56. The Talkative Turtle and Other Stories

Earlier this year, in June, I had the privilege of seeing a script that I wrote come to life as a live theater performance in the Petaling Jaya Live Arts Center. It wasn’t the first script I had written for theater (because seriously, who ever does it right on their first script?), but it was the first time I have seen one of my scripts appear in a theater production.

(alas, Short+Sweet 2012, you could have been the first – but you did not want me. Cold, cold heart, you)

The writing of The Talkative Turtle and Other Stories was a turbulent journey, the road riddled with potholes named finance research paper and assignments, both of them serving well to wreck the writing vehicle’s suspension. They probably also delayed the arrival of the public bus of inspiration, but I wouldn’t know about that.

How I got the gig was also noteworthy: after the brainstorming/collaborative writing session, the original writer had taken all the materials home, and was all set to make magic happen – and then she suddenly had an eye surgery and couldn’t do it anymore. So because theater folks are busy, busy people, I got the chance to write for the show instead.

All in all, the writing that begun in February saw its completion in March (with only one revision!), and the rehearsal draft rolled out in May (with many of my inappropriate jokes cut out), which all led to the show that opened in the first week of June.

I am continually surprised at how the general reception of my work seems to be negatively proportionate to the amount of effort I actually put into it. Throughout the writing process I was pressured on all sides with aforementioned potholes, sleep deprived for one reason or another, and generally rushed for completion due to the short production time. But when everything was done, and the curtain drawn on the show in PJLA for the last time in June, I was told that it was everything they had wanted it to be – and if possible, they’d like me to write the future shows like that.


So I thought that was it – I’ve had my fun, and it was time to leave The Talkative Turtle and his friends alone, until yesterday when I received a text message telling me that I am invited for a one-time run of the show at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center, where the show would be performed by adorable little actors who had just completed their one-year speech and drama course.

(really, though, both the actresses who played the eponymous Turtle in the PJLA and KLPAC productions were the cutest things I’ve ever seen)

And so I found myself earlier this afternoon in KLPAC, seated at the back row-

“Joseph! Your seat’s over here!”

Sorry, seated at the front row in a freakin’ seat reserved for me, watching the production unfold before me, this time being acted out by about 20 little actors and actresses; a huge cast, especially when compared to the PJLA production where the whole show was done by 6 actors rapidly switching in and out of different roles (which was pretty awesome the way it was).

I’m not sure if this counts as my show being opened twice, but it sure is a great feeling.

And to the girl who acted as the Turtle: please grow up quickly and get into the performing arts scene so that I can write more roles for you.


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