Thursday, March 7, 2013

House of Tess

This title is a play on the title of, well, a play called House of Yes which I believe was made into a film...I remain confused about why the film is marketed as a light-hearted madcap romp when the play is about the dark and horrible secrets of a screwed up family.

House of Tess because noone is home, it's just me.  It's been just me all day - no headshots = no auditions.  No auditions = got to do something productive with my day.  Tomorrow is apartment inspection day, so I have CLEANED like a mofo.  Seriously.  I am really good.  It's the borderline severe obsessive compulsive disorder in me.  For a place with no furniture to speak of, little in the way of decor and 4 actors in their 20s living here it looks pretty darn good.

I also spent a good chunk of hours trawling, Backstage magazine, craigslist, audition blogs and other resources at my disposal, lining up next week's round of auditions.  Tomorrow I watch my ridiculously, fantastically talented friend and acting husband and dance partner AND neighbour Charles Pang in his professional debut Pornography for the People
He is playing a blogger posing as a prostitute, or something...I know there is a negligee involved.  I am very excited because Charles is really a gem,  he's a special human being being boundlessly generous and caring, hard working, poised, dignified, talent to spare.  If anyone deserves a great first job, he does and he will have the full support of the AMDA crew behind him, we're all going.  Then Sunday I'm back teaching a class, thank goodness - it's been 3 weeks since I did a real one what with graduation and auditions and just stuff. 

As in this mornings' post, Lola is officially gone now, I imagine she's made it to Mexico by now even if not Yucatan.  It's far, man.  I am sure the month will fly by - they always do, except when we're waiting for paychecks - but until I've got used to it it's going to be a weird few days without her around.  I won't hear quesadillas mentioned every single day til April.


One day later...
We had our apartment inspected yesterday - yearly thing, happened to be yesterday.  I was told 'this is not a frathouse' to which I responded (in my head, not out loud) 'Well that's lucky since we are 75% girls and also 75% in our twenties, too old to be in a fraternity or sorority.' Alternative sarky response: 'Oh NO, I'll have to cancel tonight's keg party and tell all these drunk college girls to go home then'.  Even more amusingly the first reference she made to this was when she stepped into me and Lola's shared room, where thanks to my bedding there is a definite presence of pink and we have pretty things hanging on the walls, photos of her nephew, books, perfume.  That morning I had been doing some filing so there is a pile of papers on the floor next to Lola's bed - other than that the room is tidy.  'Whos frat house is this?' she exclaims, entering.  Imagine my alarm on hearing that what me and Lola all this time thought was our bedroom was actually the residence halls of some kind of fraternity organisaton! How embarassing! Grr, seethe.
I was most offended by the assumption that because we are four young people living together, we are some sort of uncouth slobs.  There are dried flowers on our table.  The floor is swept, the surfaces are cleaned, wiped and antibacterial sprayed.  Bowl of fruit.  Shoes neatly lined up on mats.  I was wearing polka dot leggings and flowery slippers.  It could not be more the opposite of what was implied by her 'frat house' comment.  Unimpressed.  I am of the understanding that because a lot of young people moved into the building around the same time they are making sure to crack down early and stop any debauchery that the youth presence might incur.  I get it - incidents happen, the building management doesn't want that on their hands.  But while I can't speak for everyone in the building, at least the AMDA crew that is here are not having raucous parties every week, are not defacing the building, being drunk and disorderly, none of it.  In fact everyone in the building seems very nice, friendly neighbours, noise is never a problem.  I just don't think it's fair to generalise.  The landlady continued to tell me that, as 'head of the house' (...ok??) the onus was on me if there was any trouble.  Meanwhile sweet lovely trouble-free Jacob is standing by listening, utterly bewildered as to why we should be causing trouble, and two friends who came to visit in the morning are also standing there awkwardly thinking 'we don't live here...' She went on in this vein for a short while and then said they were organising a meeting for all the young people who had moved in recently.  So for us that will just be known as a school reunion then since we already know each other.  Perhaps it sounds silly that I took her lecture so much to heart but I really was quite offended.  (Internally.)
We are young, we are broke, we are actors - but we are not heathens. 

On a happier note, I went to see Charles in his professional debut.  I am honoured to be able to say that because he absolutely blew it out of the water, he delivered a jawdroppingly great performance.  Also gave me some pride that the other male principal was an English chap who was the other (for me anway) standout in the cast - totally natural, subtle, specific, clearly characterised, detailed, thoughtful performance.  I learned a lot watching.  The play itself was also great - the main theme it dealt with was internet censorship in China from the perspective of 4 characters somehow connected to 'pornography' - a young woman who found both fame and infamy as a sex blogger, a magazine editor Mr Lin who wrote a blog as a female prostitute and unintentionally exposed public figures, landing him in a shitload of trouble with the authorities (Charles!), a girl from the country who was raped as a young girl and is now a purveyor of homemade sex tapes, and an English journalist researching the stories of these people.  There were three more cast members who multi-roled as characters like Mrs Lin, Mr Lin's interrogator, the paparazzi.  They also had a couple of really interesting scenes where they played characters who were physical embodiments of what is called the 'Green Dam Youth Escort' a filtering system that all computers in China are required to have pre-installed or be distributed with the software as an accompanying CD.  There is a character created by internet citizens or netizens in China called the Green Dam Girl, which slightly pokes fun at the notion of the GDYE.  There are a lot of versions but she generally looks something like this - she has a river crab hat, a rabbit somewhere about her person, wears green and and armband with 'discipline' on it.
'The “crab” logo in the pictures refers to “harmonize”, a term directly derived from President Hu Jintao’s regular exhortations for Chinese citizens to create a harmonious society. In spoken Chinese, “river crab” sounds very much like “harmony”, which in China’s cyberspace has become a synonym for censorship.'

So at one point one of the actors, a fantastic Japanese girl with great comedic timing, was the Green Dam Girl speaking on behalf of the Green Dam Youth Escort.  She delivered a speech about how the filtering system was nothing like spying although it can see everything that you search for on the internet using your personal computer, all in the manner of a teacher telling five year olds why they shouldn't run in the classroom, and rounded off each serious point with 'hooraaaay!' like a demented cheerleader.  It was great, it was very pointed fun-poking, and it all set me thinking.

Since I saw the play I've been madly trying to read more and more about this whole thing because obviously it's an issue of huge controversy and endless discussion especially alongside SOPA here in the US, where 'some opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act state that requiring search engines to delete domain names violates the First Amendment and could begin a worldwide arms race of unprecedented Internet censorship

I intend to fully inform myself so that I can continue to consider the many facets of 'Pornography for the People', because although I was aware that, for example, Facebook and Twitter were banned in China, I didn't know the full extent and it would be interested to know how much of the play was imagined, how much exaggerrated and how much actually dead on, however controversial.

I will just mention the ending, which was brilliant - the actors come out, they bow, we applaud madly, they bow again then suddenly we hear a robotic female voice saying 'this play was against policy...we apologise to the audience...pretend you never saw this play...we apologise to the actors...this play was not filtered...' and words to that effect.  It was a nice touch, and actually addressed something that I'd been wondering - what would happen if you tried to put this play on in China? During the Q&A session afterwards the playwright mentioned that the events in the play had been based on real stories she had found while researching - or rather snippets of stories.  She found a small article on the real version of the Mr Lin character and what he had done, so his actions were real but when she tried to find out what happened to him, the trail went dead so she had to imagine the consequences and their (pretty high) severity.

There is so much more depth I could go into on this subject, now that I've started it's hard to stop digging, but I have to do other things like eat and sleep so for now,


That's goobye in Mandarin.

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