To Play & Write: Putting Pen to Paper
I have decided to postpone my sleep for about another half hour because I felt like blogging about writing. Thus, this will be my second entry in a day, which is uberly miraculous as I've been updating my blog sporadically. In any case, here goes.
I suppose my love for writing has been stemmed from young when I first started reading. As a child, I had loved listening to my parents telling me bedtime stories. Soon enough, I started reading at an early age and I grew up with Archie and gang. Sure, there were the Enid Blytons.
Then, when I was in primary school, I started reading R.L. Stine and his Goosebumps series. I was so into them that by Primary 3, I was writing a series of horror books of my own. Sure I never did get the chance to complete but I actually managed to write out at least 5 short stories, all of which are still with me today.
At Primary 5, I had also started off my own newsletter, which didn't go beyond 3 issues or so but still, to think that I had thought of that at that age. Come to think of it, it did appear to be a bit of a tabloid as I was writing about stuff that had to do with the people in my class or around us. Oh what fun it was.
And then when I went into secondary school, I was given the opportunity to write a skit for the stage. That I did with Iskandar but strangely enough, the desire to write for the stage never returned until much later. There wasn't much writing except for my compositions as I had ventured into public speaking, hosting and performing.
However, it was in Secondary 3 that I discovered that I had a knack for writing poetry and at that moment I also knew that this was the form of writing that I was most at ease with, the happiest with. And for the next few years I continued writing and as of today, I've written close to 50 poems.
While I felt most at ease with poetry, it wasn't until I had reached the tertiary level that I found the form of writing that opened doors for me. The form of writing that has been the root of my current endeavours. Writing for the stage. And despite my sudden shift towards the world of scriptwriting, I managed to squeeze in a period where I wrote poems vigorously churning out one after another and when the scriptwriting finally kicked, the poetry had to take a back seat.
Given the opportunity in 2004 by my then-seniors, JY and Fadhil, I wrote a 30 minute script called "Bottled Dreams" that opened the show alongside their work, "Hide It. "Bottled Dreams" also happened to be re-written on two other occassions over a period that stretched the next 1 1/2 years. The success of my second staging of "Bottled Dreams" drove me to greater heights and soon enough I embarked on my biggest show to date, "The Ides of March - A Musical".
I tackled a literary great, kept to most of his work but also changing and adding certain scenes in at the same time and the next thing I knew, I was developing the script over a period of 4 months. The musical was staged to an audience of a 1000 and as fate would have it that night, it turned out to be a more magical one as I was then introduced to the Musical Theatre Society but more on that later.
While the scale of "The Ides of March" was extremely large, in June of 2005, I also started up Yellow Chair Productions with Zul and Iskandar. The first ever writing responsibilities fell onto Iskandar and I, reliving the partnership we shared in late 1999. The result was "DysFUNctional", a funny and campy skit staged at 2 different community clubs.
During the production of "The Ides of March", I also happened to write "Broken Wings" for a HIV/AIDS Youth Convention by World Vision and Ngee Ann Poly's School of FMS. Although it was a skit, I decided to go with a more serious and dramatic approach at discussing AIDS. Fortunately, the result was a success and it was staged over the next 2 days that followed "The Ides of March". I had also felt that it was my best work to date.
To round off the year, I assisted my friends from Temasek Polytechnic in writing a piece for them to perform at Magus Luna, a night of self-expression, which was done by the drama club. And to kick start 2006, I re-wrote "Bottled Dreams" in a frantic rush against time as well as squeezing in co-writing duties with Stefan and Lokman on "Basket!", a script we have yet to film till today.
In March 2006, a script that I wrote and was semi-devised by our actors, "Tainted Flower" was staged to an almost sold out audience. It also happened to be Yellow Chair Productions' Inaugural Play and thankfully, the reviews were positive. It also marked the most complex script I had written and don't think that I could do something like that anytime soon.
Ironically enough, at the end of August 2005, I had sworn that I would never write a musical again. The resolution was short-lived thanks to Dr. Kenneth Lyen and the Musical Theatre Society who encouraged me to write a 90 minute musical which was then compressed into a 45 minute one. The process was arduous and taxing but by late March 2006, "Closer to Your Heart" was staged as part of a double bill show at the Arts House to a sold out audience.
The success of "Closer to Your Heart" has spurred me to write another musical in conjunction with next year's Musical Theatre Society programme. Similarly, I am also developing a script for Yellow Chair Productions' next annual performance in 2007. There is the possibility of squeezing a skit or maybe even a play depending on the progress of the offers this year. Otherwise, I would have to step off the wave to serve the nation intesively for the next 4 months or so. Once I have settled in, it would gear me up to write again and hopefully in 2007, if things go to plan, 3 scripts of mine would be staged as part of 3 major events.
Till then, while I take this temporary and forced sabbatical from writing, do keep on reading what I have. I promise to come back with more.