91. Short + Sweet KL 2013

It’s days like these that manages to both inspire and demotivate me as a writer.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching some of Malaysia’s most incredible talents in action earlier this evening at Short + Sweet Theater, the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center. Tonight was the last night of the festival, which meant that it was gala night – when the best of the best would come together and compete for the prizes.

Last year, Stephen and I had went over to KLPAC on Sunday evening itself, hoping to get tickets to the biggest little show in town – only to find that there was only 1 ticket remaining, and there was no convincing them to let us both in, no matter how much we were willing to pay.

(which, frankly, wasn’t a lot anyway)

This year, having learned my lesson – I went over to KLPAC with Nick yesterday afternoon and got the tickets for us, and it turns out that we managed to get the last 3 tickets that were available for sale.

(if there exists a linear correlation between the time the tickets take to sell out and the number of years Short + Sweet has been in Malaysia, there will soon come a time that the festival will be fully sold out upon the moment it is announced. I should make a graph of this one day)

After missing the festival for the past 2 years, I was really, honestly surprised to see the quality of talents that were being displayed. The night was simply full of incredible writing and acting (except for that one about The Oscars), and I really cannot think of any better way to spend my Sunday night and my RM38. Where to begin?

The night started off with Hang In There – about a suicidal man whose attempts to take his own life are stopped by the devil, who is of the opinion that hell cannot afford to contain useless souls like his. There was some really solid writing going on, and though the actor playing the suicidal man didn’t carry the opening as well as he could have, everything ramped up a notch with the appearance of the devil, who was simply a delight to see in action.

Soon after came Almighty Might, about a man who stands before the gates of the parliament building, waiting for a revolution to start. The entire play and its myriad of characters were played out in full by 3 actors, who switched in and out of character rapidly as the story unfolded – again, amazing acting skills were displayed, and true ingenuity in the form of storytelling for the stage.

Somewhere past the halfway mark, there came a play titled Aku Bukan Teroris, a play about a man who was detained for his beliefs, and one that surprised me at first due to the fact that it was performed entirely in Bahasa Malaysia, and I had to switch gears mentally in order to go along with the plot. As a person who has kept the language away upon completing secondary school, I cannot comment upon the writing – but the actor who pulled off the literal one-man show had some phenomenal acting skills going on, taking us from comedic panic to raw desperation in a matter of seconds.

Following the explosive end of Aku Bukan Teroris was my favorite play of the night, titled Apple Mint Jelly On Toast – a play which is as simple, nostalgic, and sweet as it sounds. Performed mostly in Hokkien, but with translated subtitles helpfully available for the audience projected against the screen, it won me over by how genuine it came across, and by how well the elements of comedy, drama, symbolism, and entertainment were balanced. A line that sounded suspiciously like a line from Alan Moore’s Watchmen aside, it was incredibly well-written, well-performed, and well-designed.

It’s days like these that manages to both inspire me and demotivate me as a writer – to see the wonderful talents that are right at my doorstep, and to see the number of people who are so far ahead of me in the perfection of their craft. While I’m sitting here still trying to wrap my head around structure, these people have gone ahead to create stories that move people’s hearts and touch people’s spirits; and God knows that those are the stories that truly matter.

I now head to bed with a head heavy with fatigue, and a heart heavy with regret for the times I did not spend working at my skills – but when I wake, it will be another day of writing that I wake up to. Short + Sweet 2013 has indeed been quite the experience, and I hope to see myself among these giants for Short + Sweet 2014.