a woman at war“A Woman at War” is a WWII historical mini-musical which focuses on a woman, Sarah, saying goodbye to her new husband on the home front, and doing what she can to support the war effort while missing her love. I wrote the lyrics and book and created the melodies to go with it. I then gave the piece to my school’s music teacher, Laura Danneker, who took the melodies and composed the rest of the music along with the performance track. I really love this piece. It’s separated in three acts: The Wedding (and goodbye), The War (on the home front plus Johnny on the battlefield where he gets injured), The Homecoming (when Sarah realizes that Johnny comes home a different man). I won’t give away the ending, but it is emotionally powerful. This was originally performed in the Short & Sweet Musical Festival KL in September this year. I’m happy to be producing it for our show. It’s our opening piece, which gut-punches the audience right off the bat. Good stuff.

sketch fact sheets Pinch of Fate

This is a fun piece which won Best Script in the Short & Sweet Theatre Penang 2014 and will be performed as part of Short & Sweet Theatre Sydney in 2015. I’m happy to be producing it for our show as well. The narrator (call her the Grim Reaper if you like) comes to get Rebecca who is scheduled to be flattened by a car today. But Mitch, who is running late, changes his routine and ends up saving her, thus creating a chain reaction of coincidences which bring Mitch and Rebecca into an improbable love relationship. The narrator keeps changing the storyline in order to get back at them, but, let’s face it, the Grim Reaper is just having an off-day. Who can change fate and destiny?

gods one questionA person ends up at the Pearly Gates of Heaven and meets God. The person thinks she knows what God wants to ask her: “Why should I let you into heaven?” And so the person goes through the four possible answers for this question only to find out that all of the answers are wrong. As the person panics, trying to figure out what to do, she realizes that that wasn’t God’s question after all. I wrote this as a way to pose questions, stir theological debate, and show a simple expression of what might it be like to stand at Heaven’s Gates. It’s a fun and poignant piece. Quite emotional at the end. I like it.

sketch fact sheets what was it like

The last piece of the evening, “What was it like”, is not a play, but a seven stanza nostalgic look at the past, recalled through various lines of prose and simple acting. My choreographer also added a beautiful dance which compliments the piece and Hui Min Tang wrote a beautifully rich piano piece which perfectly sets the mood. The actors ask questions like, “What was it like to hear that the president was shot?” “What was it like to type your college papers on a typewriter?” “What was it like to sit shirtless on the back of a gray-haired water buffalo?” “What was it like …” It ends with them stating, “If you haven’t asked these questions of your parents, grandparents, or other elderly people in your life, do it today before it’s too late. Because we are who we were.”

Lights down.

Then end.

 

 

 

Crying Takes Practice

I am working with two young actors for the upcoming Penang Short & Sweet Theatre festival. I am directing a script written by RLT member Jackie. The script is called “Noticed” about a girl who brings an eating disorder on herself by wanting to be thin and wanting to change her life.

As a director, I’m having fun bringing a new twist to the script in having both girls dealing with issues within themselves while dealing with the eating disorder with each other.

It’s a real emotional piece where I’m trying to get the actors to dig down deep and bring out the tears, frustration, and utter hopelessness of being in a situation where one ultimately does not like who she is.  If we can pull it off, it should be powerful.

This is definitely a stretching exercise for my young actors. I find that a lot of young actors tend not to do the hard scenes. Whether monologues or school plays or practice scenes, they tend to gravitate toward light fare – comedy. It’s an easy choice (though hard to do it well). Serious drama can so easily fall into insincere melo-drama if one’s not careful. So that’s why I find a serious script like “Noticed” to be somewhat refreshing, watching the actors try to figure out how to say a line just right, or how to place a hand on the other hand in order to coax a response.

The real challenge is to get them to cry, for real. Today we talked about personalization – bringing in a scenario from one’s own real life in order to replicate the essential feelings and responses you need on the stage – and substitution where you substitute one scenario (seeing your beloved cat lying dead on the ground, for instance) for another scenario where you need to cry or bring deep emotion.

It’s fun to see what they come up with. But it is a challenge to make them cry. After all, crying takes practice.

So if you are in Penang the week of September 11-14, I hope you’ll come out to the Short and Sweet Festival and catch “Noticed.”

Script chosen for Short & Sweet Theatre KL – “Almighty Might”

I’m thrilled to announce that my dramatic sketch “Almighty Might” has been selected for inclusion in this year’s Short & Sweet Theatre Festival KL. I’m super excited about it. I wrote “Almighty Might” a couple of years ago for my drama group The RLT Players, which I formed after being inspired by a Malaysian drama group: The Footstool Players, who perform short sketches and pieces of dramatic storytelling that are fun and uplifting.

Well, I was even more thrilled when I heard that Colin Kirton, founder and artistic director of the Footstool Players is directing my sketch for Short & Sweet. I’m so excited. Kirton is a well-known, Malaysian actor who I’ve seen in a variety of performances, including the recent re-staging of Broken Bridges at PenangPAC.  Here’s his Wikipedia page which gives his bio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Kirton

This is the first of my dramatic pieces to have an industry professional at the helm.

I must book my tickets to KL so I can see the performances.

Very excited!

My Musical “Captured in Time & Space” Heading to Short & Sweet KL 2013

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m very excited that the 10-minute musical I wrote with my musician collaborator, Shion Beak, was selected to be produced and performed for Short & Sweet Musical KL on September 25-28.  Here’s how it happened:

March: I wrote the lyrics of Captured in Time & Space, set to some simple melodies, and made a very rough vocal recording of it.

April: I recruited Shion Beak, because she’s actually a musician unlike me, to listen to my painful recordings and see if she could transcribe the melody.

May: She came back to me with the basic melodies recorded from a keyboard. We met several times to where I drove her crazy as we perfected the melodies of the 4 basic songs which make up the musical.

June: Shion did her magic in Garage Band, adding lush instrumental harmonies to the music, creatively taking my ideas and making them so much better. We met several times, again, to work on the final performance track.  So we ended up with three distinct recordings for our 9:30 musical.

A performance track with the melody still in it. (to help the singers learn the songs)

A performance track without the melodies (to be used during the actual performances)

A performance track with demonstration vocals (sung by my daughter and myself)

We sent all of this, plus our registration form, to the director of KL Short & Sweet Musical for evaluation.

They liked it! So what does that mean?

A musical director will be chosen. He/she will audition a group of singers/dancers, and then, following the musical’s libretto, they will choreograph and stage our musical.

It will be performed for four nights in a row, in conjunction with 9 other short musicals. On Saturday September 28, awards will be given for the best musical, director, composer, etc…

So I am very privileged to get to attend and watch my musical come to life. It will be thrilling to see how they interpret it.

I will personally be up for two possible awards:

Co-Composer (with Shion Beak) and Lyricist.  Awards or not, it is the first time someone else has staged one of my musicals.

It’s going to be very exciting.