Musings from a bogus teacher

I am beginning to get the impression that, for a primary school kid, a teacher represents the highest authority in every given situation.

We’re on a TV set, right? Everyone knows that the director is the highest authority. Next in line is the assistant director or producer. You need anything, you ask any one of them. You have questions, you ask them.

DON’T ASK THE BOGUS TEACHER LAH.

In the past month of filming of this kids’ drama, I have been fielding questions (mostly from student extras) that should have gone to any member of the production crew, instead.

“Teacher, really write or pretend write?”
– with regards to a scene in which the students are doing a test.

“Teacher, can I go toilet?”
– in between scenes.

“Teacher, where is the char kuay teow?”
– during tea break.

“Teacher, he steal her pencil!”
– from a tattletale.

Do they even realise that I’m not a real teacher? I’m only an actress pretending to be a teacher. Yet, they consult me for everything, as if I’m the only authority in the whole place.

When I attempt to explain the situation — “That’s nice, but don’t tell me, ok? Tell the director because he’s the one in charge.” — they just stare blankly back at me as if I’ve just spoken to them in a foreign language.

Is the concept of teacher as authority so deeply ingrained in our kids that anyone who looks like a teacher and dresses like a teacher and goes by the name of 唐老师 (Teacher Tang) is immediately the authority to answer every problem and every query in every situation?

Is it just our kids? Do kids in other countries and other cultures behave the same way?

On the flip side, it can be quite heartwarming. They greet me cheerily every time they see me, like they would a real teacher. It makes me feel loved.

Sometimes, while walking around the school compound, I even get greeted by real students in the school we’re filming at, which is kind of amusing.

I don’t know what real teachers think but, from my limited perspective, I think teaching is a very noble profession because teachers carry so much influence in a kid’s eyes that they have the chance to literally shape the kid’s life.

I would be scared stiff to be given such a sacred responsibility.

I look like teacher meh?

I’m a happy actress.

I have booked a drama series that will keep me occupied till the end of June, and then some.

I have acting classes once a week (fun!).

I have many new acting books waiting to be read.

I’m happiest when my life revolves around acting. It makes me dance around and smile lots and generally make people around me go crazy putting up with my nonsense.

I thought I had lost the role because they called me like two weeks later than they said they would. So I was quite happily surprised when I was told I got the job. That’s the 13-episode drama series I mentioned in the post about measuring myself. There are plans to make more episodes if the show is well-received, which would be so cool.

Although it’s not a dream role, it’s good enough to feel happy about because it’s almost a leading role. The main leads are a boy and a girl since it’s a kids’ drama. The secondary leads are two adults, one being my character (teacher) and the other being the boy’s father. My character is also involved in a romantic subplot, so that’s one more dimension than most of my MediaCorp roles.

Me!

My teacher image. Not that different from the real me — duh — because I wore my own clothes (only for this one episode because the sponsored clothes aren’t ready yet).

This was the exact same outfit I wore to the audition. Haha. After I arrived on the set and changed into the outfit, the project manager was amused. “Hey, isn’t this the same outfit you wore to the audition?” LOL.

Fine! I’m pathetic! I have like one mature outfit in my wardrobe!

The first day of shoot went well (for me). I don’t know about the crew. I think they were really stressed out because we were filming in a primary school during a normal school day. Absolute pandemonium, especially during lunch time. Kids yelling from all directions all the time, making the sound people’s jobs very difficult.

We were prepping for a shot, and this is so deja vu-ish. I’ve been a teacher in a feature film (I Not Stupid 2), in an English drama (Like My Own) and in a TV commercial (Toyo Klic Correction Pen).

And now I’m a teacher in a Chinese Drama.

Do I look so much like a teacher? I don’t know. And the shoot came so suddenly I didn’t even have time to study the script, much less go observe real teachers in action.

I wish my dear cousin Faith were here in Singapore so she can give me pointers. I think she’s the best teacher in the world beause she knows exactly how to handle kids and kids just love her to bits. She’s got a cushy teaching job in Hong Kong now, which is great for her, but I miss her!

My kids:

Kids are so precocious these days. They are more vocal than when I was a kid myself. During the shoot, I had kids trying to talk to me even while the director was giving all of us directions.

My director (one of them, anyway):

This drama series has many directors who take turns filming different episodes, which is typical of drama serials. It’s kind of nice getting to work with so many different people. But it makes it hard to develop a close working relationship.

But that doesn’t really matter because what really matters is that I’m a happy actress!

Of kids and cuteness

I got through yesterday with only three hours of sleep. We had played Runebound till 4 am and, after my friends went home, I surfed the net/blogged until 7 am.

Woke up at 10 am to get ready for a birthday party.

The last time I saw Mr Cute Personified was when he was, like, a day old. I had looked forward to attending his party because he looks so cute in his invitation card.

At the party, I sat in a corner for the whole two hours. Justyn (proud Daddy) tried to be the perfect host and came over to rile me up a bit.

J: What are you doing sitting in a corner? Go and mingle around.
QY: It’s what I do at parties. I sit in a corner.
J: You’re impossible.
QY: I’m anti-social.

I like to think I fill a very important role at parties. What’s a party without wallflowers? The popular ones can’t shine as brightly without them, can they?

But I did get off my butt long enough to grab food and to take a picture with cute birthday boy in his cute Japanese suit.

It was a great party where I enjoyed being a wallflower at. There were goodie bags prepared for the kids. I JOKINGLY told Justyn I was a kid and that I just had abnormal cells that made me taller than I was supposed to be, so I needed a goodie bag, too.

And, horrors, he told his wife to give me a goodie bag (which had a “The Incredibles” mask in it, among other things) and they wouldn’t let me leave without it.

Oh boy.

Next stop for the day: Bone marrow donor drive at Bishan Park II.

More kids!

There was a balloon man who made balloon weapons for the kids to fight each other with.

(Some kids, unfortunately, didn’t get weapons and got pwned.)

We also took a picture with Jaywalk‘s friend, Chrissy, who’s one of the organisers of the drive.

(Some kids just keep getting pwned.)

I was very pleased with my Pristine Sword of Purity, so I got the nice balloon man to make me another in black so I can dual wield. He said I was a scary kid.

Got meh?

After we left the event, we had some time to while away before dinner, so we went for a drink. Everyone had coffee or tea, as usual, except Kell, who had iced horlicks. I think he was in competition with me yesterday for “Best Kid Imitation”. Or perhaps Kell is really a kid.

With indecisive blood (hiak hiak hiak).

Despite his nickname.

Which I better not name here for fear of brutal murder.

I didn’t have coffee or tea because I don’t like. And, since I was a kid yesterday, I ordered “sparkling ribena” (with 5% alcohol).

That was a mistake because I was already quite stoned (having only had three hours’ sleep) and the alcohol only made me sleepier.

Still, I soldiered on because we had to pick Nanny Wen’s Pork at the airport in the night. Nanny Wen wouldn’t stop singing in her too-loud kiddy voice while we played Runebound two nights in a row because she missed Pork so much. Then again, Nanny Wen won’t stop singing all the time, regardless of Pork’s location.

Nanny Wen is actually the undefeated kid champion.

To while away more time, we went shopping and I bought three used books for $5.50. How cool is that?!

I normally rent books at a rental price of $4 – $5 per book. The books I bought yesterday were for sale at $1 – $2 each. The “Cheap Sale” section had mostly crappy books and teenage romances, but I found these three that didn’t look too bad. And I don’t even have to return them.

After welcoming Pork back to Singapore, we headed to our favourite coffeeshop for drinks. (No more “sparkling ribena” for me.) We all had teh-o iced limau while the guys talked about computers (yawn) and the girls played with the coffeshop kittens.

Kawaiiiiiiiiii~~!!!

I could melt from all that cuteness.

Cast in the auntie mould

I am the TV commercial queen this month.

Okay, so mine aren’t big brand award winning commercials, but we all have to start somewhere.

It seems, though, that I am doomed to be typecast as a pregnant woman, young mother or teacher — I’ve done so many of those in the past year.

I don’t get it. Directors and producers keep complaining that I look too young, but they continue to cast me in older roles, and then go on to complain that I look too young.

Why aren’t I cast in younger roles more, then?

Not that I’m upset. A role is a role and I’m happy as hell. Like I was telling Vamp the other day, it’s okay if I get typecast as an auntie as long as I get many good jobs. There are popular aunties in Singapore wat.

Yesterday, I filmed my third commercial this month. I’m on a commercial roll!

I hope the roll rolls on into 2006.

So, yesterday, I was teacher to a bunch of pre-teens for this product called Toyo Klic Correction Pen.

According to the storyboard, I was supposed to be this stern-looking teacher with short hair and specs (a bit like my “I Not Stupid Too” look) but I don’t know why they changed their minds and made me look like this, instead:

Not much different from my regular self.

The kids complained to the producer that I don’t look like a teacher. I look more like their elder sister.

But I don’t think they really minded.

I think I have a look that says to kids: “Please climb all over my head.” Because they always do just that.

Yesterday’s bunch was no different. They just wouldn’t quit making fun of me.

“Teacher! Your handwriting very “nice” hor?!”

“Teacher! How come you don’t know how to write the maths formula?!”

“Teacher! Why you don’t look like teacher one?!”

One of the girls kept calling me a barbie doll.

But, you know, I think they love me because I play along with them and I don’t scold them. And I can make them laugh without even doing a thing.

I can be standing still and soundless in front of them, but with my back towards them so I’m facing the whiteboard, and they can still find it funny.

Kids are really weird people. Honestly, I don’t remember ever being that weird. But I do remember making fun of my teachers. Poor teachers. Thou art noble!

Yes. It was very bright yesterday. Fake sunlight.

Heatless, fake sunlight, which didn’t help much when we were freezing our butts off from the morgue-temperature central airconditioning.

By the way, we filmed that at NAFA Campus 3 and my car park ticket was almost $17.

Major ouch. I should have taken the MRT.