In all honesty, Smeagol was supposed to write this post 2 weeks ago as a “the first WEEK of rehearsals” but instead he got busy fighting the procrastination monster and here we are. Still, writing this post during our break in rehearsals offers a good change of pace and chance for reflection. Apologies for the rambling nature of the post.
At the first rehearsal for Moon, I was initially overcome with a sense of being, for lack of a better word, whelmed. I wasn’t over or under-whelmed, a sense of normalcy took me, these were just a bunch of people sitting in a room and talking but it wasn’t just that. No, when rehearsals began in earnest, I began to understand why Theatre is such a different medium for telling stories from simply reading from a book. At the risk of sounding more terribly cliche than I already do, listening to people bring intonation and emotion into the script brought out so much more than just looking at symbols on a page. It gave me a glimpse into the process of bringing these characters and their world to life.
Speaking of the world of Moon, who could forget that Goh Poh Seng set his play in what might be the most tumultuous time of Singapore’s short history? Adeeb insisted that we had to visit the exhibit of “Witness to War” at the National Museum and I don’t think he’s been more right on anything (maybe more things, I have a terrible memory). Dominic and I went to see the exhibit and it was invaluable in getting a sense of the kind of world our characters inhabited.
Spoiler alert: It was not pleasant.
It got us thinking; what does it say about the human condition if even in a time like the 1940s where the world is swallowed by chaos and conflict, people; family no less, can’t look past the deeply set bias and judgements ingrained in their views to band together.
Which brings us to the cornerstone of Drama: CONFLICT. Dominic was, and I think still is, a staunch believer of exploring the “edgy” sides of Moons’ characters. While I didn’t like the idea of all the characters being thrown into what I initially saw as a social-battle-royale. I’ve come to see it as much more nuanced and layered. We all have our dark sides, and what’s life without a little drama.
In the most recent rehearsals, something struck a chord with me. Ah Huat is the character I identify the most with. Right from the moment I read the script, I felt like I knew exactly how Ah Huat felt at every moment in time. I too am the youngest in my family, I too know what it’s like to be compared with older more capable siblings, I too know what it’s like to feel a deep disconnect with the people around us for being different. I used to be filled with a deep idealism and hope for the future; the last character I played was literally called “The Old Dream Crafter”; and I think that a part of me still is. That part of
Smeagol Ivan found a kindred soul in Ah Huat in his “Moon Talks” the same way Huat himself looked at Choo Leng (See pic above^). Ah Huat gave me a glimpse back into myself, something I am deeply grateful for.
On the flipside from Ah Huat, Lian was a character that took me completely by surprise. In the script, I originally just saw her as Ah Seng’s shadow, a foil just to compare the other main characters to. When I saw Lynn’s take on the character though, my opinion did what the people in the SAF call a “Ke Blakang Pusing”. I loved how Lynn’s portrayal changed Lian into a fierce, independent soul who fought for what she believed in whether in love or in life.
These characters from Moon have all evolved so much from our initial understanding of them simply from reading the script that Goh Poh Seng put down. All this life being breathed into the characters was an amazing sight to see and experience throughout all the rehearsals so far. None of this would have been possible without the cast all taking such an active role in shaping their characters and adding so much to the creative discussion. Moon is looking better and better with each rehearsal and it’s all thanks to the creative team as well as all the cast members!
Finally, my time in rehearsals has taught me that Theatre is, at its foundations not just all about the serious drama, there is, after all, a comedy mask too. And so, what are rehearsals without goofing off and having fun.
I leave you with just some of the fun moments.