Friday, June 23, 2006

An update

What are you doing this weekend?

If I were you, I'd be at Furious watching Back of the Throat. Watch out if you should write me this weekend and complain about being bored.

Read Sara's Furious blog a few days ago, and couldn't help but feel the exact same thing she's going thru (minus the baby, that is. now...wouldn't THAT be news?). I meant being in time out. The difference is - she's on temporary time out from FTC, where as I'm in a situation quite the opposite. Am not going on a self pity rant, but while she says she watches the rest play from her "time-out rug", I have no source from which to watch them play at all. BOT will be the first FTC production which I will not be a part of. In a conversation with Brad a few weeks ago, I confessed (regretfully) that I sometimes hate getting ensemble e-mails. It makes me depressed about coming home, and not being able to participate in any FTC stuff. There's nothing worse than being a part of something which you don't feel a part of.

So...thank goodness for blogs. Some days I see Christie and Damaso online and we get to catch up for a few minutes. Word has it that the production is going very well. Everyone's actually getting sleep! If that is not a good sign in theatre, I don't know what is. GET OUT THERE AND SEE THE SHOW! And please...DON'T.BE.LATE.

While every FTC ensemble member is busy slaving themselves away for opening weekend, yours truly is busy planning a weekend eating-trip for Charlene, who will be arriving in a few hours time from Hong Kong. Can't wait!

Butterfly Lovers rehearsals are going well. Am anticipating a lot of work in the coming months. There's loads to do outside of my regular stage manager's duties. Word has it that IMG has picked up the show and will be selling it as a touring production.

Last week, the directors called me in for a meeting about my 'future plans'. For some reason, they like me (...for now. I have yet shown my true self to them) haha. I decided to be honest with them and mentioned what my ideal career would be. Whether or not what we talked about will materialize is another matter, but for now, there is great opportunity for me to finally embark on a career in managing and presenting in the performing arts. While our discussion began on a somewhat modest scale of programs for next season, in no time it escalated into long term plans with no boundaries.

Also received a reply from The Esplanade in Singapore a week ago, and the Production Manager asked me precisely about my career plans. Until I came back to KL, I was quite contented with the idea of being a freelancer since I would still very much like to design. The ugly truth is that it is just not practical. We have a lack of stage managers in this city. Why? There is little appreciation for stage managers, perhaps it's more accurate to say that there is little appreciation for the profession in itself, and not the person doing the job (anyone here can be a stage manager, hence it's just 'another job') - the pay is crap, and after years of slaving yourself in the name of 'art', you will find yourself penniless, not being to afford a decent living and with no job advancement opportunities. Yes, there are exceptions and you've got to pay a price for doing what you love. But at a certain point in life, one would have to start making plans for the future. Whether you want to or not.

On a more personal note, I have greatly disappointed a close friend by informing her that I will not be present at her wedding in LA due of work. Though I may not be a very expressive person, there is a huge part of me that puts the people in my life high on my priorities. Over the years I have disappointed more people than I can keep count of, and I feel that this needs to change. While I consider work and theatre my life, there is a need for me, at this time, to start working on a more balanced lifestyle. There is no doubt that I will still jump at every opportunity to work in theatre, but for now, I'm thankful for being blessed with a chance to finally focus on moving forward with my career in the arts.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

furious theatre company
by Yuseff El Guindi
directed by Dámaso Rodriguez

Previews: June 21 - 23 2006
June 24 - July 29 2006
Tickets: $15-$30
Box Office: 626.356.PLAY
For more information, visit Back of the Throat.
Make a date with furious today!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How many dumplings can you have in a day?

Yes...there are still China posts! I realized that if I don't finish posting these, I will never get them done. Enjoy!

Friday, May 5th 2006
If you remember, when we first got to Xi'an we visited the Great Goose Pagoda (also known as Big Goose Pagoda in Chinese). Naturally, if you have a 'Big' one, there must be a 'Small' one. Hence, today we visited the Small Goose Pagoda.

See...the first characted in Chinese (from Left) on the sign says "small"

Courtyard; that's a rice blending machine? well, maybe more like rice crushing machine

This building houses a bell (photo courtesy of WW); this is called the Dragon tree and if I remember correctly, it is about 800 years old

If you think the Small Goose Pagoda is just a miniature of the Great Goose Pagoda, you are wrong. You still have to c-l-i-m-b it. And that was just exactly what we did. Though, this one's a little different...and you'll see why.

Diagram of pagoda construction

This one's for moi
So, climbing this pagoda is a little different. The height of each floor decreases as you keep going up. On each floor, you have windows (by the time you reach the higher floors, they are more like pigeon holes) on two sides of the pagoda. When we first started out, we could walk to the door-height window and look out. Soon, you had to bend and watch your head, and later (if you're like Wang Wei who's about 6'), you would start looking like a prawn...or shrimp.

Sorry...we didn't use a flash. But the picture on the left was taken on the 3rd floor, and the one on the right probably on the 6th.

By the time we reached the 8/9th floor, we were crouching.

Once you got up to the highest floor, you can choose to climb a 90 degree stairway, get out thru a trap door...

to see a polluted view of the city of Xi'an. I hope you get better weather when you visit. It's also a little cloudy today.

The Ultimate See-No-Eat (or even touch!) Food
Alright...I have seen a lot of unappetizing (is there such word?) food around the world. But this has made it to the top of my list. This man was selling some kind of caramel-looking candy outside the Small Goose Pagoda.

What he does is this: He starts with making a tube out of the candy liquid. Then he places it in his mouth and starts blowing. No, there is no stick, no straw, nothing. He puts the candy in between his lips, blows and shapes it into animals and then ties it off at the end.
Care to taste someone else's saliva? You've got to pay for it too.

...not so cute...

Drum and Bell Towers

Situated in the city center of Xi'an, they were built in 1380 and 1384 respectively. In ancient times, the drum that was housed in the tower was used to tell the time, and was struck once every day at dusk.

Bell Tower

The building is surrounded by intricately crafted panelled doors, which convey stories of legendary people

Managed to catch a cultural music performance (photo courtesy of Wang Wei)

You've got to ring the bell three times.

City view from the top

Walking thru the ancient city towards the drum tower; market

Drum tower

Check this out!

Each of these drums have different functions. They are labelled according to the weather and season - eg: "rain", "wind" and even "harvest" (i believe)

Lanna is posing in front of the biggest drum in the world.

Exhibition in the drum tower:

Food Food Food
It's lunch time again, and we're back at the food market. Okay, there's got to be a proper name for it but I can't find it in the DK guide book and online. So I'll just have to ask Ren and add it in another time.

Lunch time crowd; these grilled-food stalls are everywhere...and they offer everything

...even goat's that what it is?; candy floss; huge bread

...yes, they do display the raw meat before cooking them; fried dumplings

butcher; grilling device; anyone for goat's head? poor thing...

that's a cooking pot believe it or not; even larger bread/wrap

we had to have our grilled lamb again (trust me, eventhough the stalls may look unkempt, there is something about the grilled lamb, it's the spice they use, absolutely delicious!); No "PLUMP JUICE" today

See my smug face? It's because of what I have in the mouth

When in Xi'an, you've got to try their SIU LOONG PAU (or just called "bao zi" in China). Xi'an is famous for their paus. Apparently we're in the right place. There was a line outside the entrance into this 5-storey restaurant. And it was PACKED inside! was worth the wait.

Queue; Siu Loong Pau dipped in sauce; we had three baskets of them. Be very careful when you eat these paus. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that there is soup wrapped with the meat inside the dumpling...and it is HOT. The trick is to bite it gently on one side so that you can extract the soup before eating the dumpling.

More dumplings!
Ren invited us to visit her aunt and uncle, whom she hasn't seen in 6 years. Her aunt said she was going to make us some dumplings for dinner. was not "some" dumplings. It was "a lot of" dumplings!

We got there at 5pm. They live about 15 minutes away from the city center in a tiny flat with several other relatives. There is nothing like visiting the locals when you're visiting new grounds. You learn and observe so much of their lifestyle, it beats reading books and watching documentaries anytime.

We helped make dumplings (that's Ren and her aunts); dumpling ingredients; that's my hand...I guess my face didn't make the cut

They even made their own wraps from scratch; can you guess how many dumplings they made? Each plate had about 30. That's 120 dumplings on our table - plus more in the kitchen. No, obvoiusly, we didn't eat them all.

Stuffed. Called it an early night.