So it’s Saturday afternoon, right, and I’m, like, chilling out in my room, right, listening to, like, my fav mp3s when the Banana messages me saying she’s, like, got this really cool lobang for me, yeah, like this easy hundred bucks for two days work, right, and all I gotta do is, like, help out for some show or something, right, and I say yeah, sure, cool, thanks, and she’s all, like, wow okay, yeah, so, like, come on down on monday, right, and look for, like this awesome Stephanie girl, right, who’s, like, in charge of the event, right, and she’ll, like, update you on the groove, man.
I only found out when I, like, got to the dump that the Banana had, like totally played me out, man.
The show was the launch of the SPEAK CHINESE CAMPAIGN (and the awesome Stephanie girl turned out to be this woman with the emotional range of a hamster, only whilst a hamster’s is turned to “cute” hers is stuck at “pissed”).
And their motto this year? Hua2 Yu3 (Chinese) – Cool!
… urrr no loh.
It was a pretty simple show, really. Couple of performers whose prop requirements consisted of tape markings of their starting positions on the stage. Guest of Honour was the Prime Minister himself, a sign of our Nation’s-Attitude-Regarding-the-Importance-of-the-Chinese-Language, which was something of a security bother, but since he was known to be a punctual guest with few requirements it was s simple show.
Except for the fact that it was the launch of the SPEAK CHINESE CAMPAIGN.
And that all the rperformers spoke Chinese.
And that I was the runner in charge of making sure the performers got on stage on time.
And my spoken Chinese has been described as sounding like I come from one of those regions of China where not only do they speak in some Mongolian dialect but because of the intense heat and lack of water people only utter sentences once a week so as to prevent loss of moisture from their lips.
BETRAYED!!! BY THE BANANA!!!
When confrontational SMSes were sent, her cavalier reply was:
What’s wrong with that? It’s supposed to be for people who are chinese yet refuse to speak chinese. Perfect for you!
I couldn’t respond for a while. And I realize I don’t know how to operate the Chinese SMS messaging system on my phone.
Anyway, the show went pretty smoothly. I was pretty busy throughout, so didn’t get a chance to snap any pictures. Here’s one of the SPH choir, which was evidently so bad that it was preferred that the MCs made idiotic chit-chat on stage than that they should perform another song to kill time before the Guest of Honour arrived.
I didn’t think they were THAT bad. I guess if you’re going to have a bunch of people who probably practice one a week you should be prepared for somewhat lower standards. On the other hand, getting them to move anywhere or do anything was a nightmare. Use of language was restricted to Chinese, and they were mostly rather old people who ignored me when I told them to put their bags in the area prepared for you. My admiration for the stage manager, who was able to gently coax them to do anything, knows no bounds.
The other acts were mostly kids doing some Chinese skits (shi1 ge1 lang3 song4), though they’ve eveolved from the standing around and talking since I was a kid to include a little live action. Some of those kids had like 50 lines to remember, and performed them flawlessly (albeit not really with emotion). Some oft hem were 7 years old.
Keanu Reeves should be ashamed.
Of note was one particular group of students, who were suplpied with costumes for their performance – garish caricatures of rapper outfits, replete with large t-shirts, caps, chains and baggy pants (remember? Hua2 Yu3 cool?). The teachers and students were not pleased.
The teachers wanted the kids to tuck their shirts in and wear their caps the right way, in an effort to make them look more decent. The kids rebelled against the idea but (I think wisely) realized that they looked more like something out of Hey Arnold’s than Fifty Cent.
They wanted something more form fitting – possibly so that they could look more like Jay Chou, but the organizers were adamant! that they stay in their rapper-like fittings. In the end, everyone was unhappy when the kids went up without their caps or chains, with their shirts tucked into belts their teachers forced them to wear around their waists and with their hair neatly plastered to their heads. It was the worst possible outfit they could have gone up on stage in, considering their performance was a stirring piece about the grandness of Admiral Zheng He’s voyage in perfect Chinese prose.
Hossan Leong, one of the presenters and an Ambassador for the Speak Chinese Campaign, spoke of his humiliating experiences having poor spoken Chinese, and how Cool! and convenient it was to know how to converse in the language. I’d have found him a more convincing ambassador if I hadn’t sneaked a look at his lines to find hanyu pinyin instead of the original chinese characters. Sadly, whilst he stole the limelight, his co-host, Leelian (some small-time singer in Singapore) was largely ignored by the media, had to sit with us (the stage low-lifes) after the show. I felt rather bad for her, especially since she seemed such a nice girl, playing with the kids and all. Hossan didn’t seem to like the kids much.
Finally – my stage manager, whom I think I am in love with. As a runner, my main job do all the small things that no one else could do (on account of being too famous – though I forgive Leelian, she had too much makeup on to move much) and getting the performers to get on stage on time. This was a simple task made difficult only because all performers have a tendency to believe that they are the most important people in the world even when they’re ten years old and are surprised to find that the low-life stage-hands don’t have their hand cream for them so that they don’t appear on stage with wrinkled fingers.
I was pretty much an inefectual, hand-waving mess, but my stage manager managed to direct everyone here and there without much fuss, speaking in a tone of voice that I believe has to be practiced and raising it only when those horrible children refused to don their cool! outfits. He also managed to get the choir to put their bags in the proper place, which earned him my eternal gratitude and admiration. Most importantly, I think he was the only person who didn’t glare at me during the entire course of events in a hostile or demeaning manner (except Leelian, whose make-up wouldn’t have allowed glares even if she had been disposed to glare).
The Banana told me that I was welcome to sign up full-time at her company, having shown that I possessed the necessary requirements for working in events management (loves working OT, getting low pay and doing chores that no one else will).
I’ll think about it.