Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Wonderland, Wonderment & Bewilderment

Among my potential projects for next year is a new musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, potentially produced by an international school here that is rather renowned for their creative arts department. So recently I created a couple of demos, among them is It All Makes Sense To Me, which you can check out in the clip below:

So last week I shared this on Facebook, which, of course, allows people to comment on it. And then, something happened which led me to put up this post, transcribed for your reading pleasure below:


Many of you have been asking and speculating on the post I put up recently. Basically it was in response to a member of a certain theatre production company based in KL, who, upon seeing my demo for an upcoming project (AS ABOVE) proceeded to leave me a single-line comment:


....which brings you to this page: "how to write a musical". 

As you can imagine, I was baffled and dumbfounded by this comment. What was this person trying to imply? (To me, it's rather obvious what they were trying to I overreacting??) Do note: musicals101 has MANY pages – this person *specifically* chose to link "how to write a musical", which is not even easily located on the home page! 

First off, how many musicals have *they* written? None. Secondly, did nobody teach them common sense and artistic decency to NOT comment if they don't have anything nice or constructive to say about an artist's work? It would be akin to them sharing a post about one of the numerous projects they bring into the country, only for me to post "producing101 – how to put on a theatre show". 

It would be like you putting up a FB promo of the next play you're starring in or a new dance piece you've devised, and I reply with a scathing "performing101". Here we are, trying to show some of what we've been putting sweat and tears into creating with some sense of pride and satisfaction, only to be made to feel belittled. Insulting doesn't begin to describe it. 

See, here's what you do if you didn't think much about someone's work: don't comment. OR, if you genuinely want to support the artist, send them a private message: "Hey Nick, I listened to your demo, just thought I'd give you some feedback if I may?" I'm down with that. At the VERY least, provide an explanatory message accompanying the link: "Hey Nick, not sure if you've seen this site before but I find it a good resource, maybe you would too." I'd still go, "Hmmm what's THAT supposed to imply?" but I wouldn't be so outraged about it; I'd be able to deduce, eventually, that you might've meant well. 

What NO person with an OUNCE of common sense would do is just leave that link with no contextual descriptor. There is a way to phrase a sentence when you're trying to suggest or be helpful – they teach these things in primary school! 

The real shame is that this theatre company is seemingly respected and popular – their shows purportedly sell well – but they're also incredibly arrogant. When I spoke to them recently about wanting to collaborate, I was challenged because my proposed style of theatre "would be in direct competition with them". When I suggested doing a showcase of my work (before my No Black Tie gig came about), these uppity folks sneered, "But why? Who would want to come to watch it?" 

"Producers," I suggested. 

"Well, *we're* producers but there's nothing to entice me to go watch it. After all, who is Nick Choo?" Their inability understand the logic that this is PRECISELY why you should watch my showcase astounded me. Sheer madness! 

These are people who are "Malaysian arts practitioners" but don't believe that Malaysian theatre, especially musical theatre, can sell. In short, they're not supporters and nurturers of the Malaysian arts scene. They are ardent supporters and nurturers of themselves. 

I have a couple of regrets. Firstly, that I was so furious upon seeing the comment that I deleted it rather than let it be or screenshot it. As such, I no longer have evidence that this comment existed, and therefore cannot name this person or company since I have nothing to prove it. But those of you who know me would know that I have NO reason to convey such slanderous claims against any theatre company – not in public anyway. ;) 

The second is that, in my prior years as a journalist, I spent quite a bit of time supporting them (from the years 2007 onwards), giving them publicity and highlighting the acts they bring in. Well, you've lost my support, folks. And any modicum of respect that I had for you since we last spoke face-to-face, in light of the asinine comment on my Facebook post. 

The truth is, I'm not really angry about it anymore. Because angry would imply I cared enough to retain the emotion I felt when I first saw the comment. But it quickly sank in that these people mean nothing to me. These people, who I once looked up to as experts in the scene who I could potentially one day work with, have proven exactly how they are not worth my time or effort or talent. They are NOT WORTHY OF ME. Continuing to be angry about it means that there's some sort of value in their existence – and there really isn't. 

So why this long post, you ask? Well, because it happened. I can't prove it anymore, but it happened – hey, it's an intriguing little anecdote isn't it? And other people in the industry and beyond will still look up to them as the clever(?), enterprising(?), successful(?) producers they appear to be. But I now realise they're less than that. They're selfish, insecure and un-nurturing. I'm sure a lot of us are, but many of us also ATTEMPT to be open, and warm, and not condescending – traits that seem to be lost on these people. 

I'm moving on, peeps. Got my 25-piece-orchestra musical premiering around the corner. Got to rest from my month-long artist-in-residence at LASALLE College in Singapore, and I don't think I've sufficiently rested from our South Korean tour of Zak Zebra or the new musical workshop I did in Australia immediately after. And I've also got to plan for a potential restaging of The Edge, my Cameronian Arts Award-winning musical. 

But before that, let me spend some time reading "musicals101 – how to write a musical" because the link came from such a respected source that it MUST be worthy of my time. (Make no mistake, the site *is* a good REsource... I'm just making a point here, not gloating.) ;) Oh well, that's enough of all that. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run off to prepare for my concert staging of Follow The Light (also an award winner, in Australia, no less), which was last staged in 2010 at PJ Live Arts. No further clues to be garnered here. Thanks for reading. 


True story, boys and girls. True story. As one of my close friends recently said, "Nick: next time you wake up to a comment like that on Facebook or anywhere online, don't delete! Screenshot it. Use it as a defence in future. Hit 'pause' on reacting emotionally and think, 'I need to get revenge. Hmmm. How can I make this person feel what I'm feeling right now?'" This friend is going to make a great dad one day. Arf arf.

No comments: