41 | What They Made Me See.

So for those of you who look at my side bars, you’ll know that there’s this segment “Been There, Done That” in which I record the plays that I’ve watched. Well, in a matter of weeks, that list is going to explode. Why? Because for the next twelve weeks, I’ll be watching at least 1 play every week. How insane is that? I’m happy even if I have to eat grass for the rest of the year to afford it.

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First off, this week:

I trust that you guys have been on the streets enough to see this poster on taxis, hanging off lampposts, etc. Othello is a Shakespearean tragedy that’s performed this year as part of Shakespeare in the Park. For those who don’t know, Shakespeare in the Park is performed at Fort Canning every year, put up by Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) where I do my The Young Co. playwright’s programme.

Met Liansheng right after school that day and headed down to Fort Canning with bags of food – fruits, chips, DongDaeMun chicken, and my favourite, Carl’s Jr! I can never resist Carl’s Jr’s chicken tenders with honey mustard. When we got there, we found a good spot and set up camp, but shortly after Fangda arrived, it began to rain! We thought he was kidding when he said he was chased by a storm cloud. So it poured, but Gaurav, the director of SRT, came onstage and told us the same thing he did last year at Twelfth Night when it rained – that he believed in positive thinking. I remember chanting something to the weather angels and having both Fangda and Liansheng simultaneously roll their eyes at me!

So anyway, it poured for a while, then it stopped, and we were all glad because the set was so immaculate, it would have been quite the downer if the show was cancelled. Othello is basically the tale of a man called Othello (duh) the Moor of Venice, showing how he is manipulated by his subordinate Iago into killing his lieutanant Cassio and his beloved wife Desdemona. Recurrent themes include racism, love, betrayal and jealousy, so it’s still rather widely performed. Anyway, Othello had a modern twist to it just as Twelfth Night did last year. Because the story is mainly military in nature, the whole stage was set up like an army bunker. It was truly impressive. Take a look –

As usual, the stage setup is crazy high-budget! I have no idea how SRT manages to do this year after year after year with all the fancy props and stuff. The actors this time included Daniel Francis as Othello, Wendy Kweh as Desdemona, Daniel Jenkins, one of my most respected theatre practitioners, as Iago and Shane Mardjuki as Roderigo. I’m only putting names I’m familiar with here, because I saw Daniel Jenkins and Shane Mardjuki in Twelfth Night last year and the first two are the leads. I feel that in some way Othello is really more about Iago – the deception, the ultimate betrayal, the malice. People struggle to understand why such a thing could happen, how Othello could just take the word of Iago at face value and order the death of his trusted lieutanant and kill his beloved wife. That requires a bit of study into the original text, but I feel that Shane Mardjuki exceptionally personified Roderigo very well. Daniel Jenkins suited Malvolio in Twelfth Night better, but he did a good job of  making Iago the cold-hearted malicious antagonist too.

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Secondly, Rabbit Hole:

This wasn’t a play that I had intended to watch early. In fact, I was only convinced because my playwrights at TYC were raving about it. We rarely ever come to a consensus on how good a play is so when we do, it’s certainly something worth a watch. Just this morning, I heard Luke mention that Rabbit Hole gained a 4.5 star rating on The Flying Inkpot, which is notoriously difficult to attain. With expectations, I went for the play today, and true to form, it didn’t disappoint. Basically, the show is about the family of a boy who was run over by a car, and how they try to deal with grief and navigate their way around each other at the same time.

I really rather liked the cast. Actors for this show included Adrian Pang, Janice Koh, Seong Hui Xuan, Lok Meng Chue and Eden Ang. The cast was very well-suited to the play and perhaps because of this, they all managed to flesh out the characters really well. Hui Xuan for example, I thought she was outstanding. She gave Izzy more stake in the play than she would have if someone with a softer personality had taken on the role. She was just right – tough, direct, vulnerable and witty.

One thing I loved about this play was the way David Lindsay-Abaire wove between comedy and tragedy seamlessly. As a new playwright I must say that this is really quite a difficult threshold to cross. Simply because tragic writers are not naturally funny and comedic writers are not naturally.. depressed? So for him to tread between both worlds, sometimes even during an argument, is something that I really can appreciate (now that I’m writing, at least). One thing’s for sure though – this play had a very heavy subject matter and is not something that I’d be able to churn out at this point in time. As Yogi pointed out: this sort of play which appeals to pathos, our emotions, are hard to mess up, but at the same time, it’s hard to keep them outstanding because let’s face it, conventional tragedies are everywhere. What sets yours apart? For Rabbit Hole, I feel that it’s the skill of weaving in between humour and distraught depression.

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Top left: Adrian’s autograph on my ticket. Top right: Rabbit Hole programme. Bottom: Yogi, Adrian and my-hair-is-in-a-ponytail.

In conclusion, if you haven’t watched Rabbit Hole yet, you have to watch it.

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Short summary of school:

I haven’t been coping that well because it’s been a tough week – backlogged work, drama, and outside commitments. But on a bright note, I got into SP Tchoukball, and I’m delighted because it’s something I’ve thought and rethought but in the end, it was love at first play. It’s been very long since I took up a proper sport so hopefully this will be a good last run for my sporting career before I quit. Hopefully within these 3 years my knee doesn’t go kaput.

The drama both in and out of school have been getting me down but don’t worry, I don’t get sad for long. I have too much to look forward to. And one thing I’ve realized – I really do have wonderful friends. From my closest friends who’re there for me at any time of the day, to Alpacas, who make me laugh unfailingly, to SRT TYC playwrights, who give me intellectual food and something to muse about every week, to 02, and they make every day feel like sunshine. Special shoutout to Taopang, Syah and Iffy who had to tolerate me the entire week. 🙂 You guys are amazing!

Among the things I feel 2013 is teaching me, I guess one very important factor would be maybe the importance of family. Pangdemonium’s season this year has family as a central theme too, and I’m not about to dismiss it as sheer coincidence. One of my new year resolutions was to make family my first priority and that’s coming true. I’m glad. 🙂

Now all I have to do is keep going at it. No matter how tired or stressed I am, I’ll handle myself well and not crumble. Exams in 2 weeks!

May this 1.3k word post will make up for lack of updates till Week 7 ends. 🙂

Fighting, y’all!

You’re precious to me.

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