Friday, 26 December 2008

Joyeux Noel 2008

we have a new addition to the family this X'mas, little Etienne!

Etienne, mummy Jennifer and daddy Emanuelle spent X'mas with us again.

My mum the proud grandma with Erin, Mila and Dani

My family - mum Nelly, sis Carol and brother Nick

One of the most exciting things about being part of a multi-racial family is that we celebrate almost every festive event. Our kids enjoy and look forward to dressing up each Christmas, Hari Raya as well as Chinese New Year and Deepavali. We host a Hari Raya get-together each year, Mum and Carol host Christmas and Chinese New Year, and we all go over to my brother-in-law Kuna's family home to celebrate Deepavali with them. Our kids need to know that what makes us unique and strong as Malaysians is how we are all made up of many different races and religions, yet everyone gets along or should get along) and have full resect and tolerance towards each other's personal beliefs. We don't impose our personal beliefs on others and don't expect anyone else to impose their judgement or standards on the way we should think, live and behave.

I pray Malaysia will have a brighter and better year in 2009, and that we will all learn to live together more peacefully, and appreciate how blessed we are to be living in a country that is fairly safe, fairly secure and economically and politically not as messed up compared to so many other countries around us.

Peace, love and happiness, to all of you have been following my blog.


Christmas hols in the Cote D'Azur, France

I've been given 12 days off from rehearsals, so i packed everyone and everything on the first flight out to France. Got here on 22nd December, was flat out from jet lag on day 1 and hit the sack by 9pm. Found myself wide awake by 6am which rarely happens. Was still pitch dark outside so i tried my best to meditate myself back to dreamland in vain. About an hour and a half later though, i was greeted by the most beautiful sight ever... dawn breaking over the Mediterranean Sea. At about 8am, the sun peeked out over the horizon and I was totally mesmerized. I'm looking forward to this short break. Missing my galfriendz back home during this holiday season, but happy to take a short break from the daily 2pm-11pm grind of rehearsals for season 3. I just have to remind myself to TAKE IT EASY at X'mas, which will be tough. Hee.

Friday, 12 December 2008

PGLM rehearsals have begun!

It's begun again... the excitement of putting on another show. The butterflies that come with the thought of people queuing for tickets since 1st October. The enthusiasm of the brand-new ensemble who have come together for the first time and joined our first day of rehearsals at Ten On Ten Studio at Ampang Point. Steve's and my butterflies trying to see how far we still have our dialogues memorized, and if we can still pull off all the songs from the show. Zahim, Malek, Pat ready to rock 'n roll with the new ideas they want to try out for season 3. Jason Voo has just walked in and wants to try out some new music arrangements. Adlin is relieved to "just" act and not have to worry about directing this season. Roslan Aziz is fired up and can't wait to tell us what magic he wants to add to the music.

It's showtime!

We kicked off our first day of getting together on 1st December, by observing 5 minutes of silence and a group prayer to ask for the Almighty's blessings so that the rehearsals will run smoothly and that we will, as a team, keep the team spirit up and bond as one through what will surely be a trying 3 months, as we try to put on the best season of PGL the Musical ever.

Then we sat in a circle and introduced ourselves. The ensemble are mostly completely new faces this time around, which brings a beautiful new energy and enthusiasm to the show. I always believe in new blood, fresh water, cos stagnant energy saps the magic out of a group that's been together for too long.

We read the whole script again, and Steve, Ida, Adlin and I are re-discovering some things we never saw 2 years ago. For this reason, it's a blessing to re-visit something and to approach it as though it were a fresh project. I guess we've come a long way in the last two years, after staging 2 seasons of P.Ramlee in KL and 1 season in Singapore, and some of us have travelled and watched many shows abroad, we've also grown and matured individually, learnt a lot more from life's many rich experiences in the last 2 years, so we're looking at things from different perspectives and different things are "landing" on us this time around. Also, after attending the StarMaker Bootcamp by Steve and Matt, we're much more aware about "keeping it real" and finding the truth in our acting. It's extremely exciting, to say the least. That's what's wonderful about theatre, it can only get better and better each time.

Maria Island, Spiky Beach and Dove Lake, TAS

I can barely contain my frustration this morning. My beloved trusty MacBook crashed on me, with all my photos of my Tasmania trip in it! Thank heavens i uploaded my favorites on my blog, or I'd have nothing to remember Tassie by, imagine!

Fortunately too, I was inefficient enough to have not downloaded my last batch of photos of breathtaking Maria Island and her awesome painted cliffs, and ! random photo of Spiky Beach and The Hazards across the water from it, with the evening's last light on the rocks at Spiky. Another favorite series of photos of mine which were probably my best ever of the Tassie series, unfortunately got wiped out in my MacBook. I thought i'd rip off one of Effendi's photos for the memory of beautiful Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain just to remind myself to BACK UP BACK UP BACK UP from now onwards... :-(

Sunday, 7 December 2008

the "Make Me A Puteri" Bootcamp

Make Me A Puteri Bootcamp - 28th to 30th November 2008

The Make Me A Puteri Bootcamp is part of Enfiniti’s Starmaker Bootcamp program, which has produced 2 seasons of the Starmaker Musical Theatre Bootcamp so far.

Our aim is to introduce young children to the world of the Arts as well as to give the girls their first feel of being in a “finishing school for princesses” in this 3-day fun Bootcamp with a “Puteri Gunung Ledang” theme. The “Puteri” Bootcamp touched on Personal Grooming and Social Etiquette, Dancing, Singing and Acting, as well as Personal Safety and Well-being, and the program is targeted at girls aged 9 to 14.

This inaugural “Make Me A Puteri” kids Bootcamp was organized in collaboration with Best Buds Magazine, whose aim is to enlighten, empower and inspire young children to achieve their full potential. I couldn’t think of a better fit.

30 young “Puteris” walked out the doors of Ten On Ten Studios yesterday with a new confidence, having learnt the art of being “Puteri”-like in the way they carry themselves socially, as well as empower them to think about their personal potential. One of them was my very own Puteri, Mila, who said she had the best time of her life, meeting so many new friends and learning so many new things.

Parents and siblings were treated to a performance by 3 groups of Puteris, who performed a scene from Puteri Gunung Ledang - the Musical, and danced and sang to “Tinta Dewa”, also from the Musical.

Before the “graduation ceremony”, the kids were

With the overwhelming response we have received, we think this will definitely feature more regularly as a school holiday programme in the future.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The passing of Syed Alwi, a real "Pejuang Seni" in every sense...


Yesterday, Malaysia lost another gem of the Arts industry, National Laureate Syed Alwi. I wish i'd had a chance to know him on a more personal level, to ask him what it was like fighting to establish a voice and a presence for Malaysian theatre. I wish i could have thanked him personally for his blood, sweat and tears, for which, along with the efforts of the other gems we have sadly lost such as Leslie Dawson and Krishen Jit, we the Anak Seni have inherited and grown from. Only someone with that much passion and a deep love for his art could have fought so hard and so long and against the odds that our artists are still faced with even today.

Thank you Tuan Syed, for your love and your spirit, may it live on and burn in in me and my other colleagues so we can someday finish off what you fought so hard to achieve.

Malaysia theater laureate Syed Alwi dies at 78

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Pioneering playwright Syed Alwi Syed Hassan, who won Malaysia's highest cultural accolade for writing seminal plays that shaped his country's theater scene after independence from Britain, has died. He was 78.

Syed Alwi's son found his body at his bungalow on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur late Sunday, a district police official said Monday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements.

Authorities discovered no signs of a break-in but were investigating the cause of death because there were bruises on Syed Alwi's body, the official said.

Syed Alwi's career spanned more than 50 years. He is the first known ethnic Malay to study theater at a foreign university, earning dual degrees in theater arts and journalism at the University of Minnesota in the 1950s.

After returning to Malaysia, Syed Alwi helped lead a 1967 coup by local arts activists against the Malayan Arts Theater Group, which was still run at the time by expatriates 10 years after the country achieved independence from Britain.

The move enabled Syed Alwi and his peers to popularize contemporary Malay-language plays steeped in local culture. In 1974, Syed Alwi wrote one of Malaysia's most respected modern plays, "Tok Perak," which depicts the struggles of an aged medicine man who roams the country.

Syed Alwi won the National Arts Award from the government in 2002 for his lifetime contributions. He is also remembered for his role as the top royal adviser in the 1999 Hollywood movie "Anna and the King," which starred Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat.

Syed Alwi is survived by three children.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

vocal lessons in Tassie with Jane Edwards


my mantra today is:



besides filling my days in Tassie with creative writing, painting and photography, I thought I'd do fans of PGLM a favor and really treat them to a much better vocal performance by Puteri, this season. Puteri needs to take some responsibility for the enhanced magic, after all! I squeezed in weekly lessons with Jane Edwards, one of Australia's most highly respected sopranos, who worked very hard to get my vocals "up to scratch".

This is Jane's bio:

Jane Edwards is one of Australia's most experienced and acclaimed singers in an unusually wide range of repertoire. She appears regularly on concert platforms throughout the country, and has performed at all of the leading Australian music festivals, including Melbourne, Sydney, Huntington, Barossa, Adelaide and Perth. From 1990 to 1994, Jane was a member of The Song Company, and she currently teaches at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Jane has given numerous world premieres, creating the role of Milena in Michael Smetanin's The Burrow, and appearing with Synergy in Jonathan Mills' Ethereal Eye (also on ABC Classics CD). She has a formidable reputation as an interpreter of early music, in frequent collaboration with our foremost baroque experts. In addition, she regularly performs lieder and chamber repertoire in association with leading musicians including David Bollard, Marshall McGuire, David Miller and Geoffrey Lancaster.

Her solo recordings include the soundtrack for Paul Cox's film Cactus, CDs of Martin Wesley-Smith's Boojum! and Carl Vine's The Battlers. She can also be heard in the Oscar winning film Shine and the Gold status Swoon II Collection. Her most recent releases include the early Italian disc Salut! (March 2000 early music recording of the month for UK Classic FM), On a Poet's Lips with Marshall McGuire, and Haydn vocal works with Geoffrey Lancaster. Also awaiting release are two discs of Scarlatti cantatas with Rosalind Halton.

Career highlights include many engagements with both the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and solo appearances with the Danish National Radio Choir and Stockholm Bach Choir. She performed in the Victoria State Opera/Melbourne Festival production of Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten, toured nationally with British baroque orchestra Florilegium, sang the Soprano Evangelist in Arvo Pärt's Passio, in the presence of the composer, appeared in recital within Paul Keating's lecture at the University of NSW, and performed with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in celebration of Peter Sculthorpe's 70th birthday.

2001 saw Jane continue her association with Australia's leading musical organisations. She appeared as soloist with the Adelaide and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Festival, Ten Days on the Island Festival in Tasmania, Brisbane Biennial and Melbourne Autumn Music Festival. 2002 will see performances with Sydney Philharmonia, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Queensland Orchestra and Musica Viva Australia.

Jane will also continue recording projects for the Artworks Label.


To my peeps…

Tiara J’s back in da house!

Friday, 14th November, I boarded my flight home from Melbourne. I must say the first taste of Malaysia Airline’s Satay and to hear Bahasa Malaysia being spoken during the in-flight announcements only confirmed how much I missed the home country. Watching Asha Gill during the KLIA arrivals video filled me with such excitement that I was so near already.

Well, I arrived the day before I had to open our second Starmaker Musical Bootcamp at Ten On Ten Studio, Ampang. Last year’s Bootcamp was run by Sean Ghazi, Pat Ibrahim and Reza Zainal Abidin. This year, we brought Steve Rahman-Hughes in early, and he brought along with him his mate, another UK-based actor who’d starred in several plays including Miss Saigon, Jesus Christ Superstar and had also worked with The Royal Shakespeare Company, Matthew Cross.

Tbc, stay posted. Meantime, these are photos from the Bootcamp…