As performing artists and any other artists for that matter, we seem to get punished for doing the ‘job’ we love. How is that so? Well, we seem to be poor for a start. Poor only because we spend the best years of our lives creating our masterpieces. So as time is money, we miss the opportunities to make money in well paid jobs! Especially in the peak periods between 20 and 30 years old.
No one wants to pay us for entertaining them, singing them songs of joy, amusing them with our stand up comic acts, and so on. Yet some airhead, spinhead, thick head, bald head….all these heads of some organisation, state, country or other seem to get huge salaries…question is WHY? I am good at asking questions but to provide answers? who knows and who cares? I am an action woman. I am kineastheic. I learn by doing. That is what the big word means. In short, I dance. I dream too. I dance my dreams. I don’t care about verbal answers. I ACT. I find solutions for our common good, our common love of performing, which brings me to money for touring Asia. ACT goes to ASIA in 2013. We Chinese are not superstitious about the number 13.
I am dancing my dreams right now on this page. Being very action oriented (or kineasthetic) I am dreaming of taking the cast and crew to tour Malaysia. Dreams need to be translated into action plans (didn’t I say that I am action oriented?). Top of the action plan page is this word: FUN(D) RAISING.
I love the role of producer which I occupy for OMIB – why? this time I have an answer: I love money. I love making money. I love the challenge of seeing $88 turn into $880. Not much you may sneer! For ten cents more, at 0.99 cents you can buy my ebook. So turning $88 into $880 in 2 hours is a lot of money for artists. Time and money go hand in hand. But the profit margin is what we are interested in. I am not good at arithmetic. You work out the profit margin profit.
So being a producer is about raising money for my cast and crew to go on tour…no, not for holiday. Travelling to work. Yes, performing artists work. The key word is performing, as in performing assets if we are using business lingo. Artists we are but we are also workers. Working to give humanity joy, laughter and longevity. Some scientists worked out that laughter prolongs your lives, make you healthier, and definitely, unequivocally, absolutely, blissfully, magnificently, acceleratively enhances your sex life.
Come join in the ACT in our fun(d) raising trip. See you there at our next ACT!
Last night was our last show at La Mama and needless to say it was the best ever. A full house, actors well versed in every line, every gesture and in sync with each other. The crew was smooth, slid in and out of the stage changing props. As author I am amazed anew, like a child with a new toy every night. To blend what I see as Chinese culture with Australian culture, a fusion that is entertaining and theatrical is a sociologically creative challenge. Especially since many have debated these two questions: what is Chinese culture and what is Australian culture? Both questions are defiantly indefinable. In Our Man in Beijing, as an intercultural play, Chinese and white Anglo cultural elements are revealed. But what of Aboriginal Australians? Are they not Australians?
This song is probably the most famous of all tunes in Asia. It is like a national anthem that bonds Chinese everywhere. It is the signature tune of the Chinese diaspora. In Our Man in Beijing, Diana Nguyen sang it with a Vietnamese accent accompanied by Phil Trainer. There was not one Chinese person in the audience who didn’t know the song. Phil has put his own lyrics in English to the tune of Yue Liang. The most famous singer is Teresa Teng who sang Yue Liang Dai Bao Wo De Xin in China long before the country allowed a foreign person to do that. The Moon Represents My Heart, the song’s English title was composed anonymously. The first line of the chorus: you ask me how deeply I love you? (ni wen wo ai ni yu dao shin) From this profound question to the very last line, the song retains its magical and mystical quality. Yue liang ai ren, translates into moon light lover has the meaning of an eternal lover. So the song title The Moon Represents my Heart has several profound layers of meaning. It resonates with those who are moon lovers, enduring and eternal.
An awesome sell out…cast and crew were superb front and behind curtains. The rehearsals were hilarious as the new leading lady Diana Nyugen is a comdian, famous for her Phi and Me act in Melbourne. Peter Muir who was the leading man in last year’s production had to be flown in from sunny Queensland, straight from airport to La Mama. The bloops and bleeps at rehearsals seemed to disappear when the play opened. The magical mystery of real performances! what a cast and what a crew. I am not sure which i enjoyed more: the rehearsals or the actual performances. As the author of the play, I have an OBE everytime the curtain goes up and I listen to my own lines as if from another sphere. (OBE as in Out of Body Experience, not the Order of Australia).
Our Man in Beijing in the winter season at LaMama has a new leading lady Diana Nyugen of Phi and Me fame…she is hilarious, sings like an angel and so much fun to watch…
Me and Phil Trainer just completed our tour and boy! was it awesome or wot! We landed in a Great Britain that was about to celebrate the golden jubilee of QE2 and what a performance that was. But our greatest thrill was attending the Playback Theatre Festival in London and meeting its wonderful actors, directors, musicians galore from all over the world. We met the artistic director of Trueheart Theatre Company and her multi-cultural cast of talents. There is no doubt that London is the place for theatre makers. Everyday and night there is a show somewhere worthwhile going to. By sheer chance, I happened to have a cousin playing in the London mandolin festival. That was exquisite. In Margate I enjoyed Tom Thumb, the smallest theatre in the world (or so it claims) that seats apparently only 30 people, hmm.. methinks 50 or so small bums can be squeezed in somehow. I told them that Our Man in Beijing was performed in my kitchen and we managed to get 34 bums on seats! I have no doubt that our ACT is the smallest theatre in the universe! Then off to Mt Snowdia in Wales and we happened upon yet another festival but the rain and cold saw me and mine driving off in our wicked van to a warm bed in Betwsy-co-ed. Our Man In Beijing ain’t going to git there in Wales much as I adore the Welsh choir. They can keep their weather! Our Man In Beijing is off to La Mama theatre in Carlton back in Melbourne. Look out for the premier on Saturday 25th August 2012! Something to look forward to folks!
After a successful season in Brighton, Our Man In Beijing is going to La Mama in Carlton. Two opposite ends of Melbourne. Brighton is on the bay and Carlton is on the city’s edge in the heart of Little Italy. Our Man is very honoured to be performing at La Mama, the most famous of Indie theatre company with an awesome history. La Mama began life in the 60s and now lives in an old Victorian terrace that was threatened with closure a few years ago. It was saved almost overnight with the magic that is community support. The community raised over one million aussie dollars and bought the building so that the show or shows can go on! La Mama has spawned many a famous Australian playwrights who have attained international stardom such Williamson and Hibberd. Our Man in Beijing, the first inter-cultural play with Australian and Chinese elements, the first in the world, will be be performed over 3 weekends beginning 25th August 2012. Please check for updates, news and gossip about Our Man on Facebook under the Australian Chinese Theatre or my personal timeline Moni Lai Storz.
Playback theatre really is a wonderful tool if one is exploring performance pieces which are not written as yet or are so few that one is totally frustrated…that is my current situation in my search for intercultural pieces that highlight the differences among Chinese and Australian (or any ‘western” culture for that matter). I wrote Our Man in Beijing as a response to the intercultural wilderness as far as Chinese ‘western’ pieces are concerned. Playback theatre is improvisional, unscripted and spontaneous theatre. I like the unscripted bit. Just think if I could get a group of people together from diverse ethnic backgrounds in one room…throw in a few musicians…a piano, a guitar, a violin perhaps…and see what happens in the hands of aconductor, and lots of story tellers/audience and of course some actors…yes, i think we will have some “scripts” emerging out of this. YES! perhaps a series of sessions, perhaps a workshop, perhaps …let me know if you are reading this blog..
A desert city, a dust bowl, eternally shrouded in mist and that is Lima, one may think. But Lima is more than this. Musicians and actors are found all over in Lima and the rest of Peru. Everywhere we went from Lima to Macchu Picchu, music followed us, wafted beneath our noses like a lingering fragrance …Felipe and I are touring Peru. Following the successful production of Our Man in Beijing in Melbourne, we took off on a 3 month tour to refresh our souls, to rejuvenate our minds for fresh performances. Felipe busked in his usual way and i danced but these days the dances seem to occur more in my mind than body!
The ACT will go to Beijing next September for the Beijing Fringe Festival and my mind is ticking away on how to raise the money for the cast and crew of Our Man ….perhaps a concert? ah well, we will wait and see if our grants applications are successful…being a producer is a full time job…the mind never stops planning how to get some funds.
I finished writing Our Man in Beijing 2009. It was a sad moment as I just got news that my best friend died. A friend since primary school. She would have been the first to produce it in Malaysia. I returned to Australia and after several failed attempts at finding an appropriate director, Our Man in Beijing is finally opening on 18 March, directed by Wolf Heidecker. I am over the moon. The cast is fabulous and the crew is awesome. The venue is a boutique theatre space. Richard Lyford-Pike, a talented interior designer had created out of my garage adjacent to my house in Brighton. Waaaaahh as the Chinese would say: we have a theatre venue next to a pool and open air stage surrounded by bouganvilleaes, banana trees and BAMBOOS…the whole garden is reminiscent of an ancient Greek amphitheatre.
Jacy Teh built the website for OMIB almost over night under great pressure as i was so excited by the beautiful E flyer he created that I immediately sent it out to 50 friends and put it on my facebook…that was cool except that the website was on it. And the website was not built yet! My first panic attack! Second came the rains and flooded out my lovely venue!!!! Second panic attack. What’s next?