Lifestyle

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged): An amalgamation of humour, brilliance, and creativity

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) , aka “TCWWWSA” (yes, it is a mouthful) marks my first live show in over 3 years. Amidst all the ups and downs of the pandemic, watching this gave me some sense of normalcy. But I digress, walking into the theatre laden with flashing neon lights and the thumping bass of Electronic Dance Music was not quite what you would expect walking through the hallways of the KC Arts Centre. Feels more like stepping into a club, It was rather apt given the stage setup and creating a light-hearted atmosphere. 97 minutes and a surmised version of 37 plays, seems like an impossible feat at first glance, especially with a four-person cast. Playing a multitude of characters from the likes of Romeo and Juliet to Antony and Cleopatra, it was 97 minutes of pure enjoyment, with a slight Singaporean twist to it in certain parts.
The stage setup comprising of graffiti adorned walls and the steel structures juxtaposed with the traditionally dated works of Shakespeare was kind of giving us the signal that there this performance will retain some aspects of modernity. The show kicked off with a slightly exaggerated and perhaps inaccurate overview of Shakespeare’s background by the talented quartet comprising of Erwin, Dennis, Tia and Shane. Mainly for the laughs of course, after all it is a parody of his works. Now, here comes the fun stuff, a truncated re-enactment of Romeo and Juliet ending this bit with Romeo attempting to pry the bottle of poison from “Juliet” to no avail. As Juliet tells him “I cannot, Rigor Mortis” in the syllable timed, distinct Singaporean accent which we’ve all come to love. Sprinkling a little bit of home in Shakespeare. I like that.

Then came your not so average cooking show. Now Titus Andronicus is arguably one of Shakespeare’s more gruesome works, but the cast made it a little more palatable by incorportating some humour into their gruesome narration of the infamous pie (do google the plot at your own risk). Prior to watching the show, never in a million years did I expect see Othello performed as a rap. When the quartet burst out looking straight out of a 90s rap video. Decked out in fur jackets, gold chains and sunglasses, that was pretty eyebrow raising and a little unexpected. In a good way of course, just goes to show the unpredictable nature of the play as they zoom through the most essential parts of the Bard’s works while keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

The cursed Scottish play, also known as Macbeth, was what I would call, the ultimate parody. Performed as a folk song with tartan prints, fake beards and over the top Scottish accents. Had me in stitches, but the best was yet to come. The histories were presented in a rather unconventional manner. It’s not everyday which you get to see two cast members poking one another with what resembles honey dippers in red paint. However, their brilliance showed in this segment. With Dennis on the violin accompanied by Tia’s rapid-fire narration. Erwin and Shane timed their movements to each crescendo, decrescendo, and pizzicato of the violin. I will admit, I hardly caught much of it but the preciseness of this definitely caught my attention.

The cast saved the best for last, with Hamlet, rather appropriate considering that it is his longest play after all. With only a couple of minutes left out of the allotted 97 minutes, it creates a bit of a thrill among the audience knowing they’re pressed for time. They delivered though, performing the truncated version of Hamlet in double speed and even allocating for time to do it in reverse. Think rewinding a show or a movie but swap out videos for the cast doing it in real life. Definitely not an easy feat to do, especially if you take into account speaking in reverse.

While the run of this show has ended, I’m glad to have been able to catch it on its very last night. Watching this has reignited my interest in theatre and if anyone would like to see the OG version of “TCWWWSA” I would suggest searching up the Reduced Shakespeare Company. While it was an enjoyable experience, my only gripe would be that I would have preferred slightly more drawn-out version of the histories. It felt just a little bit too truncated for my liking. Sure, you won’t walk out of the theatre as an expert in all things Shakespeare once this show ends. It is not meant to be a crash course of all of Shakespeare’s works. If you enjoy slapstick humour and exaggerated interpretations, this show is for you. Would I watch this cast in action again? For sure, especially if they were to produce an actual music video of Othello performed as a rap (unlikely, but one can always wish).

Overall Rating: 8/10

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Lifestyle, Personal Musings

Zoom Theatre Review : A story of society’s darkest flaws and our “new normal”

2020 has turned our lives upside down in many ways as we all know it, with live performances coming to a grinding halt for more than half a year, it is making a gradual return, yes, but in a much different manner. I have to say, I least expected to be sitting in my bedroom watching a play over zoom, but it does come with certain perks. I get to enjoy it in my PJs, I’ve got popcorn at my disposal, but most of all, it is simply convenient. The Contract by the Haque Collective combines aspects of our “new normal” and the entire play centres around multiple zoom calls and face time calls. With telecommuting becoming increasingly commonplace, the play encapsulates the “new normal” of work while putting the spotlight on society’s darkest flaws. While the pandemic has brought out the humility in many, the age old problem of profits over people continues to rear its ugly head, albeit in a much nastier way.

The play was a little unconventional I’d say, but in a good way, it wasn’t exactly a livestreamed show, which I expected but I enjoyed the creative use of zoom. Who knew that zoom would soon become our bread and butter as the year progresses and an entire play using zoom? That’s some zoom-ception going on ( Apologies I wanted to crack a joke there) . Now, the play not only reflects society’s dark side, but certain everyday problems which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The disconnect from loved ones, lack of a work-life balance, strained familial ties, these things have always been a part and parcel of life. However, for some as they are separated from those close to them, or in some cases, stuck with them, these issues become even more glaring.

I have to admit, Rachel’s character did irk me initially, especially with her discontentment over Jane taking on a higher paying job as opposed to continuing to help out with the family business. I did find her statement about her sister profiting from COVID, to some extent I may have thought that she was probably jealous of Jane, but as the play went on I started to understand her perspective better. One of the most pivotal moments of the play was when Jane found out of her father’s passing over a facetime call with her mum, and not being there for him in his final moments. I guess this puts a lot of things into perspective, oftentimes our work commitments or our own lives takes precedence over spending time with loved ones. Especially so when we get older and face more commitments and responsibilities. That particular scene hit hard for me honestly, in most cases scenes are just scenes when watching a production, sure they evoke some emotions, but not to this extent.

It wasn’t quite feelings of sadness or anything like that, but it just made me think about the relationships in life, beyond just making an effort to see someone physically or checking in on them. I’m pretty sure finding out about a loved one’s death over a video call isn’t the most ideal thing, but for many in other parts of the world, it’s their reality as many countries go back into lockdown and social distancing restrictions separates people.

Here comes the real highlight of the play, the refusal to shut down the production line after it was discovered that one of the factory line workers had contracted the virus. I get the frustration of the management and the key actors involved in the day to day operations of GloveCorp. The supply chain disruptions, the loss in profits from a production shutdown, the logistical and operational hassle of quarantining the workers and carrying out contact tracing. Yes, as much as we don’t like to admit it, money makes the world go round, and the crux of the issue always circles back to money ultimately. Yet again, this puts things into perspective, over how many are treated as expendable in these circumstances, as many conglomerates continue to ignore the safety and the health of the people for the sake of maintaining profits.

The kicker as the fiasco unfolded was when Jane sent a whistleblower email using her work email. “Why Jane, just why?” That was what I thought to myself. But hey, where would be the fun in all of it if they were shut down immediately? It wasn’t the wisest move from Jane yes, but even though her carelessness did not lead to a happy, resolute ending, it showed another side to her. The part of her which was kind and compassionate as she took the effort to check in on Sandra, the part of her which continued to stand by her own values despite the pressure from others.

This pandemic has been the biggest game of improvise and adapt and I have to say, this was really enjoyable. While I’d like for more productions to come back in real life, The Haque Collective has aced the whole improvise and adapt thing, I mean when life gives you lemons you make lemonades no?

Verdict: 8/10

Would I watch something similar again?: yes

Do I want it to potentially become a mini-series? A la True Detective, Unorthodox etc.? Sure.

To everyone out there, that’s all from me for now, am glad to have something to pen down before 2020 ends. It’s been a huge rollercoaster of a year, but stay safe and stay healthy guys, every cloud has a silver lining.

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Lifestyle, Personal Musings

Out of the frying pan into the “new normal”

After months of countless Netflix marathons and seeing the same three faces, there’s finally some “normalcy” in Singapore, now life is not going back to pre coronavirus levels for a long time. So for now, dealing with the “new normal” shall suffice, small group gatherings, mandatory mask wearing, getting kicked out of bars by 10:30pm , no more premier league live streams nor live performances, but hey, take what you can get.

Now I think everyone is tired of hearing of the devastating impacts of the virus so I guess I shall share a small snippet of what my “new normal” consists of. School Zoom University is officially in full swing, hello deadlines my old friend, you have not been missed. Finally gotten the chance to catch up with friends and satisfy some of my cravings without having to spend a fortune on delivery fees. Life is a little bit more exciting now compared to seeing the same three faces everyday. The Netflix marathons still remain though, despite Singapore’s somewhat paltry selection of shows, if you dig deep enough, there are bound to be hidden gems that will leave you glued to the couch as you go through another nightly binge.

Some days are spent watching travel vlogs on YouTube and giving myself the “fomo” syndrome, only to be reminded that borders are closed and leisure travel is not resuming anytime soon. Oh well, I guess living vicariously through these videos shall make do for now . Maybe it’s prime time I started appreciating Singapore a little more after years of whining about the lack of things to do here. I have to admit, the rona has become the biggest game of improvise and adapt. When you don’t have access to the luxury of travel to neighbouring countries or certain activities, time to get creative, and try new things, including playing D&D with a bunch of internet randos over national day and trying to not let each other starve.

As much as we all long for the pre-covid days, life is going to change very drastically once the pandemic blows over. At the end of the day, every cloud has a silver lining, even in these trying times, I hope everyone is able to find some kind of positivity to tide them through. For now, stay safe and wash your hands, there’s always sunshine after the rain.

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Shakespeare in the park: Is it meant to be the last of this production?

Shakespeare in the park is an event for Shakespeare lovers and those who are new to him as well. With a modern twist in Shakespeare’s renowned works, it appeals to audiences of all ages ranging from the young to the veterans.

Romeo and Juliet tells the story of two star crossed lovers entrapped within the rivalry of their families. The Singapore Repertory Theatre places a contemporary touch to a Shakespearan classic while still preserving the beauty of the Old English Language. The actors delivered a stellar performance in portraying the characters and kept everyone enthralled throughout the play. The stage setting did indeed complement the outstanding performance of the actors. Filled with sick props such as an elevated tower, motorcycles and guns, it’s something anyone would least expect in a Shakespeare production. However, it is undeniable that it was pivotal in adding to the dystopian twist on Romeo and Juliet.

Overall, it was a spectacular night under the stars. Despite the pre pubescent teens constantly sequaling at the raunchy scenes, and Romeo’s appearance. Romeo was actually a looker, no denying that. Being my first time at Shakespeare in the Park, and that it could be the last, it’s noteworthy that they’ve decided to end off with Shakespeare’s most renowned play. Should it be the last? No, the Singapore Repertory Theatre should still be given the opportunity to showcase their talent and add to their repertoire of Shakespeare’s works.

The cast of Romeo and Juliet at curtain call, credits to Nicole for this picture (:

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Lifestyle, Travel

New Year’s Resolutions

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year! It’s time to start on  a clean slate and hopefully become a better person. As always, the New Year means New Year’s resolutions, however, most of the time, they are left dusty and unloved like the dusty teapot in your kitchen cabinet. Ah, poor new year’s resolution, I do not wish to set your hopes up on fulfilling your resolutions, but it’s the bitter truth.  Hopefully, 2016 will be your year and you’ll be able to fulfil those resolutions for once. If you’re unable to do so,hope that 2017 will be your year, as we continue to tell ourselves. However, for now be optimistic and here’s to a wonderful year filled with new adventures!

-Chelle

 

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Lifestyle

Memoirs of a girl with flat feet

Dear Readers,

All that fuss about my feet, I never imagined that one day my feet would send the local media into frenzy. It was an awkward feeling as the adage goes; I was abruptly plunged into my ‘15 minutes of fame’. Well, the press interview wasn’t as glamourous as I envisaged.

It all dates back to when I was in Primary 1, I was taking ballet lessons then and used to admire myself doing neophyte ballet routines in a light pink leotard and tutu. Looking back, I was definitely suffering from delusions of grandeur.

However, a meeting with my parents and ballet teacher revealed something that surprised my parents and I. I was unable to tip toe properly! Therefore resulting in an appointment with an orthopaedist. At the appointment, it was revealed that I had bunions and it was the root cause of me being unable to tip toe properly.

Looks like I’ll have to say goodbye to prancing around the stage in a ladybird costume. I admit, I was rather saddened by it. Insoles were ‘prescribed’ and resulted in a limited choice of footwear in my primary school days. Well, by being limited meant mostly stuck to ‘New Balance’ shoes since most shoes wouldn’t fit onto those insolent insoles.

Well, I had to stop ballet and my parents decided to let me have a go at learning to play the piano instead of ballet. Oh, it was quite a good choice.

I still felt the sense of pride the day I was able to play Mary had a little lamb on the piano with my own little fingers. Moving on, I continued on a regimen of various insoles over the next few years in hopes of correcting my bunions. By Primary 5, I had an appointment with another orthopaedist. Who discovered that I had flat feet too! Call that another piece of news? This is tantamount to a recipe for disaster for an 11 year old. Turns out that both defects were unrelated. Furthermore, the only viable option at that point in time was surgery for my flat feet. Given my age, it felt as if doomsday had arrived. After the discovery of my condition, yet another discovery was made, my spine wasn’t actually straight! Yep, doomsday has definitely arrived. Fate has officially bestowed on me to go through a battery of X rays and an endless stream of doctor’s appointments.

Let the appointments begin! Round one of appointments starts off with Professor Wong Hee Kit at the NUH department of Orthopaedics. He told me that the condition for my spine was called Scoliosis and that my flat feet could have relations to it. Professor Wong then referred me to Dr. Tan Ken Jin who was a leading specialist in foot and ankle surgery. He gave a further assessment on my flat feet condition thus marking the second round of appointments. Then came the X rays, I was sentenced to a battery of back and foot X rays. Dr. Tan assessed my foot X ray and the verdict was given that surgery was required. I could practically hear the bells knelling internally at the thought of doomsday arriving.

 

Several months and appointments later, the day of the surgery arrived. I was surprisingly unfazed about going through it, okay; I was a little bit scared. There were several surgeons there, who kept asking me what my name was. I was getting annoyed and actually wanted them to proceed with the surgery immediately. After asking me for my name a countless number of times, they proceeded to outline the place where they were going to make the incision. I just stared at my leg and thought about those medical documentaries I saw on TV. I was then placed under general anesthesia for the procedure. Hours later, I’m awake and ready for discharge from the hospital and left to hobble around on crutches.At the same time being placed in an ‘air cast’ boot for the next 6 weeks. I subsequently attended my school’s Primary 6 graduation night hobbling on crutches.

Six months later, they performed the same procedure on the right foot. The second time round went better than expected since I was prepared for what was to come. It was approximately two weeks after the surgery when I was contacted for an interview regarding the procedure. Obviously, I was puzzled about it but went ahead with the interview .It was the same day I learnt that I was the first patient to share my experience with the media . I was ‘attacked’ by a bout of questions by the journalists asking me about the surgery and what I hoped to do after my feet were fully healed. My ’15 minutes of fame’ didn’t go as planned. Instead, I found myself repeating words like some broken record. An article was subsequently published. My only presence in the article was my name and a one-liner of me saying that I hoped to take part in activities such as relay races once my feet were fully healed. I went through all the trouble with the press just for that one-liner!

In addition to an article, a TV interview was conducted and I chose to stay anonymous for the interview. It was then revealed that I was not exactly anonymous as they promised, thus signaling trouble with the press. Following the incident, I was sentenced to a lengthy phone call with a journalist who kept apologizing and rambled on incessantly about the lighting of the venue and functions of various TV’s. This only gave me the urge to hang up on her in order to cease her incessant rambling.

My feet are now fully healed and I can now engage in many sporting activities. Looking back, I find it laughable that I dreamt of attempting to balance on 6-inch stilettos when I can let alone barely balance on  2 inch heels during performances with my school’s Chinese Orchestra. This marks the end of memoirs of a girl with flat feet and the story might continue with memoirs of a girl with scoliosis.

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Lifestyle

Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

I admit, I am indeed very late in terms of reading the book or watching the movie. The hype on this has died down more or less, though this book is labelled under mystery, it does not fall into the same category as the likes of more renowned mystery authors like James Patterson. Instead, Green takes you on a written scavenger hunt rather than describing the process of how bodies are being chopped up. The book mainly centres around Quentin or Q who supposedly thinks that he is madly head over heels for Margo Roth Spiegelman. Margo is a rather intriguing character with a penchant for disappearing to various places within the United States and leaving clues in order to instigate hullaballoo among those around her. Margo’s latest disappearance causes an even greater uproar even though readers might think that those around her should be accustomed to it. Overall, I found this book an enjoyable read, Green takes readers on a written scavenger hunt as you go along which adds to the mystery of the book. Furthermore, the themes were relatable and I enjoyed Green’s use of humour toliven up the written scavenger hunt. I shall not reveal too much about the book, as I do not wish to spoil this book for any impending readers. The book isn’t too pricey either, so for anyone looking for a good read these holidays, paper towns is a good one to pick up.

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Lifestyle

The end of the O Levels

The dreaded O levels are finally over. As a form of celebration, I went window shopping with my good friend . Rather than patronising pricey cafes,which would undoubtedly see an increase in sales figures from students shelling out money on their overpriced products. Having completed my O levels means that I no longer have to endure the constant nagging from my teachers. I can say goodbye to teachers pounding on our classroom door at 7:45 am in the morning waiting to be gifted with their homework. I shall not delve into the details of how my O levels went, because that’s been over and done with. Overall, I felt pretty good about it, and may the force hopefully be with me when I receive my results next year. For now, I’ll focus on treasuring the freedom I have been beqeauthed with before reality slaps me in the face.

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