Friday, October 21, 2011

On a year that's flown by...

I know. I know it's been a while since I've written anything here... apologies. I guess that's what happens when your life shifts a little. Not that I'm making excuses, but I have been a wee bit busier than usual this year. Going back to full-time work to help support a partner who's gone back to full time study will do that for you.

It's been interesting having the shoe on the other foot. Since the beginning of (our) time - tipping fifteen years now - I have always been the one off chasing shiny new things. First it was the arts degree that took me ten years to finish, which led to the writing caper, then the stand-up caper, then on to the postgrad study. And all the while my engine-house husband kept pumping away quietly in the background, sharing the steam he generated with me so I could keep runing around and letting mine off.

Then was the time of world travel, followed by the time of settling down, of the signing the papers for the pile of bricks, of finally feeling like grownups, and then facing up to grownup bumps in the road. Of happiness and devastation and joy and fun, of yelling and listening and eventually (and surprisingly) getting over it.

Now we're coming to the end of the first year where he is the one doing the dream-chasing. And how proud I am of him. Two more years of this ahead of us, and I can see it already. At the end of it he'll have a uniform and a stethoscope and will be out there with lights and sirens, saving lives. And I will be as I am now - baking, writing, proud.

Progress on the writing since Varuna has been slow, but I've been back at it in recent weeks.

I have a plan for a second YA novel ready to go once I finish this one.

I have been crocheting like a demon.

I have a letter in the upcoming Women of Letters anthology.

We've added asparagus to our courtyard veggie patch, and a pear tree.

I'm turning 38 in two weeks.

I'm really thankful xox

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Where did January go?

Hello there - yes I know it's been a while since we've chatted. Is this year already zipping by, or what? January gone, February not long for this world... well, at least for me, in a way. This week is my last 'normal' week in February, as I am off to Varuna, The Writers' House for the last 2 weeks of the month. I'm looking forward to spending a fortnight with my work-in-progress, and not much else. The weather forecast tells me that there's going to be a lot of rain. What more could a girl ask for?

This will be my first writer's retreat. I will use the time to work on my second novel, which is of the YA genre, set in Melbourne. Four other writers will also be at the writers house at the same time; we'll all be locked away with their own work during daylight hours, and will come together over dinner every night. There is no internet, no TV, and I'm going to try and keep phonecalls to the minimum. This should be an interesting experience.

Anyway, I'll be back in March, and will fill you all in on my experiences. Till then, have a great February!

Friday, September 24, 2010

On acting.

For the past few weeks, I’ve just not been myself. I’m not talking about feeling out of sorts occasionally, or turning into a dastardly alternate version of myself after imbibing some sort of wicked bubbling potion out of a test-tube. Though I guess some might say the transformation I’ve been going through could sort of be likened to that (minus the potion). You see, I’ve been rehearsing to act in my first play.

It’s not like I haven’t been on stage before. I started public speaking when I was at primary school in Fiji, and first saw my name etched into a brass plaque on an oratory competition trophy when I was in class seven. In high school, I moved on to debating, but dropped that quick-smart when I started university in Melbourne. Later, my curiosity turned me toward trying out stand-up comedy, which I did for a couple of years and enjoyed the challenge of. So, given all these past experiences, you’d think that acting in a play would be a piece of cake – just a different version of what I’d been doing all these years. I thought it might be, too, in the early days of rehearsals. Now I know better.

In the play, titled I Could Be You, I play the part of Shireen, and International student from New Delhi in India, who finds herself in the Maribyrnong Detention Centre after breaching her student visa. While I obviously have the look for the part, I do not have the sound – a sound that’s been described as ‘ocker’ before, though I don’t really think my Australian accent is as twangy as that description implies. I was brought up in Australia till I was eight years old. I’ve always sounded like this.

Initially, my worry about being in a play was learning the lines. Highlighting my character’s parts in the script, I asked myself, ‘How am I going to remember all this?’. Then rehearsals began and, together with the other three actors, I began to settle into my role. My character’s lines slowly became my lines; her story, my story. I tried to feel her pain and to communicate it – but the problem was that I was still using my own voice, not hers.

When I did stand-up, I spoke as myself. I did not use an accent, Indian or otherwise, to get a laugh. Mainly because my stand-up material was personal - observational - and not character-based. I got up on stage, picked up a microphone, and began to speak. What you saw was what you got. I represented no one but myself. Now here I was, playing a character, but using my own voice. For the first time in my life, I have changed the way I speak in order to allow someone else to speak through me.

Playing Shireen has been a moving experience. As I speak her words, I feel the anger and frustration that I know belongs not only to her, but to many Indian students in Melbourne. I feel privileged to have been able to take on this role. I must be doing it right - after our opening night performance, I was paid the highest compliment: a stranger asked a friend of mine how long I had been in Australia for.

I Could Be You is showing at Theatreworks (14 Acland Street, St Kilda), Friday 24th and Saturday 25th at 8.30pm September, then October 5-9 at 7pm. Tickets are $25/$20 concession, or $15 per person for groups of 6 or more. For more information and to book tickets, visit the Theatreworks or Melbourne Fringe Festival websites.