Saturday, September 20, 2008

Book from Hell

Post By Shiyun
The night Book from Hell ended, Zai and I saw the fuzzy moon through the dark foliage of the flame-of-the-forest.

It was a beautiful closure to the show.

Thanks to all the supporting friends and family members, the production came together with too much food, merry-making and laughter. Coming from several years in theatre-making and looking at the art scene as a voyeur, I must say that it is not easy to avoid fights, especially of selfishness and malicious gossiping. However in the case of this production, although there were disagreements in the process of making, there was always regard for one another and everyone almost always talked calmly. Regard for one another, I believe, is one of the most important spirit in any kind of relationship.

dickson, sharon, zai, kondoh, woan wen, otomo, shaiful

Here goes a list of thanks.

Firstly, I thank the front-of-house ladies (Sharon, Ji Seon and friend) whose presence had made my backstage crew and production coordinator stood at the front door until 1 minute before the show started. Thanks to Charmaine too, who graciously switched duties at the very last minute and took video for us. And I shouldn’t forget our favorite person, Donna Ong, who could not be with us but had taken trouble to look for helpers.

I think the next time we have a show, we will have many people coming just to see the front-of-house girls (and not the show). This is great, but I’m sorry I forgot to take photographs of them… ….

Shaiful and Jae

Then the production team. Thanks to Shaiful, for his very, very not-shy demeanor that has brought so much jest on and off the set. Too bad we didn’t get to see your underwear this time L Woan Wen, who seemed to take a lot of pleasure out of the only show where she can light very dimly without anyone nagging behind her back. Cho, our super-hero who spent his birthday (and we only knew because he mentioned that LKY birthday was a day before) driving me and Shai from Esplanade - Ayer Rajah - Bugis - Changi. And also KK, in Tien’s words ‘a very talented guy’, who came and did some rock-and-roll shots of the rehearsals.


(I didn’t manage to take a clear picture of Woan Wen because of her paranoia of camera. She even swayed back and forth for a minute when I pointed the camera at her and I gave up)

The production wouldn’t have come together so well without sound engineer Kondoh san, in Otomo’s words ‘the best in the world’. His warped sense of humour (sending a photograph of him sleeping to introduce himself), precision in work (I’ve hardly seen a man who runs around in the theatre and keeps referring to his watch while working), fascination with lizards (to the point of climbing chairs to take photograph of them) and energy (turning dark-brown after traveling around Singapore hours before the show) simply amazed and amused us.

Kondoh at work

I also have to mention a special thanks to Kim Seng, our boss who made Book from Hell possible. All the Esplanade staff, who usually work 1 month in advance and so sorry that we are always late to give information. We can’t help it! It’s in our blood to improvise!

dickson, kondoh, otomo, kim seng at play

There were also friends and family who contributed to the instrument and set on stage. John Sharpley, who unreservedly lent us his 200-year-old Bidayu gong. Kai, who kept Zai’s very loud and noisy gong even after his cat has used it as a toilet bowl for many year. My father, who stayed up and made the metal frames at a very short notice without any fuss.

The artists. Otomo, whose name literally means ‘big friend’, has left such a deep impression being an incredibly humble yet critical person. Yes otomo-san I still remember that we have to bring you around Southeast Asia to swallow all the animals which can either fly, walk, swim or run. Erm, no artist fees!

Dickson, who has visited Singapore many times, is as accommodating as ever and has never kicked up a fuss about anything. I still can’t figure out the gadget you have that looks like you’ve trapped the spirits of tortured animals and robots in a clear box. Like Zai said, it’s attractive to girls. Very cute!

Zai. I’ll leave it to the interest of others to talk about Zai on their blogs. I can only say that you are always the life of the party and source of inspiration for everyone.

To the artists, I thank you for your professionalism and patience.

So what’s coming next? Bowl of Rice has ended in Sculpture Square. Book from Hell has ended in Esplanade. As a producer, I’m incredibly proud, and feel even more pressured to discover opportunities for these works to develop. The rest of the year should mark diligence in documenting, archiving past works, and planning the continuation of A Bowl of Rice and Book from Hell.

I will end this note with a rehearsal video clip of the very fine performance by Zai Kuning, Otomo Yoshihide and Dickson Dee.


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