Runs on food and music, will sing for chips and pasta.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Letter one hundred and fourteen - The days go on

Dearest J,

Sometimes we cry to make ourselves feel better.

I think it's like the same science as we shiver when we are cold, our bodies move in order to create heat.

The flat got broken into on Saturday night...on Sunday, just before 2am.  The burglar must have came through the open window at the kitchen sink...luckily for me that he had no intention of meeting me - he escaped through the window too after I came into the flat.  I locked myself in the study and made phone calls, after seeing the mess in it, that was when I knew I wasn't alone in the flat - and it wasn't the cat or Chelsia.

Made those phone calls with trembling hands, but calm enough that I could still make sense to the security and to Fai upstairs.

All he managed to far as I know now, was my old iPhone and he screwed up my Rowenta fan next to the desk, the one we bought together at the Tropicana City mall.  I came back just in time to stop him venturing beyond those compartments.

Hours later in the shower my mind wandered off to you, and how you would want to be here for me if you were still around.  I know now that I have grown more independent without you, but am not sure, you were always very proud of my independent ways back then...

But tonight when I went to shower in the wee hours again, a strong wind slammed a window shut somewhere in the flat and put me in an unhealthy sense of alert.  Then I guiltily wondered what it would be like if I had a new lover here now living with me and seconds later I chided myself for having succumbed to such an easy route to simple excuse for misery.

On days like this, dwelling on miserable thoughts for a few minutes feel like one of those sinful escapism...except instead of putting on unnecessary weight, you release your mind into a windmill of miserable thoughts and self-pity till the tears start to taste like candies - laden with processed sugar.

And for that `spa experience', the perfect backdrop would be a sound track of perfectly written love songs, people like Katie Melua or Barbra Streisand do very well.

The cat is staring at me now as I write to you.  In fact she was staring at my reflection in the huge mirror behind my desk.  She is my silent companion, she is silent 100% of the time except for bell she wears.  She is a very hyper, yet silent presence.  Her gaze is mostly intense, with lots of intention that I don't always interpret correctly.

My village people gave me the latest iPhone for birthday, it's a really fancy phone but it's such a practical gift.  It was a very good day, I spent it at leisure and at work.  There are a few birthdays lined up these few weeks for people I like, am learning to enjoy making a fuss over birthdays of people I really like.

Am really late for bed, the strong wind has stopped.  Am going to sleep in the room with the stick Peter gave me yesterday, for self defense.  I know I will be ok.  Am looking into window grille soon...

Miss you lots, too much.



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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

of Oz, theatre, money, life

My little piece of heaven last night:

Jellybeanz is snoring softly in her sleep.  My face is inches away from her right foot, covered in cute baby jumpsuit.  The Wicked Witch is deep in her Maghrib prayer before the evening rehearsal.  The ceiling fan spins noiselessly above us.  Am so grateful for this short window of momentary solace, before we all wake up from this surreality and step back into the fantasy world of Oz. 

It's the 5th week of rehearsal for Wizard of Oz, we are 5 days into bumping into theatre.  We have sailed through the too-good-to-be-true smooth blocking rehearsals - the entire cast family of Oz are committed to make the story telling great, so the boss of Oz, Nell worked swiftly through the two-act musical, twenty-seven scenes all in all.  

Came the crucial stage of marrying the actors to live music.  The hair-pulling started, luckily, only for a few days, though it was a rather `long' few days.  The power that be jumped straight into action and waved her magic wand to right all wrongs.  Tonight am going in for another round of sitzprobe rehearsal with hopefully, the full band for Oz.

The journey has been surprisingly pleasant and incredibly fun.  I didn't grow up with the story of Wizard Of Oz, barely know any characters from the story.  The decision to dive into Oz was a decision to work with close friends and comrades and to enjoy a slice of theatre in the first quarter of the year.  

My love affair with the theatre is long and steady, not really an explosive kind but it's a genuine kind.  I don't keep a diary of this love affair but now I know I should have.

1st job: front of house & costume hand for Five Letters From An Eastern Empire (Actors Studio black box) for Rep 21 Theatre.  A job I landed and owed to the director of Oz - Nell, who recommended me to the production.

Somewhere after that I was again a coffee-making front of house staff at Actors Studio Theatre in Dataran, for an Australian staging of a small musical titled Java Jive.  And soon I was the regular face in various theatre productions' front of house, pushing program books & merchandizes, ushering audience, tearing tickets, selling drinks and snacks during intervals.  I would catch taxis and trains to get home after work, and be happy that I was part of this cool and sexy industry of performing arts.

Between then and now, is a long and eventful journey of over ten years.  I had started auditioning, I started singing classes, and I even started dancing class, I even attended acting workshops, I had even played principle roles, I hd been in big ensembles, I had been in tiny ensembles, I had even been a media assistant, I had been slighted, I had been put on the pedestal, I had shed much tears and laughed too much...

But putting down in numbers, over ten years is a long time, but I have been in only a small handful number of productions as an actor.   Though it feels like I have been around forever, especially these days as I departed from being a 20-something years ago.  I figured out why it feels like I have been in the scene for a long time, even though I have only been on stage for not over 15 productions in the last decade.  It is because I have sincerely embraced more than just being in the spotlight - (though increasingly so I find myself easing into being in the spotlight, thanks to my career move in the last 6 years) I have been an active audience member of the local performing arts for as long as I have lived in the city.  From taking a crowded Metro bus, to KTM commuter to town to catch a play, to now zig-zagging in my own vehicle to any theatre in town.  From watching a Malay straight play, to an Indian dance performance, to a breathtaking performance of Buto, to Singaporean play, to a badly staged local musical, to a stand-up party, a play with songs, to a brilliant bilingual local play, etc...I am never far from performing arts, be it watching from my seat or prancing in my heels on stage.  

In between all those scene and light changes on stage, life goes on outside.  The number of bills to pay increased steadily as I grew to be more sophisticated as a citizen of the society.  I started a real savings account, I dropped out of the 9-5 working race, I became my own boss, I became greedy for experience, I became less afraid of having my own show.  I want to live more.  I got bitten by the travelling bug recently, I want to spend my hard earned money on acquiring new sights and sounds, foreign sights, and foreign smells..

As the performing arts sector continues to struggle to break even in its arty ventures, the workers of art will need to continue finding other means to subsidize their lifelong thirst to create art.  Some theatre companies may have it better than their counterparts in securing funds for their projects, but none will be able to pay you quite handsome enough to compensate your monthly expenses and pay for your vacations too.

I recently made an unusual decision to sit out of an audition, in favour of opportunities to get more higher-pay gigs in the commercial circuits - so that I could save up more cash for a bigger vacation later in the year.

The repercussion of this new decision is kicking in as I watched others coming out of the audition room, all in huff and puff, excited about what's ahead of them in the rehearsal rooms.  My heart cries out to the internal yearning for my `theatre addiction'.

So this must be yet another inevitable milestone in soul-searching for me.  I think to myself, there must be still so much that I don't know about myself - what do I really want, do I want too much?

As I sit here waiting for the my dose of Difflam to work on my very inflamed throat - I am projecting my vision and thoughts into months from now, not in costumes with my friends in theatre for the musical that I have chosen to not audition for - I would be in rehearsal with my own musicians for a much smaller gig?  And there would only be one spotlight on stage, just for me.  As I open and close my mouth, singing lyrics from my songbook - would I be missing the crazy rush in the theatre side wings where quick costume changes take place?  

I don't know, haha, really.  Maybe I am giving this too much air time the last one week.  I need to get through this sore throat so that I can sail through all my high notes when Oz open next Saturday.

Maybe the meaning of it all lies in the endless dilemma of theatre versus money.  That one can truly be happy only in the constant quest for the impossible balance of turning down highly-paid gigs to embrace the divinely addictive opium called theatre. 

Right?  I mean, how can one be happy with just being easy?  There must be choas, lots of it before you can truly appreciate the kind of bliss I experienced last night, lying inches away from Jellybeanz' cute foot, watching her snore while the Wicked Witch prays in her white gown.

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