Musical Strumming in Loneliness
Posted on July 23, 2016
Buds Theatre was set up in 2007, as a group that aspires to stage relatively new works and create productions with social relevance. Over the years, Buds Theatre Company has gained recognition as a place for aspiring artists and is a breeding ground for new graduates from arts institutions gather artistic experience.
IN-HOUSE SERIES 2016 is part of an intimate ‘living-room style’ series, which shares plays written by their youth theatre members followed by a dialogue session around that theme. Sharing the common theme of ‘loneliness’, youth writers Wisely Chow and Nor Narisha Ibrahim managed to present their works Hold On and The Heart is Just a Muscle respectively.
Is there a particular message you wish to send across in the plays you have written?
Narisha: I would like audiences to realise that, in spite of the pain and sadness inflicted on us by others, it is one’s self that has the strength to carry on, and that even the greatest of pains can be healed when we will ourselves to pull through those sad days.
Wisely: I have a quote which encapsulates my sentiments well, “We’ve come tonight to bring you some joy, some happiness, inspiration and some positive vibrations. We want to leave you enough to last you for the next six months.” – Mavis Staples (an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress, and civil rights activist)
Is there a particular audience you wish to target?
Narisha: I wrote this play for teenagers and young adults in mind, because I felt that it is during these years that we tend to be more vulnerable in allowing others into our lives, hence I feel that this play would speak to teenagers more.
Wisely: I would like to include everyone in the audience experience, and not restrict the experience to any particular group. I see them as the same, an active audience who considers the issues discussed in a thoughtful manner.
Hold On by Wisely Chow
This play is based on a telephone conversation between separated siblings, one of which lives and works abroad. It dives deep into exploring nostalgic memories and the discomfort that comes through indirect communication, where both siblings hide uncomfortable moments through silences and limit sharing only to joyful instances. Set around a piano and music as bonding between the two, the piece is a slow revelation of what it means to miss, be missed and how many of life’s moments take place in the silence and in-between.
What sort of stress or anxiety would be triggered by separation between loved ones and siblings in your play?
Wisely: Absence does not necessarily make the heart grow fonder, but it does make the heart more aware; aware of one’s circumstances and ability to identify and empathise with that of loved ones. This empathy and increased emotional connection creates a responsibility and higher stakes with personal choices that are made, as we are no longer in silo but connected with another human being. The inevitability of making a decision and one that is right causes the stress and anxiety.
What was your inspiration behind the dialogue between the separated siblings?
Wisely: I noticed people’s fear of communicating and vocalising their thoughts. There was a noise of uncertainty, a fear and an anxiety on whether they would be able to successfully connect with others. It dawned on me that at the end of the day we were all just human beings with eyes looking for another pair to communicate and connect. I was also interested in exploring conversation and dialogue around the theme of loneliness because talking is in direct juxtaposition with loneliness. With this observation, I developed a pair of siblings who had fallen out of each other’s lives as characters, and based these characters on intriguing conversation quirks I had with family and friends.
What message would you like to leave your audience with?
Wisely: I would like the audience to leave feeling full, full from this theatrical experience.
The Heart is Just a Muscle by Nor Narisha Ibrahim
Written in response to a broken heart, this piece addresses the healing of raw emotions from a broken relationship experienced through the perspective of a teenager. An interesting theatrical device is employed through the personification of a heart as a character– a character that brings edification and encouragement to the main character in helping her to move forward. Set around a piano with the main character’s profession as a pianist, her renewed zest for life is expressed through the creation and playing of music again
What, in your opinion, is a human being’s first response to a broken heart? How did you seek to capture these responses in the play?
Narisha: First, disbelief and confusion. I sought to capture that in the way the Pianist was not initially unable to come to terms that her lover had left her, and kept on questioning how and why it had happened to her in the first place.
How did you begin to envision the heart as a character, and through what means did you make this characterisation believable?
Narisha: The ‘Heart’ came to mind as in my own personal experience, the heart became its own person to act as my guardian and tried hard to pull me through. I attempted to make the characterisation believable by writing her as the ‘life support’ of the Pianist – a working vessel seeking the reconstruct the lead character’s broken heart.
What did you consider for to be the most important development for the girl to have attained by the end of the play?
Narisha: For me, the girl really developed her strength and willpower by the end of the play. In the beginning, she was just a broken person stuck in sadness and lost in the turmoil and despair. However, through her subconscious actions and the force of her will – largely attributed to her heart – she was ultimately able to pull herself through and rise above her emotional circumstances.
Following on from this first cycle of the IN-HOUSE SERIES 2016, BUDS Theatre Company will be presenting the following plays later this year:
How to be Happy by Amanda Leong
Rewind, Rewrite by Geraldine Wu
Untitled by Hevina Kaur
For more information on their programmes and classes, please visit http://www.budstheatre.com.