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.

It’s lonely and scary up there

I’m having an unexpected break right now because we haven’t been able to sell tickets to our weekend matinees (3 pm show) so I have the afternoon off. We’ll only be staging the 8 pm shows for today and tomorrow.

It sounds sad and pathetic, but I’m secretly relieved. I was worried about not having enough energy to perform two shows a day because my performance is very, very, VERY emotionally draining. So, not having a 3 pm show will make it easier. I’m just slightly disappointed that I don’t get to test my limits. And I’m disappointed that only a handful of people will get to experience the result of all the hard work that the production team has put in over the last two months. But such is theatre in Singapore.

Anyway, I took a few pictures on Thursday, one day before opening night.

Very scary tall ladder.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ladder this tall. I feel really nervous when I see any of the crew members climb right to the top to fix lights. I’m already terrified enough climbing one of those regular step ladders that people have at home.

Producer, artistic director and crew members having a casual discussion.

Location is the now-defunct Q Bar at the Arts House. It’s one of the three spaces for our show. That long seat by the window is exactly where I was sitting when I was blogging from my DS Lite two days ago.

Poetry on the wall of the Arts House box office.

Will show pictures of the sets another time because I haven’t had time to photograph the finished sets.

Last night was opening night. I was the opening act.

All day, I walked around with butterflies in my stomach. As the time for the opening show drew nearer, the butterflies started to wage mutiny and feed on my blood and soul. All day, I tried to calm myself by distraction, slow breathing, self-psychoanalysis, running my lines through my head over and over again.

I was nervous because I felt that I still didn’t have a 100% hold on my performance. Because of the limited time we had for rehearsals, I haven’t successfully ironed out all the kinks.

Oh gosh, I feel nervous now just typing this out.

It’s a kind of crazy fear that makes me beat myself over the head repeatedly and ask myself why I put myself through this in the first place.

WTF were you thinking, you crazy bitch? *bonk*

I have no answer. I love performing so I must do it. Then why am I scared to death?

I tried to make myself believe that I was on a film set and it was just another day in my life doing a role for the camera. But I think my brain was too alert to be fooled.

It’s a very scary and lonely feeling to be standing alone on a stark, quiet stage under a flood of spotlights, dark figures seated in front of you, waiting patiently yet eagerly, demanding to be entertained, demanding that you make it worth their time sitting there to watch you.

Knowing that there’s no room for mistakes. No cuts, no take 2s.

It’s a horrible feeling, in fact.

Well, but only the starting is horrible. I started shaky because of all those thoughts running through my head which I tried to dispel but they simply hid at the recesses of my mind and nipped at me silently but consistently.

After the scary start, I could begin to enjoy performing.

I think I did okay. No major screw ups. I think my audience was reasonably satisfied with my performance.

I was satisfied. I know I can still improve a lot but I think I did the best I could under the circumstances.

On opening night, I had like 15 people in my audience. About 10 of them were part of the production team. Haha. Well, it’s a small production. Even bigger plays from bigger theatre companies have difficulty selling $25 tickets to a public bred on the fanfare and special effects of Hollywood movies, which cost only $9 for up to three hours of mindless, mainstream entertainment.

Anyway, I survived opening night! I couldn’t quite believe it. A few people said my performance touched them. I feel touched when I hear that. Funny.

And then I begin to stress again.

Can I do as well tonight? Or can I do better?

My nails suffered some abuse while I was cleaning up my set, dirtied after a full-dress rehearsal. My performance involves painting on a screen and we have to clean up the paint after each performance to get ready for the next.

During the cleaning, I tore one nail (although you can’t tell clearly from the picture because only the outer layer peeled off) and got black acrylic paint on another.

I suppose I could have tried to use thinner to clean the nail but I decided to leave it intact on a whim because it’s like a battle scar that holds sweet memories of victory and happiness.

See how it seems to have seeped into the nail.

Having supper at Lavender Food Square after the show.

Tickets are still available for tonight 8 pm and tomorrow night 8 pm. Just arrive slightly before and inquire at the Arts House box office foyer.

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!

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.

If my muse doesn’t show up, I’m dead

Six weeks ago, I auditioned for a role in a theatre production. Three actors got the job and I was one of them. Woohoo. What a happy occasion because I hardly get theatre roles.

And then Jack jumped out of the box and punched me in the face.

I had to write my own script.

For a solo performance.

(The production is made up of three solo performances.)


An insane fear gripped me. Elation at getting the job evolved into a monster that gnawed at my intestines.

I may be a good writer, in general, and even have a passing knowledge of scriptwriting techniques, but I hardly think I’m qualified to write a script good enough for a paying crowd. (If I were, I would be churning them out and making money.)

And I hate monologues. I must have mentioned that somewhere in my blog before. Probably more than once. Monologues just kill me.

Of course, I tried not to show the fear. One must always appear confident and in control in front of one’s employers. But whether or not the fear is well-hidden is another matter altogether. Some directors are so perceptive they can see right through makeup, skin and bone, right into the marrow of your soul.

I was tempted to opt out of the production. But of course I didn’t.

I’ve done amazing things before. Like cough out a 3,000-word essay discussing the sanity of Jean-Paul Sartre in one night. And after performing amazing feats like that, I can never remember how they happened. They just did.

Humans are apparently capable of more than is apparent. So I’m always accepting projects beyond my apparent capability, hoping that my proverbial muse will possess me in the nick of time and do all the work and save my sorry skin.

So it was with this mindset that I accepted this scary project. It’s not every day I get a chance to perform in a theatre production. If I pass up this opportunity, I might as well make a quick phone call now and have myself measured for a nice Brazilian rosewood coffin.

After that, I stressed over it every chance I got. I mentally brainstormed ideas while jogging, I scribbled thoughts while commuting on the MRT, I emo-ed to the Goonfather on a daily basis about how stressed I was.

One month later, I finally completed my first draft.

Relief. Mixed with a bit of shame over how long it took me.

But you can’t imagine the relief.

I went for my first rehearsal today. It was part script discussion and reading, part acting training to work on areas I’m weak at.

My mentor-director gave me a lot of food for thought, a lot of ideas. I wish he could rewrite the script for me because he has all the tools and experience and know-how. But it’s my challenge and my responsibility so it seems he can’t do that.

Before today, I was really pleased with my script. But it’s like that. When you’re elated over completing a gargantuan task, it will always look like a pot of gold to you at the moment.

Now I think my script is junk because there were so many things I didn’t consider and so many ways in which it can be improved. Ok, it’s not totally junk. It has some good points but it’s not good enough to work, on the whole.

So, back to the stressing board. I mean drawing board. Writing board. Whatever.

I’m going batty nuts psycho because the performance is two weeks from now.

Hahahahahaa! (psychotic laughter)

Now would be a really good time to get hysterical for my muse to show up and perform a miracle. But the way things work, I think she will let me stew in my own sweat for a week first, and then jump in when I’m teetering over the edge of insanity from desperation and panic. Muses are like that. They like to screw with your mind. But I guess it’s better than if they don’t appear at all.

What the hell. I’m an actress but here I am stressing over being a playwright. Where is the justice?

Besides this project, I also concurrently have other projects and tasks to stress over. So I’m even stressing over which project to stress over first.

Can’t blame a girl for getting a bit psychotic.