Monday, April 23, 2012

This shall become a relic of my past. A time capsule of memoirs. No more.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

CDP 438 Entries #6- #10

After the first preliminary presentation, I found that the presentation of Hakim and Russell were somewhat lacking in what they were trying to present. I suppose I was a little too preoccupied with directing the minute details of blocking and stage movement (since I was afraid of things becoming too stale on stage without movement), that I had forgotten about the entire vision that I had for the piece – that is their death scene. This excerpt that I chose was supposed to be a re-enactment. So in choosing to focus on the intricacies and the insecurities of poor directing I had overlooked my original vision of having Russell and Hakim cast in darkness illuminated only from waist up. My intention was to create a disembodied feel to convey their deaths. However, given the limitations of the space the idea was shelved.

Indeed, after the first presentation I was forced to relook at the piece again and to explore new ways of staging with my original vision in mind. The message in conveying that vision was not clear enough in my directing. I then recalled while we were reading through the script in the earlier parts, the stage directions mentioned two corpses being laid out on the ground with the soldiers acting around it. I then decided to have the actors laid out on the stage, much as if they were being pulled right out of a morgue. I decided to take a departure away from realism because after all you don’t have dead characters talking in realism and directed it in a more stylistic manner with more concise blocking. I realized that I had to create a very strong impression of death and along with it create a very strong sense of regret for both Russell and Hakim.
I want the audience to realize the horror of their misunderstandings. It would also bring their deaths full circle as we can understand it better given it mirroring the earlier death scene in the play. I want to audience to realize that their deaths were not the result of the race issue. I also want to portray more poignancy to this scene because we only fully understand the circumstances of the deaths now. Even more so evoke a sense of pity because despite understanding the issue at hand, audience as well as the Russell and Hakim are powerless to change their circumstances.

To do so, I would need to draw the audience’s attention to the fact that they are dead. Therefore, in the final presentation I decided to have Hakim mime the removing of a cloth covering Russell’s face, the kind that would be pulled over one’s eyes when one is dead. Their movements are also supposed to be rigid and still, as if they are slowly waking up and suffering from the effects of rigor mortis. Their voices are also mechanical and dead. I wanted the audience to know that the conflict they had was more personal, so I had Hakim mount a pressing verbal attack on Russell, in terms of picking up in speed, anger and intensity as the duologue moved on. Russell seemed moved to defend himself as well as he questions his own objectives. As the duologue moves to a climax, the audience realizes that these are not racist slurs being thrown at each other. But rather how their personal dramas are being coloured by the colour of their skin, something which they never wanted when Russell says: “Everyone down here wears the same coolour, even our fucking haircut! Everyone has equal treatment here”. This rising action is mirrored by the actors movements as well, as they slowly stand up to push their point. Hakim too acknowledges Russells ignorance and cultural insensitivity: “You dragged a dog to lick that Malay trainee, sir. That’s my fight with you. Not because he was punished, sir!” this matter is much deeper than just the colour of their skin that the outside world perceives, they do not see the intricacies behind Russell and Hakim’s actions. All of which I tried to explore here.

After Hakim’s last outburst, it becomes crystal clear that both parties have explained their behavior, and Hakim has acknowledged that it is more a personal insult to the religion due to Russell’s ignorance, rather than a blanket racist hatred that Russell had for the Malay trainee. At this point Russell sits down leaving Hakim standing, with this frame I wanted to portray they idea that Russell has subordinated himself in relation to Hakim as he says: “I said I am no longer a ‘sir’”. The shift of the duologue appears at this point as the intensity winds down. They both slow to their original monotone pace and lie back down on their backs. This is symbolic as it points to the resolution of their conflict; it also provides the audience with a resolution with regards to the play itself. Their final apology would echo the audience’s reactions as well. Hakim pities Russell while he apologizes for the furor that his actions have caused. That they are both powerless in death and the chapter between them comes to a close.

All in all, I feel that there are two things that are integral to being a good director. A good directorial vision as well as to have good people management skills. It is a rather interesting kind of relationship between actor and director. As a director you realize that the actor is a vessel for you to communicate your vision. But they have their own flavor that they add to the piece that you are directing; often they can give you some things you have never thought of. A performance is as much a director’s vision as it is a creation of the actor. It is the melding of these two creative minds that create the performances we see today. Indeed “No book can ever adequately describe director-actor working relationships. The chemistry is as complex as humanity”. I’ve been directing a few hall productions; just had a third one recently, but this would be a more formal approach to directing. I guess I have been focusing more on the actor’s perspective in directing, rather than maintaining the director’s own vision in directing. As much as I should be asking “what is the character trying to show” I should also be asking at the same time “what am I as a director trying to show”.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

CDP 438 Entry #3-5

Entry 3

Now as we move on as a group to the more technical aspects of directing. Some worries plague me as I work both as an actor and a director in the group with Ziting and Sophia. We are done with blocking Ziting and Sophia’s parts for their scripts. I’m about ¾ done. I learned a few things, directing is less an art or technique – rather it is the art of communicating what you want an actor to portray. I agree, there’s only so much to directing, the next step is to convey that desire or director’s vision to the actor.

I’ve managed to read some of the readings. Finding the central image, emphasize the conflict, create tension and hence drama. I have identified the theme of misunderstanding. I tend to direct with cause and effect, using it to flesh out motivation of what a character wants and why he/she wants it. However, even I sometimes have trouble finding the motivation for the separate characters. That’s what stumped me, I couldn’t finish the blocking, partly because I don’t really understand the character’s motivations. I get the theme and idea and all but I can’t seem to put it onto the stage.

Entry 4

Theory is one part, but creativity and vision forms the rest. The majority.
I need to find out what Hakim and Russell really want from this exchange between them. I feel that somehow Hakim still has quite an amount of respect for Russell his former superior. I think that’s why they needed this confrontation, to thrash things out and not leave matters as they are – a misunderstanding of race as it looks like from an outsider’s perspective. I feel as if they needed to provide some kind of catharsis for the audience in this scene, and evoke an even greater sense of pity because the matter is only resolved between them. But as least it is a resolution. This respect is evident when Hakim still addresses him as ‘sir’, not because he was being sarcastic, but because he pities the rash decisions made by Russell that led to the misunderstanding. When the Hakim and Russell express regret over each other’s actions – it points to a kind of redemption for both characters as they move on to a better place.

Now it becomes clear to me. They just needed to air their views as to clear the misunderstanding. With this clear view and recognizing that directing through inner motivation is going to be difficult because they are girls and haven’t been through NS to know what it is like. I decided to direct through physical action alone. Physical behavior triggers an emotional response. With that I’m pleasantly surprised when the actors began to give me feedback on how they felt when they did a certain action. Directing is all about people management and communication and my artistic vision is what keeps everything in line.

Entry 5

We watched many productions of classical Shakespearean works being adapted by other theatre companies each with their unique flavor or presentation – without sacrificing the story. It is interesting to note how native culture would influence Shakespeare so vividly. In essence, the themes that Shakespeare employs are universal human emotions. The tragedies of Macbeth, Hamlet and Othello are not bound within cultural frameworks and are thus open to interpretations or rather cultural adaptations by Chinese, Korean, Japanese as well as Noh Theatre.

Perhaps when we should ever meet with obstacles in directing, we could refer to other adaptations. But what if it is an original work and there are no references. I guess we can only draw from our own experiences or ask our actors for their input and craft it together as a whole.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

CDP 438 Entry #2

Words catch me and they have a certain power that grapples. When I was reading Charged, all those NS memories came right back. Not that anything bad happened, on the contrary it was a lot more agreeable than I imagined, it was fair to say the least, just do your fair share of work and you’ll be fine. Which was why this gross misunderstanding between Hakim and Russell intrigues me so, reality is much plainer than what people often imagine it to be. As I summarized in class, it was a gross misunderstanding that got coloured. The scene I chose captured me because to me this was the crux of the entire story. A kind of acceptance between the two major protagonists, but there is also a sense of immense pity as despite knowing that race was never an issue, their deaths have set off a disastrous ripple throughout the country which they can never hope to heal. It highlights the fact that people take racism as a reflexive defence against whatever wrongs being done to them. Racism effectively became the convenient scapegoat for the fire that engulfs Charged. There is conflict because of miscommunication, and that is all revealed here, however, it is a pity because this accord between no longer has any bearing on the direction they play is taking – because they are dead. Only the audience would know.

Monday, January 30, 2012

CDP438 Entry #01

To put it succinctly, it feels as if a director is like the conductor to an orchestra. There are so many elements one has to coordinate just to reconstruct a story from scratch. The 6 basic questions of who, what, where, when, why, how are the basic needs a director has to address.

I will be working with Sofia and Ziting to recreate scene 3 and scene 4 of Charged. The first thing that came to mind was how we were going to double up the roles with more characters than actors. To me that is an issue that can be solved with some experimenting and logistical planning. The deeper issue for me was, from an artistic standpoint, how as a director, will I able to create convincing NSFs out of these two girls who has never been through National Service.

The challenge for a director seems to be how he is able to communicate the exact motivations he wants for the actors to portray in their characters, all this despite the disparity in their experiences (me having been through NS, and the girls not knowing what it is like). Our group will be meeting before class on Friday to decide how we will answer the 6 questions.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I just wish

I just wish that I could be all that you ever wanted.
Now I need to move on but I don't know how.
What do I do and where do I go from here?
Sometimes I wish that the tears would flow.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Every fiber of my being
Is infused with thoughts of you.