Sunday, October 20, 2013

theatre and people

I haven't had the time to write or think much these days because I just wrapped up my most recent theatre project "me, now" sponsored by the Exxon Mobil Campus Concert series. It's a privilege to be working with this group of talented young people - people who have had experience with theatre to people who just started out. As my directorial debut, I am incredibly fortunate to have "beginner's luck"and with the advise of mentors like Huzir Sulaiman, and of course, bouncing ideas with my first-mate Koon Hui, it's been generally a very rewarding journey.

I guess this experience both humbled me and opened my eyes in many ways. I have learnt from my actors - via various theatre games - their hardships and their joys/insecurities. It really speaks to me the different types of people we have on earth, and one can't help but feel, we really are children of the earth in some ways - connected yet disconnected from each other. I guess theatre is also about narratives and stories, and the way to tell it in a way that people can connect with the story and through it, with each other. It's not so much as performance, but a community and in Ben Anderson's words - an imagined community. I suppose for a good 45mins, my actors have successfully reached out to an audience and they had a story to tell, they became part of a transcendent part of time for that period. It will be the most magical moment, and despite waxing poetics about the whole experience, my dear readers, I apologise for boring you.

In a way this experience is also bittersweet (like my play HAHA!), because as rehearsal times wanes and the performance time rises, I felt a strange and tearing pain. I really wished my mother would be in the audience, and it should also be so fitting that I had an empty seat beside me. I could almost imagine her sitting beside me, holding my hand and telling me how proud she was of me - and I wished to thank her for believing in me despite the setbacks, the youthful uncertainties...She loved theatre because she loved life, and I know this moment would have meant a lot to her too...and that knowledge saddens me in this complex dialectical relationship of knowing what she would want, and being sad because she can't be here which in turn forms new knowledge of what she would think, and so on....

I don't know why this production was so emotional for me, I suppose in some ways, these lines from the (adapted) script hit me hard:

Domina: I...really wanted her ... to come...[begins to cry]
Jack: Hush
Domina: I really...need her, kor.
Jack: ... (quietly) me too. You've got your kor here!
Domina: I know. (sadly) But it's still not enough. It isn't.

I suppose I have been grateful to all my friends who have been there supporting me through difficult times, but when this line grew on me, it just suddenly hit me all over again that it really isn't enough - because everyone is different and there is no way anyone can replace the person you've lost - friend, family or foe.

I am thankful and yet woeful at this production, and deep down in my heart that was the way I would have wanted it - this complex blend of emotions that don't always go together, the tears of happiness mixed in with tears of bitterness. I don't suppose it'll make a good story that leaves people feeling cathartic, but alas, as a director - perhaps my intention is not to entertain, but to instigate.

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