Yes, it seems today, we’re not going to talk about books, instead, something entirely different but still remains as for now one of the best nights and experiences of my life: The Night of Drama. When I became a new student in Monash University Malaysia, the first thing I did during the clubs activity week was to hunt down Monash Performing Arts Club. When I signed up for the club, I knew that we were to do a performance on Night of Drama which was to be held in Week 10.
No stranger to acting in plays, I was excited.
And boy, was I right to be excited about this!
After meeting up a few times, I was finally grouped up with some amazing people to start planning our play. We had last minute addition to the group but we welcomed them with open hands and then, we sat down, ready to start working on our script. We met up during the one week ‘break’ and discussed what to name our characters, what they would do, how many scenes we were planning to act out and we had to make sure our play was in the fifteen-minutes range; since each play had to take fifteen minutes to perform on that night.
And thus, once we had gotten the first draft of the script and chosen our characters, it was time to roll.
Only to miserably fail on the first time we performed on Monday during club activity day. It was hilarious at how much we failed at performing the very first scene itself. Though, we didn’t let that bring us down! We just shook it off and decided to try again.
Practise makes perfect!
Leading up to the moment of Night of Drama (NOD), my group known as Group 7 aka the one who played ‘5th Time’s The Charm’ practised really hard for it.
I remember meeting up almost every week and on one particular week, almost every day to nail our lines down, to discuss of costume changes, to get into character and to make last minute plot changes. We ran two full-dress rehearsals during Monday club meetings two weeks leading up to the main event and it was a relief to hear the crowd laugh at the moment we hoped they would laugh and gasp at the parts we hoped would take them aback.
My teammates did an awesome job, Mirza who played as Ken in the play, Zi Ling who played as Barbara, Madi who played as Grace, Vindila who played as Reason, May who played as Emotion, Brendon who played as Ryan and there was I, who played as Chloe.
The plot that we came up with for this play we hoped was extraordinary and amazing, and we are proud to say, it had been a success judging by the people’s reaction that night.
Behind the scenes, I witnessed many people lining up to get into room 6003 around 5:30 PM on that Monday night. It blew my mind that so many people came, hearing it from our mentors that the tickets were sold out quickly and people were still asking if they could come and watch the play.
We had worked hard on advertising the event and to see this come to life; it was amazing!
It was safe to say, due to the big turn up, everyone backstage was a little nervous about how they were going to perform that night. Everyone was busy doing their makeup and dressing up, looking like they were ready to head to war. And I didn’t blame them. I felt this fire inside of me to do the same too, to put on the best performance I could ever do. Make those who have helped us prepare for this moment: Gaviota, Jin Fua, Li Ann, Roshan and Iman, proud.
Even my teammates and I were having mini heart attacks the closer we got to getting on the stage to perform. The speech we were given just before the big event only served us, me especially, to feel extremely nervous. But nevertheless, I knew that we could do it.
There was just no way we couldn’t.
Behind the crimson veils, we were sitting in a group and rehearsing our lines for the umpteenth time since we became a team. We had it memorised and drilled in our heads that we were even joking around and making accents for our characters as we practised. Laughter to calm our nerves down.
And then, it was time to perform! As we were ushered backstage with my cake in hand and my can (Fun fact: I had chosen a purple coloured can to use as a prop but it got lost a day before NOD so I had to use a different one. And to those who had watched the play; the cake Chloe ate was real! And I wasn’t joking when I said it was delicious and everyone has to try it!), we were all looking at each other and giving ourselves encouragements to do well.
When we went on stage and performed, we were blown away by the reaction we go. The crowd’s reaction was phenomenal. I had no idea that we would get this much attention and applaud but when we did, it was like a weight lifted off our shoulders.
They had laughed at Chloe so much that Brendon and I were hesitating to say our next lines. It also almost made me break character and I had to bite my inner cheek from smiling so wide. The nervousness washed away as I got comfortable under the audiences’ eyes. And when the play was over and everyone clapped so loud that I thought I could have gone deaf, bowing for them, I knew we did great.
All of our hard work had paid off.
Even the cake that I bought just specifically for Chloe’s character had tasted sweeter when I exited the stage, everyone clapping behind us. It was an amazing feeling and I will never forget the huge
smiles painted on our faces. It was one of the best nights of my life and I am sure, it was one of the most unforgettable moments in my friends’ lives too.
And these people I worked with were amazing people. When we first met, we got along immediately. We had our own quirks and we were acting crazy together at times. We even burst out laughing so many times while practising because one or two of us decided to goof around. We were serious about practising but at the same time, we had fun. So much fun that I felt like with each passing day, we were getting closer and closer together, like one big family. Even our mentors were fun to be friends with and they would often laugh with us, shaking their heads at how weird and silly we as Group 7 could get at times.
We teased each other, joked about things and we even talked quite a bit in our group chat. We all shared one common interest and that was acting on stage and making the crowd immersed in our performance. And I can say with a hundred percent confidence, that was what we managed to achieve that night.
Now that it ended, it did feel a bit empty to go back to university without a practise session queued up after class. Those practise sessions were one of the best highlights of my day. Even when I was having a bad day, just meeting up with them and practising made me happy again.
I will miss them and hopefully we won’t be strangers.
Night of Drama had become something dear to me and I will continue to participate in more NODs if there’s more to come and make new friends (and hey, I might end up with the same people again!). To also continue to make new memories in MPAC for the ones I made this semester had been wonderful.
Thanks for the memories, you guys!
Monday, May 7th, 2018.
09:30AM After weeks of practicing, finally arriving at the day of the performance seemed almost unreal. Having had a deadline on the same day and having a near non-existent concept of time management, I’d made the (probably) poor decision to pull an all-nighter to meet the said deadline. By morning come, I was tired, yet somehow the evening’s events kept me energised.
11:45AM We had organised our last practice at 10AM to run over the last few scenes that needed perfecting. After almost two hours of practicing and figuring out specifics with a few minor last-minute changes, we felt as close to prepared as we could be. It reminded me of Robert Lepage, who, in his talk at the Banff Centre of Arts and and Creativity had said that he “[considers] the piece written on the night of the closing,” when speaking of his creative process of constantly making changes to better the performance up until the very last day.
17:25PMThroughout the whole day my mind had been twisting over my lines and movements for the performance. Finally, we made our way to 6002, which had been assigned as the hangout place for all the club members. It was adjacent to 6003, where we would be performing, and upon arrival anxiety levels spiked as we witnessed the considerably-sized crowd already collecting outside the doors. One by one, club members started arriving and congregating in their respective groups. Some were anxiously reciting lines, others merely goofed around, satisfied with their preparations. One member of the committee went around applying makeup to those that needed it, while others rushed off to apply their own in the arguably challenging lighting available in the nearest bathrooms. Committee members darted through the hall and corridors, collecting props and ensuring everything was ready and in order.
18:00PM The committee members gave us one last pep talk, and suddenly everything started feeling real as we realised – this is happening. After weeks, we can finally show what we’ve worked so hard to create and perfect. Our group sat on the floor and recited our lines together, even though we were sure we had already memorised them by heart; at this point it was probably more of a coping mechanism than anything else. I double-, triple-, and quadruple-checked that I had all my props, and knew which ones to bring on to which scenes, as well as when I would need to change outfits. Again, I was certain I knew all this already, but the repetition was comforting and warded of any threat of anxiety-related blank outs.
18:40PM To avoid going insane from the wait, we snuck into the performance hall and watched the first performance. Our group was scheduled to go third, so luckily, we had time to kill. Seeing the full hall only amplified the anxiety we felt, yet it was joined by a sense of pure joy at our achievement – a full house! The pressure and motivation to do well was now fully active in our heads.
19:05PM Our group moved into the small corridor between the two halls and we sat waiting to perform. There was a moment of silence as the seconds until our performance dripped away. When I pressed my fingers on my neck I could feel my own heartbeat racing, which I relished as a sign that I would have no shortage of emotional energy to harvest from in the performance. When the previous group left the stage and our performance’s props were set up, we stood in line at the entrance to the stage and I felt my mind switch into performance mode.
19:15PM The audience was amazing, and far more responsive than any of us had anticipated. As scenes of humour and twists unfolded the hall filled with the roar of laughter, gasps, and shouts. We were taken aback by the response, unsure of how long we should wait before attempting to say our lines over the noise. At the biggest twist in our story, I could feel my hands shake in the adrenaline rush brought on by the bellowing crowd as I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of pride which felt somehow not unlike panic at the same time. Although I was undoubtedly sleep deprived, I could not feel a drop of it in my veins.
19:30PM When our last scene came to an end, and we had bowed and rushed offstage laughing, overjoyed in our accomplishment, I was absorbed in the joy of the moment despite the seeming blur of faces congratulating us, and my mind remained present, attempting to absorb as much of the moment to be stored into a memory photograph; an unforgettable, exceptional experience. Already, I could sense the presence of nostalgia which will continue to grow as the days begin to push this memory deeper into the seas of the past. I can do nothing but wait anxiously for the next event to come.
*the pictures used in this post are taken by Siti Zainab Abdullah and are used with permission from the person who are in the pictures.