Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Modeling Cat

I attended Necessary Stage's "Sofaman" this afternoon at Marine Parade Community Club, after which I walked towards a nearby multistorey carpark to retrieve my motorbike. Along my way there, I chanced upon a stray cat on a grasspatch staring at two pigeons on a tree. Feeling that it is very hard to come by a cat that is not staring blanking at nothing or giving hard glares at people approaching them, I decided to take out my handphone and take a snapshot.

Alas, my handphone does not have zoom function, hence I decided to try inch in a little to take a close-up, but I had a hunch that it might just panicked and ran away. Surprisingly, it didn't, and on the contrary it walked to a spot within a metre from me and laid down. It is very rare to have a stray cat that isn't afraid of human presence, hence I carried on snapping pictures of it.

As you can see, my camera was actually less than half a metre from the cat, and yet it isn't at very least bothered by it. This is about one of the very few moments I can actually take pictures of a stray cat at such a close distance!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My "Professional" Site

So I now finally have my own "professional" site! Why the quotation marks you may ask. Well, that's because I'm still new to the technical theatre industry, and I don't dare to call myself a real professional designer yet! So basically what you can expect in my "professional" site is to showcase my lighting and scenic design works, and blog about my design concepts and other related stuffs. Currently I only have my design for "Bloodshed in the Imperial Palace" posted up, but more will come (if I manage to engage in more design works, that is!), so please give me your support!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Model Box of a One Room Flat (Finalised)

So, I've finally finished my scenic design assignment of making a model box on the theme of a room with a view and here you have it:

I'm relieved that I've finished it ahead of time, but that doesn't mean I'm now totally free. I'm now involved in another school production called "The Greeks", and I'm the assistant set designer. It's going to be a very complex set, almost architectural even, and the model construction is almost killing me. Well, there's really nothing I can do much about that, but just press on..

Sunday, October 04, 2009

One Room Flat Model Updated

This is my updated model for my one-room flat for scenic design module in school, made to a size of 1:25.

Of course, this is not a realistic scale down of a one-room flat, afterall I'm doing scenic design, not interior or architectural design. And thankfully I'm just doing the former, for this model is just too difficult to build and paint, especially the smaller elements. It's nevertheless an interesting experience and kind of fulfilling once it is done. Having said that, it's still not yet finished and I have still to add more stuffs to make relate more to the given poem by my lecturer.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Twinkle Twinkle Indian Star

I was doing random surfing again and I found this very hilarious video featuring "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" being sung in various traditional Indian musical styles. Of course, this is meant to be just for fun and not intended to make fun to either the old nursery rhyme or to the Indian musical culture. Enjoy!

It's a Messy Show...

Yesterday I went to attend "The Story of Dongpo and Chaoyun" by Guangdong Cantonese Opera First Troupe at the Esplanade. To be honest I had mixed feelings about this production on the whole. The acting and stage direction is great, but there're a few big flaws which I just can't accept.

First, the lighting was horrible. Despite being designed by the famous Zhou Zhengping (he'd designed lighting for many big shows in China), but it was painful to look at. Like for the final scene where by Su Dongpo was lamenting at Chaoyun's grave, the constant changing of coloured lighting was distracting. At several other scenes too, specials were lit for no apparent reason, misleading the audience to look at areas whereby there was totally no actions taking place. Of course, that is not to say Zhou's design sucks. I believed it is the fault of the programmer and/ or assistant lighting designer. Afterall, Zhou is only a guest lighting designer who designed the whole lighting (and to be honest I feel in general the lighting mood was good), and it is actually the assistant lighting designer who followed the troupe to Singapore and executed it. Somehow I think the assistant lighting designer or the lighting programmer failed to translate Zhou's lighting plan effectively, and it was very obvious on stage.

Secondly, the script contained severe factual problems. No doubt a playwright can change historical facts a bit to suit the whole script and the message he wish to convey to the audience, but geographical facts shouldn't be compromised. For this show, the playwright actually mentioned the West Lake constantly, even though Su Dongpo was supposed to be in Huizhou, Guangdong province. Now Huizhou and Hangzhou is thousands of miles apart!

It's a dismay that a professional troupe like this can make such big blunders. Luckily, the cast and music saved the show, and I believe they should still be given the credit.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Model Box of a One Room Flat

So we had to do a model box based on a given poem by our lecturer for Scenic Design module. The scenic set I came out with is a room that's derived from a one-room HDB flat. Well doing a model box is really a tedious process, because I have to admit I don't have very nimble fingers, and doing miniature models on a scale of 1:25 is really tough, and these models had to be as realistic as possible. Perhaps that's why I preferred more abstract set designs than going for realism? I had targeted to complete at least 50% of my model by Tuesday, and I believe I'm still on time, but I just feel lethargic, and I think even electrocution will not make me move much!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Unseen Shots from "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown"

Earlier on I've said that we crew members parodied the cast before the show started. So here are some of them, courtesy of Caitanya who played Schroeder.

An elongated dog... Adam's (our drummer) upper body and my lower body...

Me parodying Lucy in "Lucy Opens Shop"

Me parodying as Lucy and Adam as Schroeder in "Schroeder"

Closing of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"

"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" is finally closed last night and it was a good performance by the Level 3 Musical Theatre students, in collaboration with our Technical Theatre faculty. Other than yesterday's matinee which was like 60% full, all other performances were close to full house if not filled up to the max. Yesterday night's turnout even overstretched the seating capacity and I believed more chairs had to be added so as not to turn away anyone (I'm not sure though if anyone had been turned away).
My props table at a dark corner of the backstage

For those who still don't know what's my role in the production, I was one of the two assistant stage managers for the show. Over the intercom, other than identifying myself as "stage left" (since I'm stationed on the stage left side), I was also known as "the man on the stage left", or "Mr Stool" or "Mr. Baseball Bat", as I need to throw stool and baseball bat to my fellow actor as required by the director. Generally speaking, stage crew like me are not supposed to be seen by audience when the show is running. Hence, to make up for the loss of exposure, I had some fun with my other crew members while the cast is not around by parodying them on stage. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone had footages of these monkeying scenes of us, so I won't be able to post them up here. But to be honest, if I'm at least taller by 10cm, I might have joined the acting or musical theatre course instead. I'm actually equally interested in the performance aspect of theatre, so seeing others perform on stage tends to make to itch for acting opportunities too. But for now, I'll just stick to technical theatre.
Queen Julia from the Queendom of BopIt, also known as Miss Dogbone for having a throw a 1m dogbone on stage to Snoopy.

The cast of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"

Right now, I'm relieved that the production is over, but on the other hand I'm starting to miss working on this production already, because I really like this show since ages ago. Hopefully I'll get to work with the same group of actors again, though I'm not sure if there'll be any chance till the end of this academic year...
The backstage crew, finally exposed to public...

Burning of the damned leaf that refused to listen to the SM's cue by the SM after last night's performance.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Performance at Yilan

I returned from Yilan last Tuesday after a five-day performance tour with my opera troupe and it is only now that I have the time to blog about it.

Part of our troupe's suitcases... but none of which is mine..

This performance is the second of the troupe's overseas performance tour to Taiwan for the year, but it's my first time traveling with them. Of course, I do not get to act due to my busy schedule. I decided to give up my role to someone else in view that I had to juggle between doing scenic design, lighting design, scenic construction, school production and school homework all at the same time.

Rigging in progress, with Ah-Long, my light op and great assistant to me throughout our stay in theatre.

Reflecting back, this performance is very hectic, as day in day out, everyone of us was stuck in the theatre since morning till late night, and hence there's totally no time for personal leisure. For me it's even worse; due to some communication breakdown, I had to do last minute lighting and scenic changes to accomodate the change in stage configuration, and one of our major scenic elements could not be pieced up in time, even with the assistance of many other troupe members. Luckily for me, everyone went on smoothly.
The lighting console: ETC Insigh 2X (oh my god it's so antique!)

A view of my symbolic scenic design without the lights; as usual, me with my drapes

Having said so, there're things which I was very sore about. First, I wasn't given any credit in the programme booklet. I don't know if this is the usual practice for the Taiwanese that the creative team is usually not credited, or that it has been left out due to space constraints. Well, they were kind enough to include it in for me after I raised it up, but then an amended programme booklet is no longer original anymore. Another thing is I wasn't able to take pictures of my own scenic and lighting design, despite being promised that someone would do that for me. No doubt I can extract the stills from the DVD recording, but how can still images be compared to high-res photographs, when it comes to compilation of portfolio? It's all about compromising of my professionalism, although I'm still not yet a professional.

Rigging again... with a bit of lighting

Bad moments aside, I still feel this is a rather nice experience. I learnt quite a lot, like coming out with contingency plans within 5 hours, planning a technical schedule (even though it may not be a perfect one), and cueing a show entirely in Mandarin. Say, how many newbies in the industry can have the luck to do all these?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Numbers from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" animated version

I can't wait for the actual rehearsal for the musical theatre level 3's "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown". Personally I'm a fan of "Peanuts", and I'm curious how it would be staged. Not so much because it's comic-turned-musical, but I want to see how a seemingly innocent on the surface but very adult-orientated (as in the characters actually speak more like adults instead of kiddy language) cartoon is like on stage, played by real young adults.

"You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"



"The Kite"

"Book Report"

"T-E-A-M" a.k.a. "The Red Baron"

"Glee Club Rehearsal"



I know some numbers in this musical is not in list of clips above, but these are all I can find. Hopefully I can find the DVD version of this musical locally someday...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

End/Start of Performance Season

Amai was last saying that it was the end of her performance season for now. Well, before mine could start, I'd terminated it already.

You see, although my opera troupe is going Taiwan at the end of the month to perform and I was assigned to take on a rather big role in the production, I've decided to give it up due to my very tight schedule. The lighting and scenic design job for this production is killing me, and on top of that I'm about to start on the rehearsal for "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown", in which I'd be the assistant SM. Feeling that I would not have time to even attend rehearsals for this Taiwan performance for just once a week, I decided that I shouldn't take on the role.

If you asked if I'm disappointed not being able to perform in Taiwan, I'd say it's a "yes" and "no". Of course, it's a pity that I can't take part in a major, overseas performance. But then again, thinking that I'd be designing for a production that is to be staged out of my homeland when I'm still relatively green in the industry is nevertheless exciting.

But there's something else that's making me excited; it's my involvement in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"! Although I'm not going to perform in it, but then again I loved this musical (I've not watched it before, but I've heard the songs over and over again many times) and it came as a surprise to me that our Musical Theatre Level 3 students are going to stage this next month.

Excitement aside for now, it's time to get back to the stressful design work for the Taiwan performance!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mad Mad Crafts

In my previous post I was talking about doing paper mache of a giant cat for a project. Well, this is not a follow-up of it, because I was being taken away from it to be involved in another project since mid last week.

This time round, I am working with a children education and entertainment company to conceive and produce crafts based on a specific festive theme where they'll produce videos teaching children how to make them. Initially I thought it would be easy for me, but it turned out elsewise. No doubt I have interests in arts and craft, but coming out with ideas for crafts that is easily manageable for kids is not really easy. According to the creative director, they have to be simple for kids to handle on their own with little supervision, yet have to look sophisticated. Sounds very oxymoronic, but that's how kids craft are like, as I've found out. Not only that, there're many restrictions to the construction too: no potentially dangerous stuffs like hot glue and saws, and materials used must be very easily available in homes (including homes in some middle eastern countries where these videos will be aired).

Sometimes, the creative process is frustrating as ideas just don't come easily, but at times it's fun though, as it forces me to think out of the "convention". Hence, despite this project has got nothing to do with scenic design, in a sense, through engaging in this project, it makes me think more and to challenge myself in terms of creativity. At the end of the day, I still learn something, and that's more crucial.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hey You Guys!!!

Suddenly out of the blue I decided to do a search on "Electric Company" on Youtube (don't ask me why I did that; I always do strange things for no reasons) and found some videos on this old-skool children programme.

To be honest I couldn't quite remember the contents of this programme already; all I can remember clearly is a woman screaming "Hey you guysssss!!" at the start of the opening credits, and that back during my childhood, I liked this show more than Seasame Street.

Time to recollect the past!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Working Against the Forces of Nature

Today I went to a quiet part of East Coast Park early in the morning.
The quiet East Coast Park on a Tuesday morning...

Rest and seclusion you may think, but it's not! I was supposed to meet up with some of my colleagues (actually school mates and lecturers) to do a scenic design project. What we were supposed to do is to build a 1.7m tall cat, which we had to first built on sand, then do papier-mache on it.
Our sand model of the Japanese doll cat; the reference cat was on there on the sand.

Our finished sand model.

Alas, the forces of nature (tidal waves) were too strong for us, and we had to abort halfway. It was a pity, but what can we do? We can only try again tomorrow, and hopefully it will be better tomorrow...

The waves were coming in and the legs of the cat were almost gone; we had to abort because the waves would just wash everything into the sea before the papier mache can even dry...

Crewing After-thoughts

Finally, I have something to blog about.

I had just finished two school productions in a row, and it was real hectic. Being a stage crew and assistant stage manager respectively for both these shows, I finally had a chance to see how a school production (out of LASALLE context) works. To be honest, I don't think school productions are my cup of tea due to various reasons. First it's tough working with students and school teachers, and secondly school productions usually have an unusually large number of performers which can be a nightmare at times. However, there's one thing I do like about school productions though, and that is the finale. With the amount of performers on stage, plus the naturally-high energy level of students in general, curtain calls are always loud and fun.

At the moment, I can't say for certain if I'd ever crew for school productions again. I might if I'm in desperate need of money, but I think I can consider doing scenic design. Although school performances generally have nothing artistic for me to really take pride in, but I believe it is a challenge, to design sets based on limited budgets. Well, I'll see...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Something Random...

This post comes in two parts, of which are totally not related.

First, I've just got the email from NAC asking me to go down for interview early next time with regards to my application for bursary. Hopefully I can get it!

Second, here's a parody of a Korean soap opera by MadTV (it's not quite new already, actually) which I thought is quite funny:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Heineken Spoofed

I know I haven't been updating this blog for quite some time, partly because there's nothing worth updating for the time being. But for now, here's a spoof for that funny Heineken beer ad on TV now..

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"The Sound of Music" Marionette Style

"The Sound of Music" by Julie Andrews is such a classic. But, can anyone imagine it being performed not by flesh and blood actors, but with marionettes? Take a look at it:

This production is presented by the world-renowned Salzburg Marionette Theatre which I like very much. Hopefully I'd have the chance to watch them live one of these days.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Inspired: Edward Gordon Craig

Lately I've been busy. Very busy.

First I had to render costumes for scenography project on "Romeo and Juliet". Second I have to attend rehearsal for "Three Fat Virgins Unassembled" as an ASM, at the same time help out with the bump-in of this show together with that of "Invisibility" (currently performing in school). Third, a few essays are almost due and I've yet start on any of them.

Anyway, that's not the main point for this post.

Lately I got an "offer" to do scenic and lighting design for my troupe's "Bloodshed in the Imperial Palace", which we would be performing in Taiwan this August/ September. Actually, it was me who volunteered my service, as I thought this would be a good learning experience for me, instead of just working in school context. But then, it wasn't that easy for me as I'm faced with two big challenges: my troupe leader wanted me to use as little set pieces as possible and use more of light to enhance the performance; the venue has got only 4 fly bars for flying scenic pieces.

This comes as a blow to me. No way am I going to compromise my artistic vision just because of budget constraint, as I've done in 2006 for "Courtesan Yu Tang Chun" which I felt is a failure and that I'm almost too ashamed to even put it in my CV. However, lately as I was doing research on Edward Gordon Craig for my Theatre History essay assignment, I realised that there's a lot I could learn from him. He too once had to make do with an unpromising theatre and yet he could create something out of it. What's more important is that despite having relatively simple set for his productions, they remained very effective because he was able to make his set integrate with the whole plot, instead of being a standalone element on its own.

Perhaps I can try to apply his techniques into my design. However, how well it works is yet to be known...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wrapping up of "Emouvoir"

Yesterday was the second, and the last performance of our Technical Theatre Level 1's show "Emouvoir", and I'm greatly relieved. Though there're still hiccups here and there, it was nevertheless a nice working experience. What was unexpected was the turnout for both shows, and it was even more surprising that most, if not every member of the audience stayed till the end of the show. Sad to say, I was too busy during the interval to ask our videographer to change tape before the start of Act 2, hence almost half of the show was recorded. It was a pity, as this is our first class production, and god knows when we might have the chance to do that again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Emouvoir Emouvoir

Our Technical Theatre’s show “Emouvoir” will be opening this week and our whole class is busy like hell as everyone is involved.

This “Emouvoir” thing is actually part of our theatre making module in which we have to stage a performance all by ourselves, from the initial conceptualization to design process all the way till setting up the stage. The only thing we do not do is to act and do promotion for it. Therefore, we have to direct a short piece of drama or dance, do lighting design for another, sound design for next, and then stage manager as well. It is stressful and confusing as we have to squeeze 12 groups of rehearsals together, sometimes even overlapping one another. Nevertheless it is still fun at times.

On a side note, I was involved in the poster design for this performance. It went well initially, until the Corporate Communications department told us that the poster design looked a bit ambiguous in meaning due to the image of a naked man’s torso on the poster. Luckily for me, being an ex-Visual Studies Foundation student, I was well-prepared for the justification, and the poster design was finally approved with the insertion of a short blurb on the poster to contextualise it.

“Emouvoir” will be on at LASALLE’s Flexible Performance Space on 19 and 20 February.

Friday, January 09, 2009

"Medea" Backtrack: Set Design

I should have blogged about this long ago, but I supposed I had totally forgotten about it!

When our class got the copy of the script "Medea", we were supposed to first come out with the design for Cornell Box, and then from there carry on to make a set design, and subsequently the costume design. All these, of course, are just for assignment purposes and not meant to be really materialised.

As stated in my previous post, I had adapted my setting to ancient India and there is a reason why I did that. The whole concept behind my set design for “Medea” came from a single idea of Kali, the Hindu Goddess usually associated with destruction and death. In turn, Kali is a manifestation of Parvati, the benevolent Supreme Divine Mother. The multiple manifestation of the Supreme Divine Mother shared some similarities to Medea, as she has many faces to her as well; Medea is a sorceress, a vengeful wife and a seemingly loving mother (as she claimed to be in the script) all rolled into one. Medea’s ultimate destructive nature also parallel to a certain extent to Kali, but at the same time contrast with the Goddess in the sense that Kali kill demons for maintaining peace on earth, but Medea kills for revenge. Based on the above aspects, I have decided to transpose the setting from ancient Greece to ancient India.

The set consist of 4 components, flats showing distorted structures of a Hindu shrine depicting the distorted perspective of Medea’s world, enormous holy Hindu scriptures in the form of raked platforms representing Medea’s beliefs in the Gods, an inverted cut-out of a Indian landscape on a seamless translucent canvas for the projection of washes to create different dramatic moods and a turn-able rostra which shows the idol of Parvati on one side and the “throne” for Medea on the back.

At the start of the show, Medea is in the temple of Parvati pouring her heart out at the Goddess. The skyline is deep blue, echoing the melancholy of Medea. The chorus, in the form of fairies by the sides of the Goddess, appears to console and give advices to Medea. After Medea kills her children, the skyline turned red to symbolize bloodshed, and at the same time, the flats showing the distorted structures flies off and the “statue” of Parvati turns around to show Medea’s “throne”. Medea, who now appears dressed like Kali climbed onto her throne, suggesting that she is her own God. The whole rostra rolls off upstage and the black centre curtains draw in, masking out the entire upstage, leaving only Jason all alone on stage.

Below here are images of my final set design:

And here are my initial set concept, and an intermediate design before I derive at my final one:

Dollie Finale: The "Medea" Story

For the past 1 month, I have been sewing, cutting, defraying and hurting my fingers like a costume-making machine, and finally today I have them all submitted to my lecturer. Hence here I present, the costume design for "Medea" the play! For those who are wondering how come the costumes I've shown in my last pose looked so Indian despite the fact that "Medea" was set in ancient Greece, I've actually adapted it into Indian setting, reason for that will be given in my next post on the set design (something which I had done last semester but just realised that I've not blogged about it yet!)

Costume for Medea at start of play. Her exaggerated sari has got a long end which sweep across the floor, and together with the peacock motif suggested her pride, elegance, and difference from other ordinary woman. She is dressed in South Indian style as I've set her to be of South Indian origin, as opposed to the North Indian adaptation of the play.
Costume for Medea after she killed her two sons. She seemed to have changed into another character, as she thought she is Kali by destructing whatever gets in her way, but of course she is not, hence her appearance her shows some similarity to common portrayal of the Goddess, but yet still very different.

Jason the future Princess Consort, hence dressed like a Prince.

Costume for King Creon of Gupta Empire (in original text the place is Corinth). About the same style as Jason, but more elaborate.

Costume for King Aegeus of Sassanid Empire (in original text the place is Athens). Although he's also a King, but he dressed differently from Creon, for obviously he's from Persia.

Costume for Chorus. Instead of women in the street, my Chorus is made up of fairy maidens transformed from temple statues.

Costume for the Nurse. The nurse in my adaptation is a comical role and of slightly higher importance because she knew well what is going on in the household, unlike Medea who is trapped in her own world.

Costume for Tutor. Other than King Aegeus, he's the only man in the show to wear garment for the upper body, because he's the more educated one. In my adaptation he's almost a comical role like the nurse.