Thursday, July 22, 2010

RHD skit

The latest batch of Drama Club kids have taken the reins. Their first official performance was a short skit for Racial Harmony Day. They had only one week to script, rehearse and polish, but they were all gung-ho go-for-it. We seldom see this kind of enthusiasm, so we let them run with it.

First rehearsal, we had a basic outline. The characters were caricatures of our national ethnic stereotypes, the plot was thin, the resolution fuzzy at best. Definitely still needed a lot of work before it could be ready for show.

During rehearsal, my biggest worry was that the stereotypes would stand out stronger than the theme we had been commissioned to convey. True enough (as I hear from the grapevine), the kids played it for laughs, going over-the-top with their characters -- Chinese boy in particular -- resulting in a greatly mixed reaction from the audience. The kids in the audience seemed somewhat tickled, but the staff were aghast by the colour of the language used onstage, the resolution was still vague and inconclusive.

Great learning opportunity for our little aspiring artists: improv is fantastic for rehearsals because it always adds new dimensions to the development of a scene, character or plot; but there is no place for ad libbing during the performance of a commissioned piece.

Like it or not, the sponsor does not care for artistic licence or pointless, raucous comedy. The sponsor wants a specific message to get through to the audience, that's all. At least, don't do anything to embarrass the sponsor by association. Fail to deliver and face the curtailment of funding or even a lawsuit. We're lucky such consequences are not looking for us as a result of this performance.

Again, from what I hear, the audience did learn something from our performance: Chinese boy's ad libbed expletive-laden phraseology. Which wasn't exceptionally vulgar, but still, not the kind of language to use in polite company.

Sigh. They've only just started ,and already so much damage we need to get under control.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wake of a stranger

Attended the wake of a stranger. We didn't know her personally, but she was a fellow volunteer at Gift of Love who passed away suddenly over the last couple of days. From what we've been hearing, Mdm W Wong was there twice to three times a week cooking for the residents, shuttling the sisters around on their errands and driving the ambulance as the need arose. The hole she has left behind is a big one to fill.

But as the Father who led this morning's service did not present a eulogy, neither will I. Instead, like him, I will present my own homily. The circumstances surrounding Mdm W's passing were as such: she'd been complaining of severe pains in her stomach for some time, though she put off seeking medical advice. When the pain finally became unbearable, it was too late. As I understand the story, appendicitis killed her. Her passing was all the more tragic as it might have been avoided with a simple medical procedure, had she sought attention early enough.

Mdm W really did give her all to follow the command of "love your neighbour...", and if more of us did likewise, that could help us solve  a lot of our human social problems. But we also need to remember the follow up to this Mosaic injunction, "... as yourself" (Lev 19:18). Yes, it's good to place other's needs before our own, but if we aren't feeling well, we should love ourselves too, and break off helping others at least long enough to find out what's wrong first, fix the problem, then go back and continue helping others.

We people need to be needed. Being able to lend a hand, or to be depended upon for one thing or another is an uplifting experience, one we wish to continue experiencing. Whether it's bringing food to old folks or consulting worried students after class, it feels good to be able to fill that need and contribute to another person's well-being. But as volunteers and teachers, let's also be mindful of our physical and psychological health, and step back for a while as and when we are tired or sick. There will always be someone else that can fill in for us, so the choice is ours: do we want our position filled temporarily, or permanently?