Saturday, May 23, 2009

Goodness graciousness!

Woke up at 0530. Quick rehearsal with script amendments at 0700 on campus. On-site rehearsal at 0845. Showtime at 0910. We were the opening act welcoming the GoH as he made his rounds through the five stations of the Circle Line. This is what he saw...

Please don't crowd the doors

Excuse me, the train is not for you to exungulate yourself in

Don't play on the train! Wait fall down, how?

Oh, this poor lady performing her "National Service". Won't someone give her a seat?

One polite applause later and we're ready to explore the rest of the Circle Line

Guess who had the tough job of following up our act?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tech and fixes

Got an early preview of the new Circle Line subway system that brings public transportation right to the campus doorstep. We have long awaited this development and have watched eagerly every day as the construction mess that we have had to drive through for a couple of years slowly evolved into the steel-and-glass structure that started taking shape only a few months ago.

Today, I rode the train to visit three of the five stations to sound and tech check for tomorrow's little performance. It's great to work with a professional tech team. Whatever I ask for, I get. Head mikes? Check. Handheld wireless mikes? Check. Channel for sound FX? Open and check! Tech is ready to go, no worries. T -15 hours and counting...

Our patron fed back on our script, and did we ever get a taste of corporate interests clashing with our artistic aspirations. In attempting to inject humour in a potentially dreary morality play, we scripted some sequences and lines of conflict that our patron interpreted as not good for its public image.

Basically what our patron would rather we say was that if passengers wanted a more confortable ride, they have the means within themselves to do something about it. That prompted a hasty rewrite at about 2100 hrs tonight, and a mass email to all cast to note and adapt to the changes in a hurry. Ah, the nature of commissioned work.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blooding the newbies, pt 2

After encountering a major hiccup that threatened to scuttle NYeDC's committment to the MRT project, the J1s are working quite enthusiastically on our little morality play again. Fortunately for us, it turned out to be only a scheduling difficulty that we could resolve and so our project lives on.

So good to see how the J1s are pitching in to get this performance going. Our dramaturgh has done some fine thinking on her script. From her rough concepts, the rest of the cast members were happily adding on their own bizarre interpretations as we workshopped the scenario today. Even my J2 directors, YuT and Nick have cast themselves in the project even though I said the J2s could take a rest this week.

And while this is going on, my laundry list of to-do items has expanded rather than shrunk. I am so looking forward to the June hols during which I hope to recover a smidgen of the sanity I am prepared to lose over the next week and a half.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blooding the newbies

Running hot from Drama Night, NYeDC's next project is to put up a skit for the long-awaited opening of the Circle Line that will bring Mass Rapid transportation right to our doorstep.

Predictably, our patrons want us to present a moralistic tableaux enshrining the proper etiquette of commuter behaviour in trains and stations. No problem. We wanted to involve ourselves in community theatre and here we are -- under the media spotlight, no less.

The opening ceremony is being organized by our local broadcasting body, and somehow it's been decided that our item be among those performing in front of the VIPs. Yipes! As of today I have a rough concept for a script and no confirmed cast, but I have faith in my troops. Tina's offered to help out too, so we'll see how our first rehearsal will go tomorrow.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hello, you're kinda' cute!

Derrick the Dealer tells me M2 is likely to be exported, but he doesn't know yet where to. Meanwhile, I've finally taken possession of new M2, and here he(?) is! We will probably be adjusting to each other for some time as we work out how our different contours are supposed to fit together. There's no second-skin feel to the cockpit yet.

New M2's dashboard is quite pretty at night, all lit up with a rather aggressive red display. As it is, it's still quite bright in the parking lot but the dash is already glowing like a cylon with orders to shoot on sight. Cool.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Car wash day

It was a sombre little ritual we carried out with M2 as we carefully washed him with our own hands in preparation for the next stage of his journey.

Legally, I have ceased being M2's owner for a little over a week now. He belongs to Derrick the Dealer who, despite having paid in full for him, has been kind enough to let me continue driving him for now 'cos I have been too busy to collect the new M2.

But the day to part has arrived already. The exchange will take place at sundown tomorrow, new for old.

I should feel excited, itching to try out my new ride. But all I feel is sadness at the thought of a good friend moving on. Who knows where the road will take him? India? Thailand? The Philippines?  Or might I still be able to bump into him (not literally, of course) on the busy streets of S'pore? But I do know he has quite a few years of adventure left in him.

Dammit. No wonder I don't have many friends. Partings are so flippin' difficult for me.

My Oscar speech

Hadn't expected that it would end in tears, but the emotional release from watching all their effort, dedication, and everything else they invested physically and psychologically into the production culminate in the audience's appreciative applause
set the waterworks flowing for Yu T and Xuan2. They were tears of joy at having accomplished what had seemed like an impossible challenge for them who had taken a huge leap of faith in directing their own show despite their lack of theatrical experience beforehand.

The other two directors were dealing with it in their own way. Lin stood by her friends as they wept, offering support as best she could -- and Nick went off on his own to shmooze with the playwright of the play he directed. 4 amazing kids who have grown so fast in such a short time. I truly salute them and their ability to organize and motivate a team of such diverse talent to give off their best for two evenings of theatrical magic.

I am still amazed by how so many people were willing to pitch in to make "Timepieces" a success. The actors starting from zero experience to delivering confident performances took much time, practice and not a few sharp words from Tina; the props makers quietly toiling away unseen, so creative and resourceful in building our set from recyclable materials on a budget that was so economical I couldn't believe it when they handed me their bills for reimbursement; wardrobe and make-up who might have overrun their budget a bit, but worth it for the visual treat they created of the actors on stage; the spot-on serious and efficient backstage crew which changed sets so quickly that between-the-scenes blackouts were bearable; and the tireless, multi-tasking publicity crew who took on the jobs of collateral designers, bill posters, sales and marketing, accounts, front-of-house, and banquet staff, all led by my indispensible partner-in-crime, Sha.

The AVA crew was so completely integral to our production I have to credit the show as a collaborative project between our two CCAs. Our campus TV news crew put our "thank you/credit roll" video together and will be editing our opening night video which will make a nice souvenir for all of us involved, as well as for the playwrights who let us use their scripts royalty-free. It isn't easy to get so much inter-CCA support for a project, but our kids pulled it off so seamlessly.

I had professional help from Tina who provided the training for the actors and directors and also lent her overall expertise in putting the kids to work as if we were operating like a professional theatre company. She also brought in Matt for a session of voice training at which we discovered some very hidden talents from among our less prominent kids, and Ian who oversaw all the technical details -- lights, sound -- shuttling back and forth between us and his job tech'ing for the Shakespeare gig at Ft Canning.

One more person I have to acknowledge is June. She sourced out my thank-you tokens to the cast and crew when she had gone on holiday in HK earlier this year. Having lugged them all home, on the nights I couldn't be around to keep her company (several of those in the past two weeks or so) she painstakingly wrapped and labelled each one for a more personal touch.

Honestly, everyone in this production was fabulous. Now, being fabulous isn't my personal forte, but as the appointed CEO of this little theatre company, I really only had one job: to LET the people around me BE fabulous. And everyone was, outstandingly so. Thank you all so very much!!!

Btw, the photo above has nothing to do with our production. "Timepieces" deserved my full attention so my cam stayed sheathed in the theatre. The photo is to congratulate Cara on her wedding day (the S'porean one) today. She threw a lunch for us at the Copthorne Kings and that was my table in the pix. My heartiest congrats to Cara and Dave!