Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Directing Workshop: Week 3

So I didn’t go to the workshop last week because my brother got engaged, so I was there to be a part of that important moment of his life. I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t able to attend. Fortunately for us, the first thing that was discussed during this third session was what was done the previous week. 

The group said last week they continued the activity that was done in the first week, which was the draw/explain activity thing. Abang Wan also started talking about the roles of the director, but didn’t elaborate too much on it (since I’m guessing they ran out of time?).

This week, Abang Wan continued with his explanation of what the roles of the director include, and focussed on “choosing the script”. He said the director has  few things to consider before choosing a script, even if they liked it. Things such as whether or not the director is equipped in terms of knowledge, time and money to manifest the script on stage are important to consider.

One person asked if it was okay that a director chose a script that had already been staged and staged it exactly the same way (albeit with different actors) as its predecessor. Abang Wan didn’t like the idea, but it wasn’t wrong per se. Then we got into a discussion into whether or not it was okay.

I posited that it would be as if a person painted a painting that had already been painted before, in exactly the same way that it had been painted. It wouldn’t be wrong, per se to do that, but people would definitely put the value of the original higher than the value of the copy. It would be wrong, however, if the painter copy tried to pass it on as an original work. That’s a person taking credit where credit is not due, a corrupt practice indeed. The person making the copy needs to be transparent and honest about their work and clarify that it is indeed a copy and accept the feedback for what it is.

One person put forward that because a previous work had already been staged, there’s no reason to do it again the exact same way it was done in the past. They said that even movie remakes put their own spin on the story being told, because there’s not much point in telling the same story twice in the exact same way.

I suggested that because of the temporary nature of theatre performances, there might be a solid reason for a story to be restaged in the same way. Because what is performed on the stage begins and ends with the staging within that hour or two, and it’s not recorded on film or tv, then staging it again could be bringing the story to new, younger audiences. 

A play that I watched and loved when I was twelve might not continue to be told by the time I turn 28, and so out of love towards to play and what it had done to me, I would probably want to retell the story so that new twelve year olds might be able to watch and experience it in as close a way as I had all those years ago. In that regard, re-staging a play seems well-justified. But again, the onus is on the director to make it clear that it is a re-staging of an original work done by such and such so as to be transparent about the work of art.

That was a nice little discussion we had near the end of the session. Next week we are expected to bring along 15-20 minute scripts to the session. What we’ll do with them, I don’t quite know yet. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Until then, cheers.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Get To Know Me Again (21-30)

Here’s the third and final part of the Get To Know Me thingy where I answer questions 21-30. For answers to questions 11-20, click here. For answers to questions 1-10, click here.


21. I think every time the Auditor General of Malaysia publishes their report for the year, I get this overwhelming sense of “man, banyaknya duit yang dibazirkan begitu sahaja.” The marked up costs that the Government spends on things is borderline criminal, and I don’t know who should be taking responsibility for all that waste. 

Also, when we came back to Malaysia from Sydney, we received the receipt for our tickets, and we found out that each economy class ticket cost around RM12,000. That was outrageous to us. We put in a few inquiries as to why it cost so much. Never got an answer.

22. That a person may bear the sins made by another person.

23. Theatre practice has always been a nice place to meet new people, for me. Comedy shows may also turn out the same, if somebody introduces me to new people. I find people in theatre and comedy pleasant and easy to have fun with.

24. My favourite food would be nasi dagang. What I crave changes from time to time. I just ate a nasi lemak just now, so I’m craving nothing in particular. I think the thing I’ve had to stop myself from eating too often is KFC. Man that stuff’s so unhealthy, but so goooooooood.

25. I don’t re-watch tv shows, unless they’re reruns and nothing else is on. Ever since I’ve depended solely on Netflix for my shows, I haven’t returned to any other show except Breaking Bad and Rick & Morty.

26. This is a question I wish my friends would answer instead of me. But if I had to say something, probably bad puns, slow speech speed and soft-spokenness.

27. If I had to name a name, Qayyum would probably be it, even though I think he would disagree. But I think all of my friends are unlike me. Qayyum included.

28. The most traumatising moment of my life happened when I was studying in Sydney. A person made a fake Grindr account (Grindr is like Tinder, but specially for gay people) using my pictures that they took off of Facebook and details that they knew about me, including my phone number and home address. I received no less than ten strangers’ text a day ranging from “hi” to “sex?” for about three days. On the third day, one person even came to my house and wanted to come in. I turned him away, and stayed scared for the rest of the week. I changed my phone number shortly afterwards. I reported the account and got it shut down after a while. I even went to the police to see what I could do about it, to which I got an encouraging “there’s nothing we can do about it,” from the people in uniforms. It speaks to my privilege that this was the worst I got it. Many people have it way worse, and I empathise with them.

29. I learned this from a Jeffrey Archer book: be on time. If you can’t be on time, be early.

30. I’ll probably never get married again. Once is enough to last me a lifetime.


That was nice. I got to write. Yay!

I hope it wasn’t too boring for you, dear reader.


Get To Know Me Again (11-20)

Here are my answers to questions 11-20. Click here to read questions 1-10.


11. In most situations where it’s a social gathering, but I don’t know anyone there, or more realistically, the person I do know is busy talking to someone else or doing some other important thing. Like when it’s a kenduri and the only person I know is the groom/bride. So then I’d be like, “eat, don’t make eye contact with anyone, eat, don’t make eye contact with anyone, oh no I made eye contact with someone, smile, nod, continue eating, don’t make that mistake again.”

Equally as out of place for me is when everyone else there has work to do but not me. No one gave me a task to do, so I’d just be there looking at people being busy. That’s a weird spot to be in. I just wish somebody would give me something to do so that I don’t stand out as this lazy person who’s only shaking his leg and checking his phone every five seconds. I find myself in this situation a lot when it’s raya korban season and all the Men would be cutting up the cow and I’d be there without a knife, awkwardly just watching all these Manly Men go to work. Sometimes a considerate Aunty would give me something to do, and I’m always thankful for that.

12. I think I’m pretty unapologetic about what I like, in terms of art. But sejak kebelakangan ni there have been revelations about artists doing terrible things, and those are the ones I find tougher to admit to liking. Some examples would be Louis CK and Kevin Spacey. They have done terrible things, and I hope they never do those things again, but I can’t say that I’m no longer a fan of their past works.

13. Every time I see people littering, I get really angry inside. Another thing that can get me on a rant is ignorant people who talk about a thing as if they were the leading authority about it. Oh man do I dislike that.

14. I don’t know that I “belong” in any fandom per se, but I am a fan of certain things that a lot of other people are also a fan of (such as the Arctic Monkeys, Rick & Morty and Dynamic Banter). I guess for the former two, it’s that some people tend to think that just because they are a fan of that certain thing, it makes them better than other people who aren’t fans of that thing. I make Dynamic Banter the exception in this example because I’m pretty confident that people who are fans of that podcast are aware about how weird their taste in podcasts is, so they keep it to themselves and to each other most of the times. But I can’t say that I have met another living breathing fan of the podcast ever, so I don’t really know. This is just based on feel alone.

15. I sleep, most of the times. If that doesn’t work, I watch some stuff on Netflix. If that doesn’t work, I go meet up with friends.

16. I think it would be the day when I spent the whole day with my wife indoors watching Stranger Things 2. That was a nice day. But of course, too much of a good thing will turn into a bad thing (too much water, you drown. Too much food, you die. Etc), so any good day will turn into a nightmare jugak if I have to relive it everyday (but you know this).

17. Almost immediately, but I am almost immediately ready to be proven wrong as well. I don’t think I can refrain from judging people immediately, because I think that’s just how I am wired. But I try to keep my judgements to myself at all times, unless people ask me about them. If it’s negative, I’d be reluctant to answer.

18. Nasi lemak, a laptop, a guitar and a bed.

19. Nothing quite jumps out to me as the most satisfying thing I’ve done, but I have done things that I’ve found satisfying. Every time I finish a writing project is a satisfying feeling. A lot of times when I write a song to completion, it is satisfying. When I’ve successfully staged a play, it is satisfying. A good game of rugby is satisfying as well.

20. Snakes. Or hamsters. Imagine whacking a piƱata as hard as you can, only to find hamsters in it. You just killed a whole bunch of hamsters. 

Or bombs that explode when you hit them. 

Or your bills for the month. 

Or a collection of your Facebook statuses from 2009.


The next post shall be the answers to questions 21-30 (click here to read 21-30).


Get To Know Me Again (1-10)

So I saw that people were answering questions from this picture thingy on the twitters and I wanted to do it too, but as some might know, I don't like the concept of likes in return for effort, so I'll just answer all the questions here in this post because I WANT TO.

1. Basically it's just my Youtube name twitterified. Why that became my Youtube username was because apparently AnwarHadi was taken, and I didn't like the idea of numbers in a username, so I got around that by using "ini".

2. A lot of people have inspired me throughout my life. But I guess the question is in present tense, so the people that I can think of who inspire me right now include Mike Falzone, Scott Aukerman, Haruki Murakami, Joe Swanberg, as well as John and Hank Green.

Mike Falzone is a person who makes videos on Youtube, is a stand-up comedian in LA, and runs two of my favourite podcasts (Welcome To Our Podcast and Dynamic Banter). He's funny, honest and an unrelentingly kind person. I don't know how he does it, but he keeps making videos and podcasts that are not only entertaining, but provides perspective well beyond his years. I believe he thinks deeply about life around him and the relationships he has with people and is able to deliver advice in the most admiral way possible, with a good dose of humour and reality.

Scott Aukerman is a comedian, podcast host, tv show host and tv producer. He hosts my favourite podcast of all time: Comedy Bang Bang! Through listening to him, I have been able to be more and more comfortable with my own sense of humour. He has shown me what it means to be unashamedly yourself and honest with what I think is funny and rolling with it, not apologising to anyone about what weird things I find funny (this mostly relates to word-association stuff). He's loads of fun and is incredibly competent at keeping a conversation going while always finding a way to throw in as many stupid jokes he can fit into it. 

Haruki Murakami is an author. Every time I read any of his writing, I come away rejuvenated with a desire to write. I don't know what it is about his way with words, but it allows me to tap into my own creativity and makes me go "there is no right way to write, so just write."

I mainly know Joe Swanberg from his work on Netflix's original series "Easy". I love the series, and I want to be able to write and direct stories like that one day in the future, telling the stories of my people in what feels like an honest, heartfelt and sincere way.

John and Hank Green are among other things, people who make videos on Youtube, writers, entrepreneurs, and podcast hosts. I mostly spend time with them through their podcast "Dear Hank and John" (or as John likes to think of it, Dear John and Hank). It's a comedy podcast about death where I get my dose of dubious advice as well as the latest news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. I love how wise, funny and honest they are on the podcast, and I can only hope to be able to be that way in a decade's time.

3. I do more than I don't. I'd rather people have a positive view of me than a negative one, and that sort of dictates the way I treat other people, to a certain extent. But I am also a fan of living my truth, and if I am unhappy about certain things from certain people, I let it be known when it is asked of me. I try my best not to be hurtful, but sometimes my personal weaknesses (such as my inability to articulate my feelings, my bad choice of words, my carelessness, etc.) end up hurting people I'd rather not hurt. 

4. Right now, starting my career as a non-teacher.

5. Be kind to people.

6. I have three: writer, actor, musician. If I can be all three at the same time, that would be my dream job.

7. Maybe Holden Caulfield from Catcher In The Rye, but as a middle-aged adult. I'd like to know how he views the world now, how he tries to help (or not help), and just have a nice long conversation with him over coffee or tea.

8. My earliest ambition that I can remember was to be a pilot. I loved it whenever planes passed overhead (which kid doesn't, kan?),  and I would stare at them until they got out of sight. I was fortunate enough as well to be able to go on a few plane rides as a kid, and I loved the experience. I kept that as my answer to "what is your ambition?" until I was 15.

9. I don't really identify as any specific cartoon characters right now, but maybe Bojack Horseman would be the closest one I can relate to (without the being rich and famous part, of course).

10. There are plenty on my list of skills-to-work-on, but if I had to choose one, it would be the ability to write 5000 words of fiction in 6 hours everyday without fail. The more realistic version of this is of course somewhere nearer 500 words a day.

I'll work on these ten questions at a time, so the next post will discuss questions 11-20 (click here to read 11-20), and the one after that would be 21-30 (click here to read 21-30).


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Directing Workshop: Week 1

So this year I decided to sign myself up for a theatre directing workshop. It's organised by the good people of Revolution Stage (Bandar Utama). It involves weekly classes that span six months, and by the end of the workshop, each participant will get a chance to direct a real play that will be open to the public. I am one of the ten people that have signed up and I hope to learn a whole bunch from this experience.

I found out about this workshop through following Revolution Stage's instagram account. They posted about it and I immediately signed myself up, since being involved in theatre is a thing I want to do more and more of. Plus, directing is something I'd like to be able to do down the line, so it makes sense for me to learn about it sooner rather than later so that I am ready if and when those opportunities arise. I am going to use this blog to journal my experience of the workshop and reflect on what I have learned so that I don't forget everything I'll be learning from this programme.

Yesterday was the first class of the six-month workshop, and I had a good experience. We introduced ourselves to each other and shared why we signed up for the workshop, and then the instructor introduced himself. His name is Khairunazwan Rodzy (I'll call him Abang Wan) and he's been in the theatre game all his undergraduate and professional life, which amounts to a couple of decades' worth of experience. He's directed everything from the smallest to the biggest of stages, and has multiple Istana Budaya play directing credits to his name. He's a low-key, chill kinda guy with a great sense of humour.

One of the first questions we had a go of answering around the circle was "What is a director? Apa itu pengarah?" We got a range of answers from "a director is a person who directs" to "a director is a leader". My answer was: a director is the main story-teller.

I listen to podcasts regularly, and one of the genres of podcasting that I've been listening to more and more these past few weeks have been interviews with screenwriters and directors. One of the main things these highly successful professionals keep going back to is story-telling and the art/craft of story-telling, so it has shaped my understanding of their jobs as being first, story-tellers. It's just that their chosen medium of story-telling is film and tv that make them directors. And that makes sense to me.

People trust the director to tell the story the best way they can, and that's why the director gets to call the shots; because of that trust other people have in them to tell the story in an effective way, by putting the camera here versus there, and getting the actor to say these things versus those things. It's all to service the story, serving the purpose of story-telling.

Directors aren't the only story-tellers on set, of course. There are the actors, whose job it is to tell the story of their characters, the art director, whose job it is to tell the story of the settings the stories take place in, et cetera. And when a script is put in front of these story-tellers, all of them read it differently, because they're different people with naturally differing points of view. If one script is put in front of ten people, then ten different ways of telling the stories come out. It's the directors job to pull all these story-tellers together and say "okay, this is the story we want to tell, and we're going to tell it like this. Everyone needs to be pointing in this same direction, to achieve this thing, this story," and a good director is able to do this well, in my opinion.

One of the activities we did that I liked demonstrated how important it is that the director is able to communicate their thoughts to their team effectively. Each of the ten participants had to draw a picture depicting a story that was written by somebody else. Then one by one, we went to the front of the class and get the other participants to draw exactly what we drew on our piece of paper just by using the spoken word. We weren't allowed to use gestures or show our picture to the rest of the class.

It was a nice activity that showed to me how important it is for the director to be able to convey both the big picture and the small picture to their team. If all a director ever talks about is one of them, then people wouldn't be able to carry out the task quite as well. It's when everyone on the team is on the same page about what big picture they're drawing and what smaller pictures they're focussing on at any one time are they able to craft what the director intended all along. Directors really have to be mad-skilled communicators to be able to do their jobs well, in my opinion.

I'm looking forward to the next class and discovering what we'll be learning in it. I'm also looking forward to bringing snacks (because a three-hour workshop does work up an appetite) to share with the rest of the class.

Here's to communicating clearly.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Floating With No Direction

So it's a new year and I've been trying this thing out where I don't write what I want to attempt doing this year, mostly to see what it's like to start a year off without any expectations of myself, and I have to say, I don't like it.

Turns out, when I don't write down things I want to try and fail at doing, I do something even worse than that: nothing. And noticing that I'm doing nothing is usually the first step towards me doing something, but in this instance, since I haven't clearly delineated what I want to get done, I just sit there and stare into the middle distance, being fuddled by what I'm thinking, or even what I'm supposed to be thinking about. 

It’s like floating around in a body of water. Floating is relaxing and everything, but you’re never really going anywhere, not on purpose, anyway. And then when I get a panic attack about not going anywhere, I have nowhere to paddle to, since I didn’t set a course for anywhere in particular. So not knowing where to paddle to puts me into more of a panic, and I still get nothing done. And that sucks.

If I write down what I want to do, at least I can float in that body of water with knowledge of where I’m supposed to be paddling. So even if I’m not paddling, I at least know in which direction I want to go. And when I panic about not doing anything or not going anywhere, I’ll know what I need to do to remedy the situation.

So I guess this post is about what I want to (fail to) do in the immediate future, so that I don't feel like I'm the worst, most good for nothing person in the world.

Write, record and edit the final two book review videos from last year.
I've already finished reading one of the books, and I'm halfway through the second one (and I'm only a year too late). I've been putting them off because the first book is the first one in my doing the reviews where I have been struggling to find anything to like about. The second one is alright, but because I haven't written and recorded the first one yet, I feel guilty for continuing to read it (tapi tengok netflix tak rasa guilty plak Anwat?) . I shall write and record the videos, finish reading the final book and make the video for that one too, and then probably retire from doing the book reviews for a while and focus on reading the international books that I have been ignoring for the longest time pulak.

Start writing a fictional zine.
I have had this idea for a collection of five fictional stories in my brain for a while now. As usual, I haven't started writing it yet out of fear that it might turn out to be sucky. My brain keeps lying to me by saying "hey, writing nothing is better than writing something bad," which is completely false. Writing something bad is miles better than writing nothing. As writers day, a bad page can be fixed, a blank page cannot. So I just have to hunker down and knock those five sucky stories out and edit them later.

Learn more about scriptwriting.
It's definitely something I want to do in the future. I just don't know how it's done. Some would say, "la, just write lah!" and that's fair. But writing for the screen is a craft all its own, I feel like, and there are certain sensibilities and techniques that go beyond the ones needed for writing blogposts in order to write good ones. So I think it's worth learning about.

So those are probably the things I want to get done in the immediate future. Now, I shall proceed to ignoring to do all these thing, while feeling good about myself that I have planned my immediate future out. "I have stuff to do, I'm a busy boy," I can tell myself while listening to podcasts and watching a Netflix documentary I really don't need to watch.

Here’s to living life on purpose.