Friday, May 23, 2008

I Will Survive

Written by Lawrence, the Stage Manager of the comedy drama

I haven't been to Actors Studio since more than a year ago. Even that was my only second theater show visit. I remember that show was something about an Ah Beng from Singapore, who claimed to have a small role in Miss Saigon, the West End classic musical, going broadway.

So, knowing my topophobia(stage fright), it would be prudent if I get myself accosted by the environment of the 'dark room' in Actors Studio before my show I Will Survive begins the week later. Moreover, the fact that I have just started my new elevated position (ahem) in a company which located in Damansara Heights, a stone throw away from Bangsar Shopping Centre. "Hey" I told myself "I could make this my regular entertainment joint from now on". And so it goes, I went and watched Kam.... In Your Face, a Joanne Kam's production, a comedienne with a huge following since her Boom Boom days more than 10 years ago. Upon making my way into the theater, I overheard audiences were mostly claim to know her like they were Kamching Kamching, talking over the phone or talking to each other by calling Miss Kam by her first name "I'm watching Joanne's show, yalah, she's my girl" etc.

Packed to the full, only occasional empty corner seats Joanne wow me with her flair at stand-up comedy. Had us in stitches. The latter sketches are left wanting though, but we did not complain too much, for after the long work stress, this is a welcome release of adrenaline laugh rush. I left the show with a new sense of attachment with the theater and paradoxical mix of fear of the impending comparison a week later.

Back-track about three months before, the director Log, being a humble guy as he is, said this production is a collective idea, where everybody sat down together one dinner in KGPA for the first time accompanied by nasi goreng and bihun goreng, courtesy of the producer, Sew Chen brainstorming an idea for a production which we hope could add funds into our diminishing association coffers.

Everything went very gradual and full of cheers, occasionally flip flopped with gossips of the banking industry and also of national politics,(we were in the midst of the tsunami-cal general election at that time), the idea keeps trickling in like what would generally happened if you put seasoned corporate employees together.

After two nights of such, the rough idea is germinated. It will have to be about the women-empowering dynamics. One hit wonder from Gloria Gaynor was brought up by one of the crew, and it stuck. The course of the movie is determined, the crux of the matter is carved, the road is paved, and DTM Loghan is on course for the next step; script writing. I Will Survive is born.

The script writing comes in fast and quick. After only the 3rd or 4th meeting(I can't quite recall, but hey it's still quick by my standard:)) DTM Loghan has more than half of the final script on most of our hands. It's gonna be a banking politico-rags-to-riches conundrum, capitalizing on the heat of the banking and national gossips. Only that the banking grapevine is limited to the privileged bankers of few whereas the national reached out to the most excesses of the information technology world.

Then, the rehearsal began, location were either at Sally's (the main actress) office or at DTM Celine's Training Centre. It was with much cheer and laughter DTM Loghan left us ample room to improvise the lines, to make the script funnier than it was to begin with.

I for a non-banker took a couple of sessions to understand much of the story, I was initially lost, but thank goodness I had a small part to play, not to mention to play a simpleton, and in the words of a famous actors I forgot who, "in order to inhabit your character, u have to be or at least try to be that person", I decidedly left most of the work to the rest. The world was easy, the world was insipidly quiet to my dejectedly egoistic mind. I was essentially IN my character to not question too much of the script.

Skip several weeks later to the eve the premier night. We had a trial run and tech run on that night. The ambient of that night was obviously quiet with impending stage-fright and awkward pauses due to the possibility of real-stage-amnesia. But we trudged on, like a forcados taking the bull by the horn in the spanish bullfighting game, we push it through even though it was the worst decision we thought we ever made in our life, well at least what we thought at that very second.

Friday 6.00pm, the next day, day of the premier, I arrived at The Actors' Studio with fibrillation in my heart. I thought I could retch like a pregnant lady, but Sally the main cast was apparently encountering something worse. She had diarrhea. It was only just a few minutes before her part begins, that she did the right decision, to purge out the whatever toxin aka fear that is surrounding her. After that she was in a row, mastering her character like glove on palm!

The show started with Kalyani getting much laughter among the audience. We were impressed, I was peaking like a peacock under the black drape, checking out the audience responses throughout the night. Only later I realize I was noticed by my friends and that it was distracting especially with my white office-boy-looking shirt, people could be wondering why this boy kept distracting their concentration with my amateurish backstage voyeur. The next two shows I left the drape as dark as it could be.

Then, as Kalyani walks out of the stage, the devil enters the show, while the stage light turns blood red, eliciting intrigue among the crowd; it's a twist which is apparent. But never would they realize that the twist will be twisted at the end of the show.

Next Mei Han and Simon, talks like real mama-san and uncle-with-horny-agenda moments, respectively. People laughs at Mee Han lines. Surely one of the best lines of the show. Simon was in his moments as well. Then Sally with his Hot-pants and fish-net socks under it came out with a cigarette by her fingers. Laughter ensured. Her 80's hooker-gone-hot style with her confidence makes her recognizable, and believable. Audience empathize with her, by her ambitions, her determination and her opportunistic-al killer instinct even before the part where she reveals all to the psychiatrist later of the show. It ended predictably funny, audience laughed and gave their approval applause just before the entrance of the devil.

Then Gwen, Ismail and DTM Loghan went in for a conversation about human resources. The path is opened and that the banking-politics-gone-stage-show has begun.

Mun Yuen aka Jay Chow entered with Simon with his recognizable glare of a vice president desperately needed of a promotion had the best moment for the show. The audience was left in stitches as Mun Yuen spilled out her cards of gossip-fire for Simon to feast on. Back stage after watching her so many times before, I still laugh at those lines coming out from Mun Yuen, with her gifted timing.

Then Teck Lee, another victim of office politics, well taken care of by Simon's diabolical scheme, unaware by the Union leader. As Teck Lee walks out of the stage, Simon alone on stage sang the Union anthem " We Shall Not Be Moved", with sufficient dose of sarcastic-caustic tinge.

Loretta who came out before with a small snippet of Reach by Gloria Estefan during Simon-and-Sally-in-her-hotpants part, went into her seat as the treasury Senior Vice President, to be flame-thrown as well by Simon. Simon's work has really gone off to a great start and he was on a row, when Kalyani came later also submit into defensive mode, trying desperately to "save her ass".

Then Sally, having gone through the thick and thin of rank and file to reach the Senior Vice President position, has a brief de javu sparing with her former lover, Lawrence, the office boy. It was at that moment that she decidedly rejected and drew the line from Lawrence for she had not seen him as her ally but her highly risky and losing burden.

The show shift to the psychiatrist chair, Sally obviously disturbed by the onslaught of impending office war, was confining her deepest and darkest secret to the psychiatrist, Mr Kunjiraman(the j is silent) who is Log's second of three character. Predictably, DTM Loghan's line drew so much laughter that being the longest part of the show, audience did not find it boring at all.

The show reached the climatic chorus when, the devil,Elizabeth had her field day insulting the lady Senior Vice Presidents, Sally, Loretta and Kalyani, while they were chilling out at a bar, scheming like the way ladies do to bring down the scrooge, Simon. Like Loretta who said "hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn" it teaches us well to not mess with ladies in the banking world. At the end of the part, a scheme was planted, Simon will receive his karma and Dr Chua's Youtube will be a "pale comparison" of his successor.

Then Simon was sent to Zimbabwe, Sally got the post. Everybody congratulated her, including the about-to-be-sacked office boy Lawrence, looking more rags than "tin kosong" cute-ish.

Alas, every good things must have an end. The final show on Sunday ended at 4.25pm, everybody looked so dejectedly relieved, like a heavy sack of potatoes was taken away from their frail and exhausted body.

Average audience ratio from the three shows were about 55%, a far cry from the jam-packed night I saw during my night with Kam... In Your Face. But, in a show which did not spend too much on marketing and certainly did not get much paper publicity like Kam did, (that Kam show was featured 2-full pages in The Star, Joanne Kam was interviewed by The Edge, plus they printed a plush souvenir book with each stars own a page, not to mention the line-up of seasoned stage acts with pre-existing huge followings) we certainly did very well for a bunch of amateurs.

By the way from my survey, everybody said they just can't wait for the next show. I know I can't. :)

Written by Lawrence

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Damn, din think it would be that long....

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