I worked in a haunted bar

So, I just found out that the “theatre” we’d been working in is haunted.

Our stage manager, who is apparently “sensitive” to spirits, can see them. Throughout the five days we were at the Q Bar, she saw a mother and daughter spirit always sitting or standing in a corner.

The Q Bar was one of our performance spaces and acted as our base where we met and put our stuff, so we spent a lot of time in there.

There’s also another female ghost residing outside the bar.

The security guards around the Arts House confirm that this is true.

We had a post mortem meeting today and all this was revealed after the meeting. We learned that there were times some of us even walked through the ghosts or sat on them.


There were some moments I was alone in the Q Bar late at night.

But nothing happened to us in the five days we were there and our show went well without major hiccups so, if there were spirits, they must be benevolent.

But I think Sean (designer) was a little disturbed when he heard that there was a moment when he walked right through the skirt of the woman spirit, who was just floating in mid air.

Bendini (The Fun Stage) exploded into dramatic hysteria. “Why must they float around and scare people?? Why can’t they just behave normally??!!?!?!?”

Timothy (publicist) burst out laughing at that, but that’s Timothy.

We learnt that ghosts look just like us except that they have a translucent quality and they pretty much just go about doing whatever it is they do.

“Well, what is it they do?” I asked.

No one could tell me.

“When they’re walking along Orchard Road, do they go shopping?” Bendini wanted to know.

“Of course not!” said Richard (Little Red Shop).

I think ghosts (if they really exist) are misunderstood. Maybe most of them are harmless (I’m not saying all are). It’s the media that makes them into horrible, scary beings that eat people or whatever.

But I wonder. Do they have a purpose when roaming the earth? They allegedly can’t interact with objects in our plane and I haven’t heard any reports of them having their own objects. So what do they do? Aren’t they bored being restricted to sitting, walking and floating, maybe for eternity?

I would be. No computer games, no DS Lite, no camwhoring, no blogging, no going to parties, no reading books, no acting in plays and accidentally sitting on ghosts.

What a horrible existence.

After it has all ended

After two weeks of neglect, my corner in my bedroom looks like this.

When I’m consumed by work, my corner turns into a junkyard.

It’s very disturbing because I hate mess. I feel lost and unsettled sitting in a pile of mess, which is very unfortunate because I’m actually quite a messy person, especially when I’m busy.

Fortunately, I’m not that busy anymore because 3 Men Meet 3 Women has ended.

Sad. =(

But, pictures!

My performance was the opening act for all three nights. It was very daunting, but also advantageous because I could get it over and done with quickly and go watch the other acts leisurely.

This was at the Arts House box office. The little “shower room” on the right was my stage. I was confined in that little cage for my 20-minute solo performance. I was supposed to paint pictures on it while saying my lines so it’s like another layer of entertainment for the audience.

Pre-painted drawings to start the performance off with.

I didn’t actually paint all that myself. Heheh. The bulk of it was pre-painted by my mentor-director. I just had to add a few more curlies and flowers during my performance.

The above photo was taken by Johnny Malkavian during my performance. You can view more photos here.

The glass panels look cloudy and yucky because we had to clean off the paintings each day for the next day’s performance and it was impossible to get the glass back to its original clarity. This was taken on the last day of performance so, by then, the glass had gotten really really bad.

Will post more pictures when I get them from my director, who took pictures of my rehearsal when the glass was still clean.

The second act of our show was very challenging, being located outdoors.

It was at the Stamford Raffles statue by the Singapore River (beside Timbre).

Building the set.

Performance night.

Chris, the actor, had to really project his voice because he had to compete with the noise from Timbre (the pub just beside the statue).

On the last night, the set was moved to the Arts House foyer because it looked like it might rain.

Third act was Shuzhuang and her playground, located in the now-defunct Q Bar in the Arts House.

It was an amazing experience working on this theatre project. I’m eternally thankful to Richard Chua of Little Red Shop for giving me the opportunity to do theatre in a professional capacity when no one else would.

I’m also grateful to my mentor-director Yeo Hon Beng for very patiently and creatively helping me unlock the skills I needed to undertake this challenging task.

I’m still amazed that I was able to pull the whole thing off. I wrote the following about the process of working on this challenge (which was printed in the show’s programme booklet).

First of all, let it be said that it’s impossible to co-write a script through e-mail. The challenge posed to me and my graphic designer was to jointly develop a solo act for me to perform. Both of us were enthusiastic. Both of us had ideas. But both of us were also very busy. We could never find a mutually agreeable time to meet or even talk on the phone. So we ping-ponged ideas via e-mail and it took us a month just to agree on a story idea, which left us with hardly any time to actually write the damn thing.

Secondly, let it be said that theatre practitioners are crazy. It is ten days to opening night and I am shedding tears of panic onto the first draft of my script. It has been rejected because it is one medal short of award-winning. So I indulge in a bit of hysterics, “How is it possible for me to suddenly turn into an award-winning playwright and produce a brilliant script and be ready to perform it for a paying audience in ten days?!” And my director smiles at me and says, “Of course it’s possible. This is theatre.”

– Shen Qiaoyun

Hon Beng was right. I managed to do it. Actually, he had to help me rewrite my script after my two attempts. So it goes to show that crazy challenges are possible to surmount as long as you have the help and support of people around you.

Oh, remember the chipped nail I got from cleaning my glass panels?

The whole thing chipped off after the second night.

Heheh. My poor nails.

And this:

I showed a few people and they thought I fell down or something.

Wahahaha! (Yah lah, I enjoy cheap thrills.)

It’s paint. *lol* Looks like dried blood, doesn’t it?

I got paint on my arms, too.

Unfortunately, I had to clean off everything after the last performance because I indulged myself and got a lot of paint all over myself. I had to clean it all off after the show or scare every passer-by on the street.

I left my dirty costume on, though.

Photo courtesy of Rikiro Chung, our project publicist.

More random photos!

Chris and Shuzhuang fighting with pretzel sticks after the last show.

Hong Beng and Debbie (designer) wearing Debbie’s impromptu creations on their heads.

Me camwhoring in the Arts House toilet.

Shuzhuang and Richard cleaning paint off their hands at the Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre toilet.

Everyone got pink paint on their hands while moving the sets and props back to our base at TAPAC because someone forgot to shut the lid on the pink paint properly. Hahaha.

Anyway, my final thoughts on this project.

I value the experience a lot. I don’t think I put up an award-winning performance, but I think I did the best I could given the time I was allowed to prepare for it.

I felt my performance on the second night was really weak because I don’t know why I kept getting distracted by a zillion things, which was a shame because we had our biggest audience that night (about 30 or so people).

But I made it up on the third night.

I received three very different feedback for my performance from various people:

1. Touching
2. Disturbing
3. Weak

At least I still have room for improvement. Lots of room, in fact.

I’m already beginning to miss working on the production and hanging out with all the people who were part of it. Well, there’s still a cast party to look forward to, so it isn’t the end yet.

But I hope it won’t end even after it ends, if you know what I mean.

I love my life, this perfect life.

Rehearsing nonstop

Wow, Wireless@sg is actually impressive today. Got connected without fuss. Is it location? I am now at the Arts House. Last day of preparation before opening night.

Some people having lunch, some people busy building sets and rigging lights. My director isn’t free at the moment (cos he has more roles than just directing) so I am taking a breather from rehearsing.

Unfortunately, I can’t post photos today because I’m blogging from my DS Lite. So, only words. My brain is filled with words. Lines running through my brain every waking moment. I mean lines from my play.

My director told me that theatre practitioners have no life because they rehearse and rehearse day and night. I have an inkling of this now after just a few days.

I wake up in the morning and rush to location.The day is spent acting, rehearsing, learning, going shopping for props and costumes.This goes on till late at night, then I go home and I’m fast asleep in an instant. Then I wake up again in the morning and the cycle repeats,

What a wonderful, marvellous life!

I think our show will be really great, although I can’t say if my performance will be. Haha.

Oops gotta go. Breaks over, back to rehearsing!

I’m so busy I’m turning psychotic

And now, I’m going to recap my past two weeks, in case people don’t believe me when I tell them that I’ve been busy to the point of psychosis.

Starting with a party.

Nov 24 (Sat) — Drunken Guitar Heroes

I organised a party for my delinquent friends, luring them with Krispy Kreme donuts (all 3 dozen of ’em, courtesy of my favourite Hong Kong-based cousin who goes by the endearing moniker of Monster).

At the party, I made everyone play battle mode in Guitar Hero 3. The loser of each battle had to drink a shot from an unwanted bottle of raspberry vodka that had followed our group from party to party for two years because nobody ever wants to drink it.

We all ended up pretty drunk (because I made sure everyone took turns to play and lose) and had to crash at J&J’s place overnight. Was planning to blog about this (I have incriminating videos! Wahaa!) but haven’t had time to sort out the pics and vids yet.

Nov 25 (Sun) — Free And Easy (Not)

I say free and easy because I had no appointments. But free and easy is not as free and easy as it sounds. It just means I could stay home to nurse my hangover work on any number of things piling up on my metaphorical in-tray — advertorials, scripts, blogs, rehearsals.

Nov 26 (Mon) — New Project In The Works

Met up with some folks to discuss a video blogging project that was supposed to have started this week but got delayed due to technical setbacks. (Which was actually fortunate because I don’t know how I would have found the time to work on it otherwise.)

Nov 27 (Tue) — Playing Truant To Work

I skipped ABT (gym) class for the fifth consecutive week. Not because of laziness (as is usually the case) but because I’ve been so busy meeting deadlines that exercise has to wait.

Spent the day slaving over my script for 3 Men Meet 3 Women, instead, because I needed to cough it out, pronto.

Nov 28 (Wed) — Anti-Smoking Crusade

I’m acting in this anti-smoking play designed to persuade staff in the civil service to quit smoking. Yes, it’s an educational play but we try to make it funny so that it distracts our audience into forgetting to be annoyed by the messagy nature of the play.

(Rehearsal picture taken at Health Promotion Board auditorium)

We go to exciting places like airbases to perform. (Actually, it’s a pain to go to those places because of all the security procedures at entry and exit points.)

On this day, we had two shows to perform at two different locations, one of which was Tengah Airbase. I made a discovery there: If you park your car backside in, it will get towed away. An officer kindly alerted us to that fact when we made the mistake of parking our vehicle like normal Singaporeans do. But he didn’t want to explain why.

Nov 29 (Thu) — First Rehearsal

I had my first rehearsal for 3 Men Meet 3 Women, which I already blogged about.

Nov 30 (Fri) — Trying To Plug Holes

I was able to get properly psychotic today because I didn’t have any engagments. So I was forced to stay home and work on the damn script, which had just been shot full of holes from the previous day’s rehearsal. Spent all day stressing over plugging the holes. Didn’t make much progress because I was too panicky to concentrate properly.

Dec 1 (Sat) — Crying At Auditions And Laughing At Parties

I auditioned for a feature film and cried real tears when performing a monologue which I only had 10 minutes to prepare. It’s really liberating and fulfilling when that happens. Actually, I always find it easier to cry on fresh material than on prepared pieces. I don’t know if other actors are that way.

After my audition, I rushed to Morte’s birthday dinner. (Late again.) The plan was to surprise him with dinner and a birthday cake. But because Morte is an inquisitive dongo who likes to sneak up behind his wife and peek at her MSN conversations, which, during one inopportune night, involved secret birthday party plans, he already knew everything even before the day arrived.

After dinner, we came to my place for Drunken Guitar Heroes Part 2.

Don Juan de Porko (picture, left) showed us the alternative way to mash buttons. (Check out his left hand.)

The Goonfather commented on this photo: “F**king Stamford Raffles or guitar hero, siah??”

Well, I don’t know who or what The Goonfather himself was trying to be when he struck this pose (below).

But I do know it’s the best pose to strike if you’re in the mood for cramping both your arms before the song is done.

Dec 2 (Sun) — Meeting Ate My Social Time

A technical meeting was held to discuss – duh – technicalities and logistics for 3 Men Meet 3 Women.

I wanted to discuss my script with the director, producer and my partner, but there wasn’t enough time and I had to rush off to watch the Slingers. I even sacrificed half the basketball match by leaving the meeting later than I’d planned.

Dec 3 (Mon) — Mission Complete

Today was the ultimate do-or-die day. I absolutely had to rewrite a passable script even if it killed me. Countdown to performance: 11 days.

So I sat down and forced myself to keep working at it no matter how many times I got stuck. I would write one page, then get up to walk around my room complaining, “I’m stuck!” and pulling my hair out, then sit down again and write some more.

Using that method, I finally completed the script despite being horrendously tired from lack of sleep. I did-and-didn’t-die!

Dec 4 (Tue) — Happy Big Project

Met up with a bunch of happy people to talk about starting a new theatre/media group so we can create our own platforms to do the things we love to do. There are already several ideas we want to work on as soon as we have time. This is the way to live life, is it not!

Dec 5 (Wed) — Hobnobbing With Elites After A Long Day Of Work

I had a corporate photoshoot at Singapore Polytechnic. Not for SP but for Ministry of Manpower (related to my Promoting Singapore video). Photoshoots are generally boring because they don’t engage me actively, since I have to stay still in specific poses. Staying still too much makes me want to jump and dance and run around a football field yelling at the top of my voice. But photoshoots are easy jobs that pay well for minimal effort so I like them for that.

From the photoshoot, I had to rush to NYU Tisch Asia for a party. I was half an hour late. Then again, is there such a thing as “late for a party”?

Wasn’t really a party, actually. It was a mixer, the purpose of which was to allow potential future hotshot actors and potential future hotshot directors to network. Many of those potential future hotshot directors came up to me to say they recognised me from the two short films I had acted in for their coursemates, and to congratulate me for doing a really great job. I hope they were all genuine compliments.

Dec 6 (Thur) — Qiaoyun The Blogger, Qiaoyun The Model

Was invited to Samsung office, together with a small group of bloggers, to talk about blogging, new media, gadgets and yet another project, which I can’t reveal now. It was a fun meeting. Strangely, no one took any photos.

Right after that was a 3 Men Meet 3 Women rehearsal. We did hotseating today. In theatre terms, that means an actor gets into character and has to answer questions thrown at him by the director and/or other actors. All questions must be answered in character. It’s a cool way to explore a character deeper and to test how much an actor knows his role.

Throughout the hotseating, my director claimed, the way I physically sat screamed “Qiaoyun the model” instead of my character. Well, I sat the way I thought my character, a high society lady, would sit, like all proper and posey, you know?

Dec 7 (Fri) — OMG Reshoot

We had to reshoot an episode of Snap! (the kids drama now showing on Channel 8, Sundays, 10:30 am) because one episode was dropped for inappropriate content (which is subjective, in my opinion). So we had to shoot a new episode with a new script to replace the dropped one. My hair is now four inches longer than in the other episodes. I hope no one notices.

Today — No Rest For The Weary

Attended a Philips press event for bloggers (I’m really tickled and a little disconcerted that bloggers are more and more being recognised as an alternative for conventional press). I’m sure you’ll be reading about the event pretty soon from some popular blogs in the Singapore blogosphere. I can’t talk about it now because I have to rush off (yet again) for a rehearsal after posting this blog.


I’m working on so many things at the same time that I don’t have time to tidy up my wardrobe, which is now looking like a tornado hit a clothing store and dumped its spoils into it.

I don’t have photos for many of the activities I mentioned above because all the rushing about saps my energy. I don’t have any strength left to even take my camera out. Haha. I mean, I do enjoy every meeting, every rehearsal and every project. But the fact that they’re all clamouring for my attention at the same time is killing me.

I’ve been rushing from one thing to another so much that it’s a wonder I can keep track of what’s going on.

When I bump into people recently and they ask, “How have you been?” I give a tired look and say “Busy.”

If they ask, “Busy with what?” I’m speechless because I don’t know how to start answering.

Next time someone asks again, I’m going to answer, “I’m so busy I’m turning psychotic” and then give them the link to this post.

Don’t worry, theatre is like that

Still working on the project that’s making me psychotic.

I worked through the night and finished drafting version two of my script at 4:20 am this morning. Now waiting for feedback and revisions.

The show is happening in 10 days and I’m in two minds about publicising a performance for which I don’t even have a working script.

My mentor-director said, “Don’t worry. Theatre is like that.” And he went on to talk about plateaus and breakthroughs. “It’ll happen,” he said. “Trust that I won’t allow your performance to be bad.”

Uh… ok.

I hope for my sake that his skill will overcompensate my cluelessness.

I won’t ask anyone to buy tickets to watch my show because I cannot conscientiously sell a product that technically doesn’t exist yet. (I’m morally uptight that way, which makes me really suck at sales pitches.)

But here’s the flyer, anyway.

I may not have a saleable product yet, but I’m not the only performer. It’s a three-in-one show, so even if mine sucks (although I’m working on it not sucking), there are still two others which are worth watching.

You can get a discount if you mention my name (Shen Qiaoyun) in the email when you order tickets. Not sure how much, though.