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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Boom: KLPAC play that is by no means bust

Tonight Deric and I went to see Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's play, boom, which is currently showing at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre.

Touted as "the Asian premiere of America's most produced play in 2009-2010" in the email invitation I received from The Actors Studio, I was naturally curious as to what it was all about and whether it was as great as the email had suggested.

What I found was that it as just as was described in the review published in The Star. The outstanding features of the play were its riveting, hilarious script and the splendid performance that was put up by the actors.

The play's script consisted was a colourful concoction of words, and was extremely delightful and witty although it would have been better had it not incorporated any foul language as part of the script.

It also had the most elaborate stage setup that I've seen thus far (do bear in mind that I haven't really seen many plays thus far in my life).The stage was set to look like an apartment room atmostphere and felt very believable, gave the impression that it was lived in and put frankly, looked quite natural.

The thing that intrigued me the most about it was that during an earthquake scene in the play, wall cupboards which were part of the set could actually tilt and move in such a way as to give the impression that the earthquake was real.

The storyline itself was interesting too. So was the fact that the story was being narrated occasionally from the viewpoint of a woman who works at a museum (Barbara) and is in charge of the exhibit from which we are watching the story of Jules and Jo (the play's two main characters) unfold.

Among the subtexts of the play was the topic of sex. In view of this as well as the fact that there is some indecent language in the dialogue, I'd say the play is not suitable for anyone below 18 or those who do not have a firm grasp on their faith or have yet to adopt a personal stand on what their views are regarding the theory of evolution.

For me, it was the first time I've seen sex scenes in a play. To be a bit more specific, there are several French kissing scenes in the play, coupled by a scene where Jules is heard quoting lines (while hidden backstage) that connote masturbation and also another scene where Jules and Jo are making out and tumbling around in bed intertwined (but thankfully the audience is spared of nudity, making it a tad less uncomfortable than say, movies these days).

Oh, and I shouldn't leave out mentioning the fact that even right at the start of the play, the actors are already kissing (although briefly, compared to the later bit), and Jo is telling Jules to take off his shirt and pants (put simply, to get naked so they can get on with it and have sex). 

But the main subtext of the play would be its clear pro-evolution stance, zooming in on promoting the theory that we evolved from fish. A fishy perspective, if you ask me. 

The (typically morbid) subject of the apocalypse was also touched on as part of the play's plot. But because the play was comedic in nature, it wasn't at all a grim experience for us in the audience and therefore, remained more or less still quite palatable. 

Another thing about the play is the fact that it was not adapted or localised (ie Malaysianised), but was instead performed as is. Since it was written by a playwright from the US, some aspects of the play had a distinct American feel to it. Especially in terms of places mentioned, manner of speech and expressions, and certain lifestyle traits (eg: advertising online for random sex with a stranger - but then again, I can't exactly say for sure that this doesn't happen in Malaysia; it might but probably in a more hushed setting rather than openly advertised in public).

Although this did not in any way render the production any less professional (in fact, I must say, they did a splendid, rather immaculate job with the acting and effects), Deric did point out that it was weird to have Asian cast reciting such a Westernised script and I do agree with this point of his. Perhaps it may not have been so weird if the actors were orang putih (Malay for "white people" or "Westerners") themselves.

Well, all in all, it was an entertaining play, thus it has achieved the basic purpose behind producing stage plays. Both Deric and I had many good laughs while watching the play, and we agreed afterwards that it was an enjoyable play.

We don't agree with the premise of the subtext though.

But don't get me wrong, I like fish. And, in the true spirit of a Malaysian Chinese, I especially like mine cooked with ginger.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A mind for the masses

This weekend I visited Canaanland (a Christian book store located near my house, to those of you who are not from the Klang Valley) and bought 2 books. My decision to get them was as a means of preparing for my upcoming wedding, which will be taking place in 152 days' time.

One of the books I bought is entitled Intended For Pleasure and is authored by Ed & Gaye Wheat. I had heard a great deal about this book from couples who have undergone pre-marital counselling. It is said to be a good book to read about sex in the context of a Christian marriage.

Since Deric and I will be covering the illusive topic of sex in our upcoming session with our pre-marital counsellors, Mike and Diane Constantine, I decided that the time has come for me to start educating myself on these issues and preparing to face them so I am not helplessly clueless when the time comes.

But rather than focus on my personal preparation for marriage (which will probably be a long story in itself and warrants a post for itself, or maybe even several), I wanted instead to talk about how inspired and amazed I am that the author of this book (Ed Wheat), who is a certified doctor by training, committed himself to writing a book that would help others on the very tricky and private subject of sex between a married couple.

I feel so tremendously blessed to be able to hold in my hands a book containing a wealth of wisdom from a man (and his wife) whom I do not know personally yet who share the same faith in Jesus that I have. From what I understand from reading the book's foreword, Mr Wheat has already passed on. Even greater now is the value of this book - the fact that I can learn from one who has gone before me, even to the very gates of heaven.

I am truly amazed. And the fact that he used the skills and knowledge that he had - medicine being his career - to bless others in the kingdom of God is just simply brilliant. The thought occurred to him, although there are, without a doubt, so many other Christian physicians out there who, I am sure, are equally well versed in the same discipline as Dr Wheat was.

Yet God did not speak to them to instruct them to write a book about sex, but to Dr Wheat instead. Why? Only God would know the answer to that, but for me, I can only marvel.

I wonder how he felt when the idea first occurred to him. Did he wonder whether it was a good idea? Did he wrestle with the decision for days on end before arriving at the conclusion that this was God's will for him - to write a book on such a delicate (and sometimes even taboo) subject?

Then again, I read in the preface that he also had been a marriage counsellor to many Christian couples. So I guess by the time he had set out to write the book, he'd most likely have had the clarity in his spirit to know that this was what God intended for him to do.

Whatever the case may be, I just find it so heartwarming that someone out there, across the globe, at one crucial moment in his life, realised that he possessed something that would be so useful to the masses that he could not ignore the need to do what he believed he was meant to do - write that book.

When I finally do decide what book to write, I want to have that kind of perspective in mind.

I have been mulling over what book to write for what seems like forever. There are subjects that would be all too easy to rattle on about, and there are also those topics which I feel reasonably well versed in and comfortable writing about. In other words, there is always an easy way to take as far as churning out a published book is concerned (or so I think, at least at this point of time).

But perhaps the more important question to ask myself when deciding on the kind of book to write should be this: Given the talents, experiences and wisdom I have accumulated in all these 28+ years of my life, what book could I possibly write that would offer the greatest impact and inspiration to my readers - both those in the present and maybe also in the future?

This is a truly revolutionary thought for me. It's back to the drawing board again (and I dread the thought that it may be ages yet till I finally settle on what I can and should write into a book), but at least I feel my direction being further defined.

I am, I sincerely hope, one step closer.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The weather and its ways

Good... morning.

 Such irony there is. On a morning where Deric and I agree to meet up for morning exercise, it rains.

It's amusing how the vagaries of nature can just suddenly jump out at you and foil your plans. But that's how it is, I guess. Nature is beyond our control. But it's not beyond God's.

I guess we'll just have to make the most of this cool, wet morning. Even if the exercise part gets delayed, it's still a lovely morning in itself.

To me, every morning is lovely because it's a new day. That means new chances, and a shot at new beginnings, too.

*     *     *

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not. 
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
 - Lamentations 3:22-23