This week, leading up to the 9th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards 2012 (Happening on 29th April 2012), we have initiated a fun little project with several new and seasoned performing art practitioners to jot down their thoughts on the industry, the awards and anything else they want to say.
Here’s the first one from Jon Chew, cast member of “The Last Five Years” nominated for several categories in this year’s awards ceremony!
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Dear Generation A,
You may not know me. And yet, you do. I am just one of many young theatre practitioners currently plying his trade. I have only done so for around three years. I am at the start of a long journey. And before I begin again and feel the pain of a long run, I am stopping for directions.
While I am young, I hear stories. I hear you talk about the “golden age of Malaysian theatre”. Shows that dared, shows that provoked. That ended up in Parliamentary debates, that painted a new picture of what our country could be, what it should be. Shows that broke boundaries like nothing else in the entertainment industry or, hell, anything in this land.
While I am young, I look up to those who walked before me. You don’t live on wealth or fame. You don’t clear your cabinet for trophies, or dwell in the margins of a newspaper’s column inches. You definitely don’t do theatre for the money. You do it for quaint reasons like fun, passion, love. But whether or not it was a goal, you made history. You gave people like me a chance to take the stage, because it was built by the sweat and tears of your hands. You got dirty for us. Thank you so much.
While I am young, I hear whispers. Theatre today, you might say, isn’t what it used to be. The good old days are gone. In its place, shows are nothing more than fluff, as original as a DVD seller on the sidewalk. The young are not quite as disciplined. Not quite as memorable. You have offered your hand of leadership, and some of us have not taken it. So you’re disappointed. Some have even chosen not to walk into a theatre space, unless a familiar smell of the past lures you back in. In remembrance. In hope.
While I am young, don’t forget me. Because the past looks intimidating. The future looks scary. And we can’t walk into it alone. We need a steady voice to tell us what the theatre industry of our country is missing, or more importantly, what our country is missing. We need ears who will listen to our own stories that evolve every day, every hour. We want to know when we are wrong, when we should stand instead of sit. We need help. I need help.
While I am young, I have dreams. Me, and hundreds of others who want to create a new era of story-telling. We want to do work that lasts. We want to write plays that schools would use as textbooks for future generations. We want to create shows that the layman can tell the other layman about in a kopitiam. We want a golden age too. But I don’t know the cost. Tell me the cost.
While I am young, I am sorry. I am a child. I make mistakes, I value play a little too much over work, I am easily distracted. But one day, a child will need to put away childish things, and grow up. And when I do, I hope it will be with a heart still burning, shielded enough from cynicism. All because we worked together to make sure it never gave out.
These are just my thoughts. There is no agenda, but a reminder that we will never stop sharing our common struggles, and maybe, to ask for your hand once again. Don’t stop believing. Push us. Challenge us. So that we may learn. While I am young.
Yours, in the service of others,