Saturday, Oct 21st

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Wednesday, 15 April 2015 10:39

Feeling the Reality and Nervousness at First Appearance on Stage

Written by  Documenting Team, Melaka / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

On the mock stage for the first time and seeing the various markings and lines, volunteers were troubled and confused. [Photograph by Kan Yuet Wei]

Volunteer Tai Kim Long felt joyful beyond words when standing on the stage he helped construct. But, he made many mistakes with his hand coordination as he was nervous. First timer, Dr Chan Bee Keow, was tense and nervous, as she worried about tripping and falling down the stairs, hence affecting other performers.


 
Since Tzu Chi Melaka initiated the briefing on Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance on October 24, 2014, practices have been carried out for more than five months. Since April 2015, volunteers from Melaka Branch, as well as, Seremban, Muar, Kota Tinggi, Kluang and Tampin Liaison Offices, Ulu Tiram and other community centres, have taken turns to practise on the mock stage. They have all waited a long time with mixed feelings of excitement and bewilderment, after practising on flat ground; and they wondered how the stage performance would look like.
 
On the evening of April 3, the silence of Cheng Industrial Estate was broken by the music and voices of command. Performers from Melaka were using the mock stage for the first time, and everyone was exploring in bewilderment how to move up and down the staircases, where to position themselves, how to align movements and so on.
 
On April 11, buses brought in more performers from various locations for their respective practices at the mock stage. Like the previous groups, they also shared similar experiences of bewilderment.
 
From intense to stunning performance
 
On April 3 evening, volunteer Tai Kim Long and his wife, Ng Siew Peng, also a volunteer, their children and neighbour, drove for about 45 minutes from Masjid Tanah to arrive at the destination. It was their first practice on the 48 sq ft stage. At approximately 10 ft high, practising on this stage was very different from practising on flat ground. Hence, he felt nervous and his hands were not in coordination with the sign language movements. He made many mistakes but after adjusting and calming himself down, he managed to focus on the commands, positioning, sequence and formation changes again; and gradually, he improved.
 
Recalling the challenges faced in the past six months, Kim Long said, “When practising on flat ground in a multi-purpose classroom at the Melaka Branch, the movements of turning around, squatting down and bending over were constraint by the available space.” With the distinctive high-low level of the stage, formations were clearly visible, body movements more flexible for blending into the performance and performers could also accurately comprehend the positioning and sequence.
 
An overjoyed Kim Long exclaimed, “When I helped to construct the stage on March 21, I was merely working hard hoping to complete the task quickly. When the stage began to take shape, I was unable to visualize how the overall performance would look like on stage. Today, I can truly feel the beauty and grandeur of the overall performance.”
 
Overcame obstacles to perform on 3D-stage
 
Dr Chan Bee Keow from Hospital Sultanah Aminah, Johor Bahru, had participated in sutra adaptation performances in 2009 and 2011. Hence, she was familiar with simple sign language, acting and singing. When she attended the 2011 TIMA Annual Convention in Taiwan, she participated in the performance of “Repenting Our Wrong Ways”, where the lyrics illustrated the slaughtering of animals for consumption. Since then, she decided to uphold vegetarianism.
 
In 2014, she bravely accepted Ulu Tiram volunteer, Peng Mei Hua’s invitation to participate in the sutra adaptation performance even though she was weary of sign language.
 
She had to make the one-and-a-half-hour journey from Johor Bahru to Ulu Tiram Community Centre to attend the two or three practices a week. At one stage, she had wanted to quit due to her work commitments and her inability to grasp the techniques of sign language. However, with Mei Hua’s constant caring, and special arrangements for sign language lessons by local volunteers, Dr Chan overcame all obstacles to continue with her practice at the Centre.
 
After practising for a few months on flat ground, Dr Chan was very nervous standing on the mock stage for the first time on April 11. She said, “Before this, the staircase was just my imagination. Now that there is a staircase to be stepped on, the feeling is really different.” When performing the song “Introduction”, she was rather afraid of the squatting down and standing up movements. She revealed, “As I was standing on the third staircase, I feared that I might trip over in case of imbalance, thus, causing others below me to fall down!”
 
Senior citizen’s perseverance to participate
 
Seventy-one-year-old Yee Yang Mooi, a volunteer from Lukut, was happy to see the mock stage as she could see the entire formation when practising on it. However, she encountered extreme difficulty when moving upward as her steps were unstable. Despite the colourful and different markings along the stage, it was still not an easy task for her to find the correct position within such a short time frame.
 
The practice lasted for four hours, and many volunteers felt the pain in their legs. During the break, some massaged their legs to ease the pain and some sat down to take a rest. Yang Mooi, however, was still standing straight despite her bodily pain. She expressed, “Of course I am aching and tired too, but I have to endure!” She manifested a strong perseverance and shared that, “Sutra adaptation performance is a good activity. We must seize this opportunity to repent for our past mistakes.”
 
 
On the early morning of April 15, which was a Public Holiday for Melaka, 352 performers started practising the “Prelude” diligently to perfect their movements on stage. They were repeatedly reminded of their positioning by Stage Coordinator, Yen York Lee in the four-and-a-half-hour practice. York Lee explained, “Due to the age and cultural differences of performers, disorderliness was understandable. But as practices on this stage would be regular, everyone should be able to master and comprehend the movements, positioning and formations soon.”
 
Regardless of the distance, performers from different areas gathered at the mock stage on Public Holidays or Friday evenings for practice. As they were on stage for the first time, everyone seized the opportunity to practise repeatedly and make necessary adjustments to fit into the overall beauty. Despite moving up and down the stage ample times, everyone was still in high spirit to give of their best in the limited time frame. When others were practising on stage, the rest were practising diligently with their partners off stage.
 
 

 
On April 3, Melaka team practised on the mock stage for the first time. [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]   Prior to this, Dr Chan Bee Keow (2nd right), could only imagine a staircase. It feels more realistic with the stage now. [Photograph by Kan Yuet Wei]

On April 3, Melaka team practised on the mock stage for the first time. [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]
 
Prior to this, Dr Chan Bee Keow (2nd right), could only imagine a staircase. It feels more realistic with the stage now. [Photograph by Kan Yuet Wei]
 
Although the practice lasted for four hours, 71-year-old Yee Yang Mooi was still standing straight despite her tired and aching legs. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]   Melaka volunteers took the opportunity of a Public Holiday (Melaka Historical Day) to practise. Before going on stage, small groups were formed to practise the sign language. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]

Although the practice lasted for four hours, 71-year-old Yee Yang Mooi was still standing straight despite her tired and aching legs. [Photograph by Siow Yau Chu]
 
 
Melaka volunteers took the opportunity of a Public Holiday (Melaka Historical Day) to practise. Before going on stage, small groups were formed to practise the sign language. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
 
Different from the first frantic experience, Tai Kim Long gradually improved with subsequent stage practices. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]    

Different from the first frantic experience, Tai Kim Long gradually improved with subsequent stage practices. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]