Friday, March 3, 2017

Of The AMUK Preview and Revolution Stage

So this past week has been an interesting one. For starters, the AMUK play team finally staged a preview for the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC). Our director told us that our performance was "in no way bad," so that's okay. All four of us stumbled with our lines at some point, but we got through it and delivered the story that we needed to tell. It was a bit of a relief that we got through it, but now we wait to hear back from DPAC to see whether or not we get to stage our play there for the public to watch and scrutinise.

It was the first time I staged a play in eight years, so of course I wanted to do a good job at it, but at the same time I also think that in reality, I delivered a really rusty performance (at best). This might be because of the sheer amount of time I have spent away from stage acting. Not to say that I was any good at all eight years ago, but I felt more comfortable on stage back then than I did the other day. This could probably be attributed to the difference in the amount of time we spent to prepare for the respective plays. In Lela Mayang, we practiced for around five months, contrasting with the less-than-one-month of practice we spent on AMUK. So comparatively speaking, it makes sense that I was more comfortable staging Lela Mayang as Andak than doing AMUK as Michael, as I spent more time as the the former than the latter.

But even knowing this, I still feel like I should re-train myself as an actor. The last acting class I took was eight years ago, so it makes sense if I have lost touch with some of the basics. In an effort to re-learn those basics, I shall be attending an acting workshop that shall be conducted by Fauziah Nawi tomorrow. I am feeling nervous for it, both because it'll be my first time in an acting workshop in a long time, and also because it's Fauziah fudging Nawi, man.

After registering, they gave me a script and said that seven pages had to be memorised for the purposes of the acting workshop. I've always thought of workshops as people going to without having anything with them, and the teachers/facilitators will provide the knowledge one needs on the day itself. This is the first time I've ever experienced a workshop that asks their participants to memorise something before getting there. And I'm not the best memoriser (said the person who wants to be an actor), so it's been a struggle for me so far, and I haven't even gone to the workshop yet. Having said that, it's a challenge I welcome. If I can get through this and put the work in to be okay at this, then I might convince myself that I'm not making a huge mistake here, that me pursuing acting is something substantial.

Also, I've have attended career talks by Sharifah Amani, Sharifah Alesya and Bront Palarae. All established actors within their own right, and in Amani and Bront, people I have been looking up to for years now. A performance space called Revolution Stage organised these talks where these people who have been in the world of acting for a while come and share their stories as well as what they know about how things work in the scene. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend these talks and listen to what they had to say in person. Overall, it seems that it isn't easy being an actor that wants to do Good Work in Malaysia, because great scripts don't come by very often, and when they do, they might not be the actors that the directors have in mind for the roles, so it's tough.

In the Bront Palarae session, he was surprised to learn that I was interested in becoming an actor. Somehow, he knew that I wrote things here and there, so he recommended that I became a writer instead. He said something to the effect of "Malaysia needs more writers, not actors". And after listening to what he and Sharifah Amani had to say about the "industry" (as they put it), I can't help but agree. Looking at the kinds of stories that are on the big screen as well as on TV, one can't help but wonder if quality writings for the screen only come by once every five years in Malaysia. I'd love to write for the screen, but I don't really have a story to tell quite yet. Plus, if I'm being honest, and this might just be my vanity talking, the desire to be in front of the camera is currently stronger than the urge to be behind it.

I'm glad that I found the Revolution Stage. I now know of a space in which I could try out stuff for the stage. Maybe I could start writing things for the stage and perform it to a small audience there. The people behind Revolution Stage have invited me to do so, if ever I write anything I want to stage. Maybe I can try churning out a monologue and see where that takes me. It would mean I would have to change up my writing style a little bit for the stage, but it's an intriguing idea. Maybe I will. I most probably won't, due to my track record of procrastinating everything to the end of time. But maybe I will.

I recommend you guys try and check out Revolution Stage to see what's going on over there, if you have an interest in these sorts of things, of course. They're @RevolutionStage on twitter and facebook, so give them a search if you want.

Here's to taking steps in a new direction.

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