Sunday, 12 June 2016

a long weekend

And there we have it, the end of Long Weekend - a month-long production hustle as part of the inaugural 20-something theatre festival. It literally just ended a few hours ago and yet I'm already feeling the post-production blues. 

I believe in this production - to give a voice to the marginalized LGBTQ community. This play, is a heartfelt one written by Kenneth and I hope we have done it justice. In the midst of preparing for this show, my eyes have opened wide to the struggles and the issues being faced by the community at large. Through Long Weekend, I hope it reminds people that we are more similar than we are dissimilar - that the human condition is a universal one and we partake in shared experiences such as joy and loss, regardless of our sex, gender, age, sexual orientation or religion.

Btw, this is my first PAID acting gig - I've been paid before doing dramaturgy but I've always been doing non-paid acting gigs for stage and film. I used to think that remuneration didn't matter because I'm still new and I want to improve myself so a good learning experience felt like enough of a payment. But there's this sense of legitimacy which comes with paid work of productions that I believe in- a sense of 'hey, I'm doing good work' and I'm being recognized for it. It's a cheap thrill but one that anchors me during times where I doubt myself of being able to make a living in the theatre industry. 

I was so nervous auditioning for the role, I spent hours prepping for it in my car/in the shower/in my head because I wanted it really badly. I didn't care if the honorarium was $100 or $1, I just wanted to be able to say 'I got paid for doing something I love'. When I was offered the role on the spot, I literally screeched and hugged the director, Mitch (who probably thought me mad). 

Flashback to when I was 17, and I was finally found the courage to let myself try drama. After the many years of secretly performing monologues in the mirror at home when nobody's looking, I finally found the courage to walk up to the director of Night of Laughter in ACJC. It was off-season for bowling so I told her very frankly that I will commit my time to it; that she should audition me and give me a chance. She auditioned me on the spot and I got the role. My first role was Bill #3 in Sure Thing by David Ives. A small role but a big step. I haven't looked back since. 

From just performing to random handfuls of people, I have now performed in a production with sold-out shows and garnered good reviews (see here & here). Each small step I've taken have led me to come so far from when I first started. I know that I have so much more to learn, so much more to improve but now and then, it is amazing to see the significant changes to me as an actor. 

For those who know me personally, it is very common to hear me whine incessantly about how I'm afraid of the year from now because I have to make the choice if I want to go down the road less travelled or take some other "safer" route. It has been a dilemma that I've struggled with for years on end. Do I go to law school or do I commit to my craft as an actor? 

After this production, I realized that this is a choice that I cannot make; it has been made for me. I NEED to be in theatre - whether I can make a living out of it is another question but I feel so drawn towards this field that there is absolutely no way I can give it up. This enlightenment hit me randomly yesterday after our show. Despite just being part of an ensemble, and only being on stage at certain scenes, I had some audience members who told me that they loved my energy and enjoyed watching me on stage. Truly, these comments are much treasured, a reminder to keep striving to be a better actor. 

 One of the biggest takeaway of this production is, of course, the newfound friendships I made with the cast & crew of Long Weekend. We saw each other so frequently! We hung out after rehearsals, attended Pink Dot and watched shows together.

I'm sorry I didn't make hand-written cards! Somehow it didn't feel like goodbye and I thought that I will probably see you guys again anyway (lol) But here it is anyway, in a dedicated blog post:

To Kenneth,
You are a fabulous playwright - in more ways than one. Thank you for letting me be part of the opportunity to see your play come to life. When you announced that you got selected for this festival, I thick-skinnedly (sorry not sorry) asked you to keep me in the loop for auditions. I actually thought you wouldn't (I mean I only met you once randomly), but you did and I really have to thank you for sharing the audition details to me. 

To Mitchell,
Of course, thank you for casting and directing me! You remind me of a talking, walking University essay but you have a lovely voice so I always listen intently HAHA, but seriously, I love that you direct with heart. I'm sure you have had many sleepless nights pondering over your directorial vision and hey! It paid off! Thank you for always clarifying my doubts and answering my inane questions about anything and everything. I learnt a lot from you! I will wear white t-shirts more often too. 

To Terry,
Goldfish! Thanks for the good chats in the car on the way back from a long rehearsal. We didn't even know each other's name when we first met but we hit it off anyway! You were the first person I talked to in the production and I was so glad to have somebody I could talk to. 

To Juni,
Wtf you do not look your age?! I'll miss your youthful exuberance during rehearsals - it's very contagious! You are always bursting into the room in a song! And your voice is hella awesome. I'm so glad I got to hear you sing live during Pink Dot! 

To Tasha,
O M G I'll never forget how we totally flunked Normal's audition together and how Huzir, Claire and Faith probably thought we were both friends and auditioned together when we didn't even knew each other back then. You are so lovely, I can't describe it - like you always have this brightness that you bring around with you? Let's do theatre mods together next sem!!!

To Mario,
I'll miss you, you crazy fake Italian plumber. I love our mad times together - be it trying to seduce Ben or Japan Hour moments or doing Insanity/Zumba or hunting for healthy food and guilt-free desserts! I secretly love watching you dance - you have such an amazing physicality to you! Congratulations on getting into Laselle's MT! I'll be there for all your shows fo' sure! 

To Zenda,
Hello regal eagle, I'm still waiting to read your script!!! You know I was actually quite terrified of you because you looked so ~ cool~ but the more I got to know you, the more I was "wow this girl is so cool?!" I hope you know that you are beautiful inside and out and that you really belong in theatre. Let me know when your next show is cause I'll be there!!!

To Haoboon,
Wts HB, you are damn hardworking!!! You put me to shame. Even though your role was smaller than the rest, you still gave your 110% commitment and that is really admirable. You are also insanely good at Bishi Bashi and BISHI BASHI IS HARD. All the best for your upcoming graphic novel!!!

To Ben(gay),
You are an excellent SM and you provide deep, penetrating relief to the production because of the sheer dedication to your job. Thank you for bearing the logistical weight of Long Weekend. Thank you for being the understudy to all of our roles- filling in and taking notes when someone is missing from rehearsal. our role is so tough and yet you do it so well! You're crazy.  Also, the image of you prancing around in a strap-on has been seared to my brain. Also, I'm sorry (not sorry) I flashed you my tit. 

To Pearl,
Thanks Pearl for being our cool ASM and making sure that we don't screw up our props preset and being the Robin to Ben's Batman. I still can't fathom how you can make sweeping look so effortlessly chic (lol) but truly grateful that you helped the production even though you had your trampoline competition! plz take theatre mods with me next sem

To Jia Hui and Augustina
Thank you for making these costumes, and altering it over and over again! I know that you guys had to come down so many times and even got completely drenched on one of your visits to take our measurements. I'm really sorry that I keep ripping my pants!!! Thank you for the extra pants on standby! My friend said that the costumes were really lovely in catching the light.

To TK and Sarah,
Thanks for the long nights you had to make our set and props! What is Long Weekend without the gigantic closet and a life-sized dick helmet? The amount of detail and effort given to the sets and props is mind-blowing. I secretly wanted to keep the penguin outfit cause it was just so well-made. Thank you for spicing up our play! I would never been able to do what you guys have done for this production. 

Yep, that's the end of my sappiness! I definitely want to be able to work with all of you guys in the future. All y'all are so multi-talented (singing??? dancing???), I hope we cross paths on stage again. PLZ REMEMBER ME WHEN Y'ALL ARE FAMOUS.

Once again, from the Long Weekend cast and crew, thank you for all those who took the time to come down and support us! You know who you are! xoxo

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