Thursday, December 21, 2006

Another Cai Luong Quiz Time!

Another Cai Luong quiz time! Take a guess: what do you think is the original story of this show?

A clue: People around my age should have read a passage of this great novel in their secondary school Chinese textbook.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Stroll In The Cemetery

As in my previous post, I had been to the MediaCorp Radio on Monday for a radio interview. After the interview was done, it was still a few hours before I started work. Having nothing to do in the mean time, I suddenly thought of going to Bukit Brown Cemetery, which is not too far from MadiaCorp. I do not have any relatives "staying" inside, nor do I have any fetish for the dead, but being a cultural freak, I think cemeteries are great cultural grounds too, especially those old ones which reflects greatly on our nation's history.

When I was much younger, I used to be very afraid of such burial grounds, especially when my father drove his car on the PIE passing by Adam Road flyover and Old Police Academy areas. That stretch of the expressway was actually part of Bukit Brown/ Kheam Hock cemetery in the past, but the land was cleared in order to build the PIE. Therefore, imagine how scary it was with tombstones "staring" at you on both sides of the expressway! Now that I've grown up, I no longer fear such places, although I still dread going to the cemetery during Qing Ming festival as Choa Chu Kang cemetery, with all the concrete and little trees and grass, is a place far too hot and humid for me to bear. Bukit Brown cemetery, however, being one of the oldest surviving cemeteries left, is very shady, and is a more serene and cool place to actually tour around.

The roads inside the cemetery are not well-built; in fact they looked more like small lanes, and if one car is parked along the side, there's no way other vehicles from any direction to pass through. But I guess back in those days when the cemetery was open for burial, not many people would drive cars, so nobody would have thought of building wide lanes. Anyway, the tombstones in this cemetery are unlike those in Choa Chu Kang cemetery (referring to those built after the late 70s), which were built in neat rows and columns in various patches of land. The tombstones here were sparsely scattered, and were much bigger, at least two times larger than those in Choa Chu Kang. Even though the conditions of these tombstones had degraded over time, probably due to neglect, some of them still looked rather grand. There was one which even had got stone benches built around the little courtyard in front of the tombstone! However, I wasn't able to take a picture of it as it was situated on a high slope.

Halfway through my journey, I came to a T-junction where I saw a small shrine by the side of the junction. Inside the shrine's altar was various statues of Goddess of Mercy. Judging from the condition of the incense urn on the altar as well as the surroundings of the shrine, I supposed there is a caretaker looking after this shrine. However, after looking around my vicinity, I did not see a single soul (living one). There was a car parked beside the road as well, and I wondered where the driver had gone to.

As I ventured deeper into the cemetery snapping pictures, the sky suddenly turned dark. I quickly stopped snapping pictures and hurriedly left the cemetery in my motorbike. It is not fun to get caught in a sudden rain in a cemetery!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Interview @ MediaCorp Radio

Yesterday, I went to the MediaCorp Radio for an interview. Not that I wanted to find a job in the radio industry, but I was there to be given an interview by News 938 on Chinese opera issues. Just last week, an agency which is working closely with the Northwest CDC on it’s Northwest Arts Festival had approached me and Art with regards to some interviews on some topics. I was scheduled for a radio interview on Chinese opera, while Art would be scheduled for a magazine interview on promoting Chinese opera to children.

The interview was said to start at 10.30am, but nevertheless I had to be at MediaCorp by 10am so that I could run through the questions which might be asked during the interview. I wasn’t the only one to be interviewed, as another representative from a local Cantonese opera troupe would be in the recording studio as well.

This wasn’t the first time I got interviewed, but previous interviews were pre-recorded, so I was more nervous this time round. Also, as News 938 is an English station with perhaps non-Chinese DJs, I wasn’t sure if I would be asked some funny questions which I might not have the answers to. Luckily, the atmosphere was rather relaxed in the recording studio, all thanks to the 2 DJs in the studio, Mahesha Thenabadu and Stanley Leong. However, I fumbled in my speech at various times, which I felt like banging my head against the wall. Perhaps I needed to go to the loo, and hence I wasn’t able to react well! But anyway, the interview ended in less than half an hour, which was a bit too short for me; I just got started to enjoy the interview!

It was a fun interview session, and I hope there would be another chance to go on air, as long as I am an invited guest and not a DJ! Actually, I had once dreamt of being a radio DJ, but looking at how Stanley Leong do news reporting, I don't think I would be able to make it. Stanley was reading rather fluently from a newscript with a font size of perhaps only 10, and I think if I am asked to do the same, I'd probably had to stick the newscript onto my forehead! Nevertheless, this is one interesting experience which I don't think I'd ever forget.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Romance of the Dragon Princess": Performance Afterthought

It has been a few days since "Romance of The Dragon Princess" has been staged at Bukit Panjang Community Club, but I have yet to blogged anything about it due to my busy time schedule.

Looking back at last Sunday's performance, this show can be considered a success, as we received a few positive feedback from the audience, and our troupe has been approached to be interviewed over radio as well. From artistic perspective, I like this show as the music was well-composed, all thanks to Mr. Yang Senlin, the composer we had invited from Zhangzhou City Xiang Opera Troupe. This is despite the script was just average, due to the fact that the original Huangmei opera show was adapted from a folk legend. However, I don't quite like this show personally, as this is one show that almost made me totally discouraged in acting.

In 2001, when our troupe announced that we would be acting this show for our bi-annual theatrical performance in 2002, I was disappointed to know that I would be taking on the roles of miscellenous characters. Not that I am ambitious to want to take on lead roles, but having been in the troupe for almost half a decade, and in terms of capability or opera knowledge I certainly do not belong to the bottom ranks. This was not all; as we started our rehearsals, I was told that the musical ensemble was short of one percussionist, and hence I had to be withdrawn from stage to help out in the musicians' pit. I initially joined the troupe because I want to perform, and now that I did not have the chance to act in our bi-annual theatrical performance was a big blow to me, and almost resulted me in quitting. However, I did not leave in the end somehow, after my leader thanked me for "sacrificing" my role. Luckily for me, I was able to get back one of my slightly more significant roles, a heavenly general, in subsequent re-runs of this show in 2004. I also took the initiative to do the projection backdrop for the performance at Tampines East Community Club, which was my first attempt, but was well-received by the audience too.

Back to our performance last Sunday. Bukit Panjang Community Club was one of our "not-so-hot" performance venues, as our previous performance experiences there only received lukewarm responses. That night, however, it was close to full-house, even though it was raining dogs and cats just before the show started. I believed the "miracle" was due to the fact that the show was fully sponsored by the Northwest CDC. Not that I'm belittling our troupe's capabilities, but this is the real world: Hokkien opera-goers in general only watch Hokkien opera if it's free! Or unless the troupe is from Taiwan. I remembered in Chong Pang, an uncle came up to me and asked if we are from Taiwan. When I told him we're all local, he gave an uninterested face and commented "I'm a Teochew, I don't understand Hokkien!" (Give me a break, please! Taiwanese opera artistes do not speak Teochew as well!). Anyway, I still feel thankful that our show were sponsored. At least it made more people willing to come and watch our show, which is good, as it makes people more aware of our existence.

We still have a few upcoming shows in conjunction with NorthWest CDC's arts festival programme, and hopefully after these shows, they will continue to support us in our future shows.