Wednesday, August 23, 2006

All the world's a stage

It's been a long time since I watched a Chinese play.. 真的是好久,好久。

I'm not sure...but I think one of the first Chinese play I watched was probably the play, 我在湖边等你 (I'll wait for you by the lake) by 戏剧盒 ( Whilst I can't really remember much about the play, I do remember that there was a beautiful song in it.

The theatre scene here had it's infancy when I was in the university..which was a long, long time ago. Theatres or dramas were not as common before then and many of the 'veterans' today were involved in the varsity theatres then. Karen Tan, Daniel Boey (who is today a hugely successful dance choreographer), Ong Soh Chin (who is a very respected senior editor in ST). In fact, The Necessary Stage was formed back then.

I remember the times we often skipped lunch to go to lecture theatre 13 to watch a play. It was always fun to watch somebody you know on stage. Wonder if they still stage plays during lunchtime.

Anyway, thanks to CDAC (hahaha!), I got to watch a Chinese play last Friday night.

Snakes and Lover (再见白蛇传)

Produced by ETCeteras or 海燕等人, it stars Cai Li Lian (蔡礼连) and Shen Wei Jun (沈炜竣).

It's sort of a play-within-a play, love story.

The play, "Madam White Snake" is being restaged one last time. Cai Li Lian (蔡礼连, as White Snake) and Wang Jia Yi (王嘉翊,as Master Xu) are going to get married the next day, after finishing the final night of the play. Shen Wei Jun (沈炜竣, as the abbot 'Fa Hai') has been in love with Xie Pei Shan (谢佩珊, as Green Snake) for 10 years. He has already proposed to her 98 times and has been rejected each time.

Li Lian, Pei Shan and the stage co-oridnator (oops, can't remember hwe name) have been good friends since childhood, with Pei Shan always taking good care of Li Lian.

As the story unfolds, we find out that Pei Shan is pregnant and the father is Jia Yi. Incredibly, it was Pei Shan who seduced him and yet, she doesn't love him... Her heart already belongs to someone else.

Complicated? Not really...

Boy loves girl...girl sort of loves boy...girl loves girl....

Seems everyone is doing a gay theme nowadays with the 'liberation' of the arts scene. Maybe the novelty of doing what was once taboo will wear off later.

Anyway, back to the play.

Perhaps because I did not have any expectation, it actually turned out to be better than expected.

The 3 femaale leads were actually pretty good, especially Pei Shan. The 2 male leads were so-so.... But Wei Jun drew much laughter from the audience, esepcially the children with his 'wooden' performance as Fa Hai.

However, the script was rather loose and many scenes involving the 'extras' were not necessary. Actually, at times I couldn't hear what these 'extras' were saying.

You know it's not easy being stage actor. It's very different from being in a drama or movie.

In plays, there are no re-takes, so if you make a wrong move, you have to think your way out of the tight spot quickly, on your feet. Acting before a live audience means that you get the response and reaction from them immediately. I find that rather nerve wrecking. There are less distractions in terms of sets, costumes and action, so all 'eyes' are on you. You have to ensure that you speak loudly and clearly. And whilst you should act more 'natural' in movies, it is the opposite for plays where every action have to be exeggerated.

And yet it is because of this interaction that I find plays so enjoyable.

Not many movie actors can be stage actors. But, there are quite a few stage actors who are good movie actors. Many actors who want to challenge themselves or want to be seen as credible, serious actors harbour thoughts standing on the stage eventually, someday.

I wonder if BYJ, with his habbit of "one more time" would ever do a stage play. It would be interesting, don't you agree?

For additional information on the story of Madam White Snake, please click here and here


mrs a said...

Hey there tiffany! Enjoyed the blog - My son was very active in music and plays in high school and community theatre and said every performance was a new one for each actor and night was different due to audience. I have directed several for my kids in youth group and done several performances of one and they are never the same either But then you know how kids are!

I would imagine it would be exhilerating to say the least! I am way to shy to do that - what about you? So I agree with you - wonder if wuri BaeYongJoon could? Interesting to find out, huh?

tiffany said...

Hi Mrs A

Me? I can never be an actor, much least a stage actor. I don't have the nerves though my skin has gotten thicker as I grow older. Directing plays for kids? I have helped out in a few and I agree.. it can be equally challenging.

That is why plays, especially good plays are so enjoyable. You can watch the same play, witht he same actors on the different nights and the feelings and results may be different.

Maybe one day, YJ can post himseld this big chellenge and do a play...It will probably run on for a few years....hahaha!

Anonymous said...

Hi tiffany

Don't know why but I was rather disappointed by the play though.
Maybe like what I have mentioned to you ppl the other day, my expectation for this particular drama group was set a bit too high, mainly becos we always hear about this group in the media.

Perhaps it's just like what we expect in life, if we set the target / goal too high but are unable to achieve it, disappointment will comes in.

So, maybe should not have too high expectation in life hor. =)

-the silent visitor again-

tiffany said...


Whilst I wouldn't say it's a top notch performance, I think it was ok. I do agree it could have been better. But I suspect except for Pei Shan, the rest may be quite 'new' and 'young'. Certainly, the script could have been better.

I thought it was Drama Box that's more well known?

It's ok to set high goals and standards but must also learn not to be too disappointed if things don't turn out the way you expect it to..

And don't need to be silent any mroe lah....

bb said...

sounds like good fun!

god knows the most 'cultured' thing i've been doing in recent years is... watching k-dramas :p

yeelee said...

i've not seen a chinese drama for a long time
as i had little expectations, i was surprised by the plot and enjoyed it!
if my taiwan friends didn't complain about the standard, it must have been ok right?
must thank JC for letting me and my guests have the second row seats! superb view!