It was a dark and smarmy night…

Sometimes, in life, I make such weird decisions that I wholeheartedly support to the end. In some cases, I can actually switch my allegiance e.g. Hillary Clinton. At the end of the day, when she lost the nomination, I was completely crushed but I could switch my allegiance to Barack Obama. Not quite wholeheartedly…yet.

However, when David Archuleta lost American Idol (yes, I know, I actually watched American Idol…hey, I’m in Asia, it’s boring and any show is better than no show), I had to admit, I was crushed. So…isn’t appropriate that his first song is called “Crush”? It’s the most teeny-bopper song on the planet. Yet, I love it.


I met up with my friend Shahira a few days back after not actually meeting for her ages. My dear friend, dear as she might be, has a reputation for being super tardy, so even though she said let’s meet up for tea cum dinner at 5:30pm, she arrived at 6:30pm. This was despite knowing how late she was going to be and I aimed to arrive at 6pm.

So I sat down at the cafe for a good forty minutes with a cup of coffee trying to look…well, comfortable. You know how there are some people who could just sit down alone in a restaurant, having a meal, without having a care in the world? I’m not one of those people. Despite having the ipod, and my notebook out to write prose, I kept looking out the door as though hyenas were out to get me and I had to bolt out of Secret Recipe as fast as possible.

But Shahira arrived finally and we had a great time. Shahira is one of those super-hardworking people that I love to hang out with, so that their discipline would somehow rub off on me. She’s doing three exams back to back and she’s some sort of accounting wonder. Like really, I’m not being sarcastic. Anyway, I’m still hoping that wonder discipline would rub off.

I told her about what I was doing, the play, the novel and hopefully, fingers crossed here, another play next year.

“As producer?” she asked.

“Yeah, as producer.”

She shook her head in dismay. “You never learn, do you, Adlina?”


In honour of the Bulwer-Lytton contest:

I did not submit this, I did not even know the contest existed until recently when I was surfing around online. The point of the contest is to submit the most smarmy opening line to an imaginary novel. A quick one, in honour of the contest from me. Don’t mind my comma friendly attempt. It’s supposed to be one freaking line!

Romance/Science Fiction:

It’s been months, no, years since Roger left Annie yet every night, Annie imagined that it was his arms that was holding her, his fingers that were caressing her, his kind eyes gazing into her soul for really, that was the only way she could tolerate those grey creatures with those big black unblinking eyes staring at her, touching her with their spindly fingers and using pointy metal objects on parts she did not want to imagine since her abduction.


Doing Things the Hard Way

The Livewire Motto: If there’s an easy way and a stupid/hard way of doing things, by God, Livewire will do things the Stupid Way.

The Stupid Way ought to be a trademark of Livewire. Looking back, it was absolutely amazing how things went spectacularly wrong on production week itself. When Eizwan commented Murphy was having a field day, Noah retorted: “Murphy didn’t just have a field day. Murphy did Lady Luck doggy style”.

But even more amazing was that we came out alive, our spirits high and with a show that we can be very proud of.

So…how insane did things get at COTC?

1. The venue

Setting up the venue

Pictures courtesy of Alex

AF had been more than kind and helpful for helping an unknown theatre company. But it’s not a theatre venue and so it lacked chairs, lighting, sound and a proper background. After Wednesday’s dress rehearsal where I was so distracted by the backdrop: a badly painted door covered with old French movie posters. It didn’t look like an office, it looked like a ratty kampung house about to be torn down with our old furniture.

The next day, we insisted that we covered the backdrop, so 8 hours before the premiere, the production crew bought black cloth and then we proceeded to do the very difficult task of taping metres of black cloth to make our very own black box theatre.

After hours of working, my co-producer Louisa finally came around and said “So, why didn’t you guys move the front curtains to the back. It’s not like we use the front curtains!”

The Ghetto Black box

Wai Keat yelling at Valerie. Picture courtesy of Sani

2. The Damned Closet

The Said Closet

We bought a cheap ass closet for RM 159 (about 18 pounds or about 50 dollars). The closet is cursed, it had already made a scene in Jusco by flying off the trolley and falling onto Yazmin‘s foot. But it also refused to stay still. It was the most flimsy cabinet in the history of mankind. Each time our actors got into the cabinet, the production crew held their breath. Despite SIX brackets, 20 nails holding the bloody thing together, Wai Keat and Marvin still managed to trash them on Saturday night. And it wasn’t like they were trying. It just fell apart on stage.

I think I nearly broke down that night.

3. Cutting scenes

This was perhaps one of the scariest things we’ve done. The final scene was just too long and we noticed that energy levels kept falling at the scene. So Louisa, Alex and I decided that yes, perhaps the best thing to do would be to cut down the final scene.

Scary as shit, we only had two hours to practice the new final scene and it was absolutely flawless. But I think it’s a testament to our actors’ talent.

4. Tech

Our tech crew

Eizwan and Noah: The little boys club. Picture courtesy of Alex

On Saturday night, where everything was just going to pieces, the lighting decided, “What the hell, I’ll just join in.” Midway through the first Act, suddenly the lights refused to switch off. The director had to sheepishly come on stage whilst the actors stood there, frozen in the semi-darkness, to draw the curtains.

Awkward much. This was after our walkies started to misbehave and pick up random voices through out the entire show.

5. Greg – The Phantom of the Alliance Francaise

Resulting Creepy Light

Batu Belah, Batu Bertangkup. Picture courtesy of Alex

On Sunday, after a traumatizing Saturday, the production crew got together to paste 50 pieces of sugar paper all over AF to cover whatever light coming into AF for our matinee show. Yes, it’s a very ghetto production, we know.

Anyway, the production crew gathered around, stapling booklets and taping paper up and we spoke, in hushed tones. “Do you guys…feel a presence?” we ask. And yes, we do. We noticed that our hair would stand at the back of our neck as we walked upstairs and how unwelcoming the place would be at points. The walkies misbehaving on our worst night was probably an example.

As we spoke and suddenly the lights on stage switched on. I shouted “Hey guys, great work with the sugar paper! The lights look fantastic!”

To which Eizwan popped out from backstage and said “We didn’t switch on the lights!”

Aaah. I see.


Our most successful show: Sunday matinee. The actors were perfect whilst the crew was perfect. The delivery was flawless and I didn’t see actors on stage. I saw characters on stage and the story unfolded very well. My face hurt from smiling so much and my aunt came up to me, nearly in tears from how proud she was on how well the play turned out.

I’ve learnt a lot and I can honestly say that I’m grateful for everything, including the things that went wrong. If we had a flawless production from the beginning, we wouldn’t know what to do or how to climb back up when we get knocked down. We were a strong team, a team that kept smiling right up to the end.

Amateur theatre is not glamorous. It’s hard work, it’s hard physical labour that involves carrying bottles of water, cans of Coke and moving about heavy furniture. It’s about managing creative and very passionate people. It’s a delicate balance of efficiency and dedication to our art. It’s about respecting the audience and respecting our craft. And I’m learning that theatre, writing, acting and production is making the intangible tangible and real.

It’s also about close friends, a strong stomach and an iron will. The comments can break you and the sneers are heart breaking. It’s about standing tall despite the odds stacked against you. It’s about living off fries, diet Coke and lots of coffee for energy. It’s about hugs and holding each other and propping each other when one falls.

But when you see the light in your audience eyes and your vision come to life, you know it’s worth it.

Looking for a Patron

A few weeks ago, one of my dear sponsors called and asked me for a wish list on what I would like and they’d get back to us. But of course, since then, they’ve disappeared of the face of the planet and our kooky production team of five has been struggling blindly in the dark and surprisingly, hey, we haven’t fallen into a river yet and drowned. So there is some hope for all of us yet!

There are though, moments of darkness that passes through my soul occassionally and this morning I got up, feeling wistful and a little sad about some of the things that we’ve had to do. We’ve done plays in the UK and I think in terms of difficulty, I think Malaysia ranks as one of the most difficult for independent productions.



Anyway, so this morning, I was sitting down and watching Sabrina, the one with Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn (yes, ENVY ME PEOPLE, I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR WITH MY OWN TIME AND I BOW TO NO OFFICE TIME, MUAHAHAHAHAHA…ahem) and I was thinking, how incredibly, incredibly wonderful if I had a Linus Larabee who could easily lend his name to our production to make it more “credible”. Ah, well. Shame on me for not kissing ass, sucking up, make nice to all the big-wigs in the country earlier. Do I sound bitter? No, no, not at all. Not bitter at all.

I suppose if you could look at it from differing points of view, I am inevitably, arrogant and full of pride. I’m like Darcy from Pride and Prejudice…save for the wealth and not being a man and not bearing any resemblance to Colin Firth at all. I should have been able to consort (or at least scrabbled my way and tried) with the upper echelons of society and therefore making it very easy on me to be “known”.

On the other hand, considering that I did not choose my parents very well, and that they are merely hardworking yet very unknown business people, I’m still back to square one. I’ve nothing to offer them and therefore, they have nothing to offer me. Actually, now that I put that way, my greatest error is dating Eizwan who is also from a family of hardworking yet very unknown business people. See, I can’t choose my parents but I can choose who I choose to date. Damn me for falling in love with a good yet unknown person.

So this morning, I started day-dreaming about the various people in Malaysia and otherwise that I admire ridiculously who I think I’d collapse from joy if they decide to “endorse” me. So on with the list:

1. David Tennant

Because he’s Doctor Who. If Doctor Who endorses me, I don’t care if the play doesn’t do well. Because dammit, I’ve been endorsed by the Doctor himself. I consider myself having been made.

2. Russell T Davies

I stopped writing creatively for ages until I started watching Doctor Who. And suddenly, it came back and I really have to say, it’s all due to this man. I admire Russell T Davies greatly. For those of you who aren’t familiar with his writing, he is the executive producer of Doctor Who and he wrote the critically acclaimed series: Queer as Folk.

3. Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham

Because I think these two come as a pair. Or at least I hope they do because they’re incredible together. Ashley Pharoah graduated from the school that I can only dare to dream about: NFTS. The two of them created and wrote Life on Mars and my current favourite: Ashes to Ashes, worked with the team at Kudos who created Spooks and Hustle.

Alexander McCall Smith

For writing the Number One Ladies’ Detective series.

Looking through my list, it looks awfully pretentious. It isn’t really. They’re all British. Unless liking British thing is all pretentious. And they’re all TV related. Would it be a horrible thing now to confess that I don’t really read that many plays? Yes, it would be. I’ll shut up now.

Ah well.

Anyway, I’m still looking for a patron. So, if you’re a great writer (playwright is a terrible bonus, actually writing skills isn’t that necesarry), terribly good looking (because I am terribly shallow) or you’re just famous for no apparent reason (this like Keanu Reeves, heck, if you’re Keanu Reeves, BE MY PATRON NOW!), please message me and I’ll make you my patron. You’re not going to make much money out of me but at least you’ll feel really good about yourself, helping a struggling theatre company in a third world country do well (alongside with your other various charity commitments). Now, imagine how good that sounds to your friends? I help poverty and art in the third world.

Smug marrieds

I think there’s a severe risk that this blog will be one of those incredibly tiring blogs that details about weddings, weddings and more weddings that I have attended over the years. And yet, here I will be detailing about another wedding. Well, two.

Yesterday, I attended yet another of my cousin’s wedding, Fendi’s wedding before running back to KL all the way from Tanjong Karang to attend Joe and Fani’s wedding. No pictures from the latter because, after a while, all weddings start to look and sound the same.

Which is, as always, unfortunate, for the happy couple. All happy couples want their wedding to be extraordinary and unique, some going through greath lengths and detail to make theirs absolutely special. But after attending over 10 weddings in the past two years, all start to sound and look the same save for the dancing swans or the offensive MC here and there.

So, perhaps this is the most sound and logical argument for marrying early. Be the first amongst your friend to marry, that way your wedding will always be the most unique and pretty one.

I’m not being fair to Joe and Fani and I’m starting to sound like a jilted lover. Amusingly enough, this was certainly the first wedding I’ve attended where there were more than a few jilted lovers. Most of them behaved themselves relatively well…which, all things considered, was a shame. It would have been fantastic if one of them were to run up to the altar and started wailing, “No, Joe! Marry me!” or, more likely, since the bride is so pretty: “Fani! Dump the oaf and marry me! I know you just married him this morning, we can ignore that unimportant bit, but we’re a modern society! Marry me instead!”

But the wedding was just so lovely and perfect as the bride and groom were, that even jilted lovers behaved themselves. The shame. I think that was what bothered me a little about the wedding, that it went so well, that it was almost perfunctory. All good weddings should have a drama of some sort. Ones that include, the brother of the bride calling his sister a slag that ought to be disciplined by her new husband (I’m paraphrasing here). And the mysogynist went on and on for half and hour. I don’t think he caught the look of horror on the guests face.

Despite the dour mood I’m in this morning, I actually had a fantastic time. I was determined to have a good time and saying hello to all my friends who I’ve not seen for ages. Some of them (the ones who do not read my blog, haha! So good to have an unknown blog) have unfortunately turned into smug marrieds, a term coined by Helen Fielding of the “Bridget Jones Diary” fame. You know the ones, who eye at you up and down and remind you how small you are for not being married and having a husband (“But, but I have a boyfriend! Doesn’t that count?!”) and they start comparing their pre-pregnancy weight to their during-pregnancy weight, just to make you feel worse than you already do. (“God, I’m so fat now that I’m pregnant. I’m 56kgs now!” – If she wasn’t pregnant, I might have slapped her silly) and spending time with bachelors who were having a great time explaining why exactly Joe has such a big grin on his face that evening. And what exactly was he going to do about it.

See? This kind of conversation would never happen with my UK or AES or my SC friends because all of them would have slept with their prospective grooms/bride before the wedding night.

All in all, lovely but tiring day. And it is Sunday and today, I start the day off with going to the play practice, attending Joe’s side of the wedding, going to Philip Wain before worrying once more about funding and money. And ticket selling. I think part of the reason why I’m giggling so much is because I’m so stressed about the play. I pray, pray, pray that we’ll be able to cover cost and get some funding. *Collapses from the stress* Poor Eizwan had borne the brunt of my stress.

God, weddings, Philip Wain and then working on a play. Gene Genie would say I’m a posh bird alright. Or a ponce. I’m not, really I’m not.

Malaysia Night 2004 – Help me here!

God help me. I co-wrote something in 2004 for Malaysia Night, Warwick University but for the life of me, I can’t remember the title of the play! I know it wasn’t my best but dammit, for posterity and anal retentive sake, I need to remember the title of the play!!

Those who CAN remember the title of the play will be rewarded with cookies. Like seriously, for real cookies. I’ll bake them and post them, for goodness sakes. What was the title of the damned play?

Venue, venue, wherefor art thou my venue?

So the trick about putting up your own play in KL is getting a venue. And to actually have the foresight of booking a venue about 6 months in advance. Because to suddenly go on a whim and feel, “Hey, what the heck! I’m gonna put on a play next month!” is just not a good idea. In fact, it’s heart-attack inducing.

No worries though. We’re almost there in booking a venue.

But, should you need a consultant for a venue in KL, you can always call on me. I know every single theatre, auditorium and lecture theatre in KL after this little sojourn of mine.

Production meeting today:

Our evil accountant Yazmin sat down with us and made the artsy types face to the realities of running a play. That meant number crunching, from phone bill claims to petrol to even pizza dinners for actors. After pulling TEH EVILZ CALCULATORZ out, the number came up to a whopping…well, a lot. It crossed the RM 10,000 boundary, a boundary that I hoped we’d never cross.

It was amazing that I didn’t faint really. But certainly the directors and producer turned white as sheet as the cliche goes. But it’s a bit like exam results. Best to get it out of the way.

On other unrelated but very important news:

‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ the TV Series will premier tonight in the UK! It’s directed by the recently late (I think this sounds like an Indian term, but I could be wrong) Anthony Minghella. It’s a shame none of my fandoms seem to enjoy the novels. Can’t squee about it with anyone cept my mom.  I hope I could download it tomorrow!

Operation Pester Chinese Boys

So today was the first rounds of auditions. I say auditions with the plural tense because we’re still missing out on two Malay male characters and one Chinese male, a very big prominent part.

The title was said that way because it just sounds so much better that way. It’s like that infamous penguin forward that went around for a bit where you keep poking and poking and poking…

But I digress. Auditions today were very good. The energy around the room was fantastic and we found two very talented actors. We did raise our eyebrows a bit, wondering if people are willing to do this as a “labour of love” since well, these kids were really good and almost professional!

I love our script and I’m cracking up at the actor’s interpretation of the characters. Even as I’m giggling away, I can’t help thinking that it’s a bit narcissistic of me to be laughing away at our own script. Then again, you can’t be in show biz without being slightly narcissistic.

Oooh! Oooh! Guess what! We have our very own company logo now. Wanna see?

Livewire company logo

It’s beddy time for me. I’m hoping I’m going to dream about the 80s again. 80s stuff is making me very happy. And think about Gene Hunt. Whoa, can’t believe I said that but after Episode 6 of Ashes to Ashes, I can’t help thinking, phwoar! This man is a hero!