Monday, July 14, 2008

Whoa, like, what just happened here

Yeah, I know… it’s been a while, huh?

It’s been a crazy year so far. Career, family, personal life – I won’t say it’s looking grim just yet, but I’m just a lot more *anxious* about everything, how my future’s going to pan out.

What has happened...

Malaysiantalents.com

From what you guys last heard, the online mockumentary show malaysiantalents.com was received with good reviews from people who ‘got’ the humor, and not-so-good-reviews from people who… well, didn’t. But I’m really, really, proud of that show. I’m glad that Douglas roped me in for it, created everyone’s characters with the actors already in mind, and just let the sparks fly. Everyone that was involved in that show had such a manic-fun time with it, and I have a feeling it shows. It’s a series that has dared to broaden the spectrum of Malaysian humor, and I hope that such a feat will perhaps beg for a second season. We’ll just have to see.

Pix courtesy of Nick Dorian


Douglas Lim and his tard of a PA


Filming the last episode with special guest Joanna Bessey


Water, water, everywhere

An old college mate of mine Adrian Loh had managed to track me down with a personal interest to feature me in his short film – an offbeat teenage love story between a jock, and a girl who has an abnormal aversion to water. His first intentions to film it was to submit it to a local short film competition. However, we were to cut it really close to the deadline so after careful thinking, he had decided to miss the competition, take his time with making the film, and make sure that the end product would be something really spectacular.

And true enough, it is in the midst of becoming something quite like that. Adrian and his fellow directing extraordinaire Manesh had put together a kickass filmmaking crew with a couple of the biggest names in the business, and all done on a voluntary basis for the sake of ‘making something beautiful’. My mate Alfred Loh was cast as my love interest, and for all the directors out there who are unaware of the chemistry that Alfred and I share, just be forewarned that should anyone plan to cast us in the same production, a lot of unproductive time should be anticipated. From the 3-week rehearsal prior to the shoot right up until the cameras rolled, Alfred and I were goofing off like mad, the kings of comedy in our special little world of two. But when crunch time did happen, the results were super rad. Adrian and Manesh are indeed being meticulous with the post-production: it’s been about three months since the shoot wrapped, and we re-recorded our voices for some of the scenes just a couple of weeks ago. But from what I had seen so far through the dubbing sessions, I have a feeling that such patience will be very well rewarded. If it comes out the way everyone hopes it will, I can dare say that it’s one of my proudest achievements as an actor. Adrian and Manesh managed to stretch the limits of my capacity to get into a character with such a bizarre affliction, and I’ve been so honored to work with such great storytellers. I do hope the show will get some form of recognition when the guys start distributing it around the international film festival circuit. Oh, and did I not mention the name of the film yet? ‘Baby The Rain Will Fall’. Serious shite, man.

Here are some pics from photographer Fabian Leong.


Alfred and I going through a scene with Manesh


Either my makeup for this scene was so damn good, or I'm just that good.


All this rain came from a fire truck! Freezing to the bone.


Oh, the pain of walking away.


Alfred, Manesh, Adrian, Me


Just Cruisin'

Paula Vogel’s How I Learned To Drive was a theatre production that has made me grow as a thespian as well. It was presented by youth theatre group The Oral Stage, and after a 2-month rehearsal process it was staged at the Actors Studio in June for a strictly limited run. People find it hard to believe that I did it on a pro bono basis, but it was an opportunity I could not afford to miss – the characters were so REAL, and the script was so witty, poignant, provocative, all in all unbelievably good. Compounded with the current trend in Malaysia being musicals, the chance at reciting dialogue without the fear of being interrupted by a song and dance routine seemed impossible to turn down. The fact that everyone was in it, once again, for the love of doing it, AND for the final product to be of top-notch professional material, such attitudes to the arts scene are few and far between. With no financial backing whatsoever, The Oral Stage is doing something truly remarkable as one of the only active youth theatre groups around. As for the actual run, I was pleased with it. It doesn’t occur to many that this was actually my first-ever performance as a theatre actor - one with a considerable amount of weight, at least. The play focused on the modern tale of a girl whose innocence was robbed from her by her uncle, how such circumstances play out in her growth as a woman, and how it also affects the people around her. I played a multitude of roles, the chunkier ones being the Mother and the wife of the uncle, Aunt Mary (I played sisters, basically). Both characters were extremely challenging! One was outwardly bold and opinionated, the other docile and empathetic, but both very fragile. And I had to stay on stage for the entirety of the play, so no chance to hurry backstage and get a character switch in order. No amount of rehearsals would be able to prepare you for the influx of anxiety that comes with opening night. We had our fair share of hiccups throughout, and there were times where I found it hard to fine-tune myself to the unpredictable nature of theatre. Maladjustments aside, I hope my contribution did justice to the story. The feedback from audiences was mixed, but generally constructive and encouraging. Surprisingly, from what I’ve been informed by my director, I was apparently a crowd favorite! I can’t be the judge of my own performance, but I’m glad that there are people out there who appreciate what I do, and what I love doing. It really keeps me going, and I’m grateful.

Pix courtesy of Nicholas Chin and Michael Yip


The cast (L-R): Doreen Loo, Tard, Amelia Chen, Johann Lim, Mark Beau de Silva


'A Mother's Guide to Social Drinking' monologue


Schoolgirls in 'A Walk Down Mammary Lane'


As the anguished Aunt Mary


Group bow... Only after seeing this picture did I realize why my right arm felt so awkward.


What’s gonna happen

Let's get physical

I’ve just started rehearsals for a physical theatre piece, once again presented by The Oral Stage. It’s called 'Match’ - a performance about love, sex and relationships, and loosely based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It will be staged in Singapore next month as part of Celebrate Drama 2008, a community-based festival organized by the Singapore Drama Educators Association. My director and fellow performer in this one, Kelvin Wong (cute-little-goth pixie-turned-cute-little-punk-pixie) approached me to take this on, believing that I’d have the physical competency to pull it off. But with the theme firmly in place, I have actually been extremely apprehensive about my participation, particularly with the trauma I've just gone through with my ex. When I started hearing the music tracks that Kelvin was considering, I started crying buckets, and panicked at the thought that I just wasn't ready for this. But after thinking it through thoroughly, I’ve decided to go ahead with it. Trying to push all my personal trials aside and presenting myself as a performer will be a challenge I feel is worth tackling.


The role as 'Speaking Extra'

I’ll be making a teeny tiny appearance in a Singaporean indie film called ‘The Funeral Party’, as ‘Employee No. 3’. Haha. I had originally auditioned for the role of a Chinese national who happens to be someone’s mistress, and I’m glad I didn’t get that (I don’t think I’m ready for a sex scene just yet!) It features a nice mix of actors from both sides of the Causeway, the main actor being the one and only Patrick Teoh. So yes, I shall be filming that in Penang in one day next month. Wishful thinking, but I hope to catch up with Patrick and meet some Singaporean stars when I’m over there.


Back to TV

I’ve been confirmed to star in a Malaysian teenage drama TV series that will start shooting in the next couple of months, and will premiere on 8TV around this time next year. The show originally had a main cast of 5 males, with 2 supporting females. I tried out for both girls, and after watching my audition playback tape, the writer/director decided to CREATE A WHOLE NEW CHARACTER FOR ME. I sure as heck didn’t see that coming and I’m lost for words about that! So I’ll be appearing in basically every other episode, from what I gather, to add a bit of kookiness to the show. I don’t know what more I’m actually allowed to say right now, so to be safe I’ll reveal more details as they come along.


Kiwi trippin'

I’ve written a short play that’s been selected to be part of a project in New Zealand, called Asian Tales™: Native Alienz. It’s organized by a non-profit organization called the Oryza Foundation For Asian Performing Arts. My submission is called ‘Citizen 3’, and is one of six 10-minute plays selected to be developed further and professionally staged in Auckland in February 2009.
The call for scripts was originally open to New Zealanders only, for the sake of fulfilling contact hours with the dramaturge during the development phase. But word got around online, and they ended up taking in a play from Malaysia (mine), and another from Hawaii. So the Hawaiian writer and I have been attending the workshops via Skype. Those happened over April and May, and those sessions were real eye-openers. Call me a country bumpkin but that was the first time I had ever participated in a live online video conference, and it was such a rush! To talk to people on the other side of the world as they hold MY script in THEIR hands, to watch foreign actors say lines I wrote, act out scenes I created, and waiting for ME to offer feedback… that was like, totally whoa. . Despite ‘Citizen 3’ only being 10 minutes long, through the workshops I’ve felt how much I’ve grown together with my play, and as a writer. My whole involvement in this project has come really unexpectedly, considering the fact that this is only my second attempt at playwriting. For people to see the potential in it, and to grant me this opportunity… well, for lack of a better word, I’m freakin’ stoked. I’ve been invited to catch the preview performances and the full staging. With my fingers crossed, I’d be able to find sponsors to aid me financially in my quest to travel to Auckland to grace such occasions in my physical form. And making sure that I get back to Malaysia, of course! A little bit of positivity never hurt anybody. If you’re interested in finding out more about Asian Tales™: Native Alienz, you can check out Oryza’s website (It strikes me at how they put my ethnicity simply as ‘Chinese’… I feel quite undeserving of it, an opinion that merely exemplifies the inspiration for my piece!)

Shucks, I don’t really feel as busy as it looks! I guess when you’ve got your mind on something all the time, you just don’t realize such things, and for half a year to just slip right past your nose like that, it’s darn scary.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading, I’ll catch up with you guys soon.

3 Comments:

Blogger Siedne said...

wow, ur really blossoming as an artsy-fartsy person. awesome! great to know you've got so many things lined up your way *hugs*

must meet up for crazy mamak sometime, when ur not busy being famous :p

2:50 AM  
Blogger albert said...

I love your speaking/singing roles! Have more! Oh now I get it, you're a few women. No wonder I was like wait aren't you the mother no wait you're the aunt no wait whaaat you're Davina!

3:00 AM  
Blogger disco-very said...

denise,
me, artsy fartsy??? pffft. thanks for the support anyhoo and we'll catch up over drinks soon :)

albert,
... you are a tard and a half. :P

6:02 PM  

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