Saturday, May 12, 2007

We're in the middle of the matinee show of Othello. My scene's over so I'm just hangin' around waiting for the interval so I can buy drinks and ice-cream.

Shakespeare's stuff is a challenge for a school to perform. The language is different from what we're used to, and it's worse for the audience if the actors don't pronounce their words properly. There's no doubt that our actors know their lines and their motivations, but the delivery of those lines requires a speech therapist to perfect. Or, perhaps more time to practice, which we don't have. I hear the audience would like subtitles, but perhaps it's also an opportunity to practice their listening skills too, eh?

It was fun performing to friends in the audience last night, but this afternoon and evening it'll be a more scrutinized show. Our audience will be mainly students who are taking Othello as exam text, and I hear a couple of actors who are involved in their own Shakespearean productions will be in the crowd tonight as well.

1 more show to go!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Last night we ran Othello straight through in full-dress rehearsal mode. The set designers did a great job with our tiny LT2 space, draping militant-looking banners strategically around the venue. With the atmosphere realized and everyone in costume, all cast and crew could see the whole thing in a complete package, and Madames Directeur, Tina et Mel, liked what they saw, despite their anxiety from a week ago.

It helped that we were performing to a 'live' audience as well, comprising fellow students from the JC1 lit bunch. There's something about performing to a crowd that raises the energy of our output. I think we're peaking at just about the right time.

While I say we had a great run, please don't come in with expectation that we are the RSC or something. It's that we've reached our level of expectation for our standard, with the potential of exceeding it somewhat in the next couple of days. That's quite something already, seeing how much work and commitment the kids have put in to get us this far.

Looking forward to opening night...
Inter-house lunchtime debates took place at the library. We decided on some copyright issue to let the Drags and Griffs argue over. There was a lot of passion on the Griff side as they argued their case, while the Drags were quicker with raising and responding to POIs.

We had the library transformed into a small arena. I thought at first that setting up so many seats would mean lots of empty seats, but we did manage to get most of the seats filled in after all.

Thanks to Linc and Wayne for being co-adjucators.

Debaters still have a long way to go in terms of clashing on the issues, they're right now just at the stage of coming up with enough material to cover 8 minutes' worth of speech. Still, I must applaud their courage to continue their training. They will get good, given time and exposure.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

It must be great to be as sociable as Amy is. She knows of excellent eating spots where she has friends working at, and because they're friends we know our service is in good hands. Amy introduced us to Ragazzi: Italian food, kopitiam prices. The ingredients come in fresh daily from Tekka Market, hand-picked by the chef himself.

My penne pascatore (mussels and prawns in tomato sauce) went down easily with teh peng (iced-tea), in just the right quantity -- not enough to bloat but enough to satisfy. The tomato soup was thick and creamy, almost the consistency of paste, and freshened up with chopped basil leaf. The mushroom soup looked really tempting too, but I resisted 'cos I wanted to keep something to look forward to next time I'm in the neighbourhood.

NBS shared a rather large tiramisu with HP and me. It was rich, though unusually watery where the cake pastry should be. Dunno if it was meant to be like that but it tasted just fine.

10 of us in 3 cars went for lunch, and then on to our seminar at which we heard from a couple of local bigwigs from ASEAN, yes our regional political, security and trading bloc. I notice that S'poreans tend to be, the bigger the title, the stronger the self-deprecating humour. Our 2 speakers were very candid as they expounded on the 40 years of the bloc's history, the necessity of the organization, and the realities of it's members' associations with each other.

In the evening, I rejoined the Drama Club to rehearse a full run before showtime this Friday/Saturday. Busy, busy...

Monday, May 07, 2007

So much controversy in today's ST forum pages, both print and online, about kids and education. There are concerns that kids don't speak good enough Mandarin, kids don't speak good enough English, and kids don't get to speak enough, period. The examinations are biased towards those who write well, so smart kids who can't write suffer because they are penalized for the one ability they haven't mastered. Kids are unhealthy because they spend too much time cooped up indoors doing an assembly line of homework, thus sacrificing the playtime in the sunshine that they need for a balanced, wholesome upbringing.

Who'd wanna be a kid in these times when everything has gone so wrong for everyone at schooling age? It's crazy! Sure, it seems like everyone blames the 'system' but kids are only hearing that in the end, it's them that's not good enough. They have nothing to say and no language ability to express themselves fully anyway. They are pale and pudgy, and though they are running non-stop like little cogs in a relentless machine they're still gonna lose out to the Chinese eventually. And conversely, in the words of good Brabantio, "Who'd be a father?"

Adults, I tell you what, if there's anything that's killing our kids, it's your endless worry and your inability to let go and let your kids grow up. All this hand-holding that you're doing, you may think it's for your kids' good, but you can't hand-hold them forever. The biggest liability your kids will have as they walk into the future is having to drag your corpse along with them by the hand. :(

Maybe if we can all stop our incessant teaching and preaching for a while, our kids might just find the space to poke their heads from under their shells and start learning for a change. So parents, teachers, adults, find the value in taking the advice you so love to repeat to your kids: shut up, please. And stop masterminding the future for them -- it's theirs to shape, not yours.
What's a well-dressed Duke wearing these days? Mel said my working black trousers were too casual, and that I would have to get a pair of "dress blacks" instead. Since my wedding suit was cut for a much smaller man, I had to go shopping. Picked up a pair from Centrepoint. Dress pants are much lighter and made of a thinner material than I am accustomed to. They flow a little better, and they do look more formal. Wonder what other occasion I can wear them on?

Then I had to get a pair of Doc Marten's to replace the formal shoes I keep under my office desk for special occasions. Like for example, last Friday's formal ceremony, immediately after which the right sole ripped off, hence requiring replacement.

So with pants and shoes, I can't wait to see what Mel picked up from the costume shop for the Duke's top. Actually, since my scene is supposed to be taking place late at night, perhaps the Duke should be wearing a nightgown and bedroom slippers, clutching a teddy-bear while discussing state affairs with his senators. That would make sense to me 'cos the Duke would need his beauty sleep ASAP. After all, the war begins tomorrow!