Chimerica review – Sydney Theatre Company’s best production

chimericanew_716x403

Last night I was honoured to attend a special preview performance of Sydney Theatre Company’s Chimerica. I have to say that this is Sydney Theatre Company’s best production yet. I was blown away by not only the script but also by the performance of the whole cast, stage direction and especially the set transitions that looked more like a well choreographed dance. There were also a few wonderful elements of theatre magic incorporated into the show.

screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-7-04-53-am

Chimerica is a play by the British dramatist Lucy Kirkwood directed by Kip Williams. It draws its title from the term Chimerica, referring to the predominance of China and America in modern geopolitics. It tracks two decades of complex US-China relations alongside the personal stories that exist beyond the margins of history. It’s a gripping drama, has a touch of romance, and has great comedy – all in one. One of my favourite lines is, “be careful of your tooth” …”you can’t handle the truth!” The whole audience erupted into laughter at this scene and Gabrielle Chan’s money exchange scene and many more.

a.jpg  b.jpg

Award-winning Artistic Director Kip Williams (All My Sons) directs a visually enthralling Australian premiere of this captivating epic which takes the audience on an emotional journey that leaves you in awe by his directorial vision and strong performance of the cast. After winning Helpmann Awards in 2016 for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, Mark Leonard Winter (King Lear) features as the photojournalist at the centre of the action, together with Jason Chong (Netflix’s Marco Polo), and a magnificent ensemble cast who are joined by 20 young artists from the National Institute of Dramatic Art.

Mesmerising performances by the cast – Matthew Backer, Gabrielle Chan, Jason Chong, Tony Cogin, Geraldine Hakewill, Brent Hill, Rebecca Massey, Monica Sayers, Mark Leonard Winter, Anthony Brandon Wong, Charles Wu & Jenny Wu.

This is theatre at its best. It’s visually stimulating and leaves the audience in awe by the cast’s performance and a well written script. Congratulations to Kip Williams and the cast & ensemble cast. This is a 10/10 production.

 

 

Advertisements

Interview with 16 year old published author Malaika Gilani

m

Malaika Gilani is a 16 year old published author. She is a go getter and very motivated, so motivated that she contacted me to interview her for my blog. She has been writing short stories and poems for her school newsletters and magazines and is a Pakistani Citizen who currently resides in Melbourne with her family.

How did you start your writing career? ( & what inspired you?)

So we had a subject called personal learning in Yr 8 and we had an assignment we were to write five poems. I wrote those and enjoyed it. When people read them they liked it. A lot of people talked to me about problems like friends family etc. You cant keep everything in. So when people told me I had a hard time keeping it in like some people have such difficulties getting where they are, but instead of being happy about the progress they get embarrassed. So I started writing poetry to let those journeys out, and when people read them they felt better. So it sort of became a thing.

As I moved on with life I realised a lot of these problems we face are the same. Trouble with friends, feeling etc. So I decided to get the message across by getting a book published so more people could read.

What writers / authors inspire you and why?

Every author inspires me as they all start at the bottom. For writing everyone has to start at the bottom. Its amazing where people end up.

m2

How did you get your book, Untold Journeys, published by A&A Publishers?

I got rejected a few times, accepted by a few place but things didn’t work out. Then I met Joy, my agent from A&A Publishers. Things worked out from there. The rejections didn’t pull me down. I took them as a sign from God that I wasn’t ready. The first offer I got was in 2015. Back then I didn’t even have half the poems I do right now. Things didn’t work out etc. I was pretty crushed at first but now when I look back i see things are just how they are supposed to be. God has a plan. If I had published in 2015 me and my readers would have missed out on some amazing journeys.

What topics inspire you to write about and why?

Well everyday problems. As people feel embarrassed talking about them! I beg to differ. Everyone has family problems and problems with dating etc. So I want to voice these opinions and show people what society says does not matter.

What advice would you give to other writers?

Keep trying. If you get rejected its for your own good. Remember to have faith because God has bigger plans for you 🙂

What is your next writing project?

Currently focussing on Yr 12 so I will take a break.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I see a forensic psychiatrist and an inspirational author!

 

Forget New Year’s Resolutions!

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-9-06-59-am

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!

So you’ve gone out on New Year’s Eve and everyone’s asking, “What’s your New Year’s Resolution or Resolutions?” The answer to tell them is, “To not make any resolutions!” Reason being, I never stick to them!

For the last three years, I’ve told myself, the number one resolution for me is to lose weight!” The first year I wanted to lose two kilograms, the next year three and so on…in the last five years instead of losing weight, I’ve gained five kilograms! So no, this year I’ve decided – no resolutions and maybe next year I may have lost the five kilograms I had wished for in the first place!

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-9-07-11-am

Research has shown that “making massive goals are deflating rather than motivating” and that most New Year’s resolutions are broken by March that year. Also 42 percent of New Year’s Resolutions involve trying to be healthier. Yes I tried this however if pureeing kale in juices makes you gag, just don’t do it – I did and it was the start of bulimia! I soon put an end to that. Also with past resolutions I wanted to be healthy. I told myself that I would cook more. Again – I was wrong! Cooking and cleaning up afterwards became more of a chore and a workout in itself. I spent the whole time cleaning the eggs whites that I tried to soufflé off the floor, and the pureed fruit and vegetables became a Pro-Hart art piece splattered on my walls. Suddenly I told myself – STOP! It’s OK not to cook every night, give yourself a break. I now cook two or three times a week and use the left over roast lamb or chicken in wraps, sushi or fried rice. The other nights I eat out at takeout joints that have healthy options, loaded with veggies, lean meats and proteins and grains. I also love takeaway sushi at places that make it fresh right in front of you, not those places where the sushi is going round and round on a sushi train for an hour or so, or sitting at counter all day for you to get food poisoning!

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-9-09-58-am

So if anyone asks, “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” Say, “to not have one!” And maybe 2017 will be a ripper year for all with no expectations! Just a year to live and be happy!

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-9-10-23-am

 

Interview with Aileen Huynh from the latest Tim Ferguson’s movie Spin Out

a2

Q.1. Congratulations on your film “Spin Out” what character do you play and what kind of character is she? Was it written for a person from a non specific ethnic background or not?

I play the role of ‘Merline’, a fitness freak who runs work-out classes including Boxercise, Yogasize and Jazzasize, all self-titled, of course. She is really switched on to social media, fashion and her boyfriend Rooter 😉 The role was specifically written for a Chinese-Australian woman, which is great, as it immediately creates an opportunity for an actor from a diverse background and a representation on screen. My cultural background is never referred to either, which is a welcomed change, as I feel there is often an attempt to justify why an actor from a diverse background has been cast. I do believe that overcoming the lack of diversity on our screens does begin in the writing room. If it hadn’t been specified in the script then I really don’t think I would have ever been seen for this role.

Q.2. What was the casting process like for this film (please expand – e.g. self test, then audition, I had to fly to Melbourne etc and read opposite…)

It started off with a self test which I shot at home with the help of a friend, and after that, one call-back audition with the casting director and the directors of the film. As the troupe were flying in from Melbourne for call-backs, there was really only one opportunity to see them.

a-1

Q.3. What was your most memorable moment on the “Spin Out” set?

There is a massive mud fight scene in the film and the night of that shoot the crew had set up this ‘incubator’ tent with hay and heating fans to keep us warm as the temperature would drop rapidly as soon as evening hit. I just remember looking around at everyone huddled inside, wrapped in blankets, in-amongst the hay, covered in mud and completely unrecognisable and it all seemed very strange and surreal.

Q.4. Is this your breakthrough role? (If so why? If not what was it?)

I really don’t think I’ve ‘broken through’ anything! I’m still plodding along, trying to learn more and work out how to actively contribute to the arts world in a way that feels right. It’s all still a big learning curve.

Q.4. What actors/ actresses do you look up & admire to in the industry (Oz or US etc) and why?

I am really impressed by Rose Byrne and the trajectory of her career. She is a very talented actor who has managed to work continuously across, what seems to be a myriad of roles and genres in prolific projects, yet also manages to fly under the radar in amongst all that Hollywood drama. Every actors dream career! However looking at things from a different perspective I really admire creator Freddie Wong, who is now part of his self-created company, Rocket Jump. He started off with a bloke called Brandon making online videos predominately about gaming, which they wrote, directed and edited all themselves. It’s mind-blowingly good. Fast forward till now and Freddie has his content on Netflix, a TV show on his film-making (currently showing on SBS) and millions and millions of hits on YouTube- and that was all self-generated! There are heaps of others like him too, creating their own stuff and finding their own audiences. It’s so warming to know that the art of creating in its true form does exist and that it doesn’t always have to do with money, a look, and luck.

a3

Q.5. Do you see a change in the industry since when you first started? If so what is it and why?

In terms of diversity, I would say that since I started in the industry, the heat around this topic has drastically risen on a worldwide scale. It seems we are at the stage where we are seeing a large culmination of voices from those who come from diverse backgrounds themselves or have grown up in our ever-increasing multicultural society that are saying there is a problem with the way society is represented. Has this conversation changed anything? Yes, I think it’s starting to! We’re not talking a complete fix, far from it and we still very much lag behind countries such as the US and UK on this issue, who are themselves, still working through it, but we are at the start of exciting times in seeing some kind of proactive change. I see companies and creative directors talking about it with seriousness and acknowledgment. There are signs of opportunities being made for diversity in places I have never seen before and new funding from bodies that are open to aiding change. Thank the lord! It’s about time.

a4

Q.6. What do you think about Colourblind casting and do you think it’s important here in Australia?

I think the concept of Colour-blind casting is so important in our industry worldwide as a way of lowering segregation, tokenism and creating a sense of inclusiveness. Of course there is a place for specific racial casting when we tell stories that have strong connections with specific cultures and it should be done with sensitivity to reflect those stories honestly. Particular relationships may not make sense if ethnicity and background aren’t taken into account, such as family relationships etc. It’s just a fact that there are some casting choices where race will automatically be a factor. However smart Colour-blind casting can easily happen. If there is a role that isn’t race specific then there should be more thought and opportunities given to showcase diversity. It’s actually absurd that it happens so rarely, given the current social climate, where our most populated areas are densely multicultural.

Q.7. What changes would you like to see in the Film /TV/ Stage industries

I would love to see more people from diverse backgrounds employed on projects on the production side- writers, directors, producers. Change needs to start from the inside before it can make its way out. Having more diversity brings a range of different experiences and knowledge and I think this is also part of the answer in making the content our industry creates bolder, enriching and more engaging.

Photos courtesy of Aileen Huynh / Sony Pictures

Creative Halloween Ideas for Kids

Halloween is coming up on October 31st, 2016. Here are some fun craft and foodie ideas for children with The Wong Side of Life!

 HALLOWEEN CRAFT IDEAS

halloween-masks

Halloween hand masks

halloween-mrs-wong-pumpkin

Paper pumpkin (lantern style)

halloween-maree-feet

Feet print ghosts.

halloween-lin-wong-cotton-buds

Hand X-ray using cotton buds & white paint

halloween-lantern-reece

Pumpkin style lanterns

halloween-dr-wong-skeleton-cotton-bud-skeleton

Cotton bud skeleton

halloween-spider-web

Spider web using pop sticks and wool (black or white)

HALLOWEEN FOODIE TREATS

Screen shot 2014-10-12 at 6.49.31 PM

cake-stuff

1114c81e2df011e3a53722000aeb43de_7

IMAGE: @AWEBB8 ON INSTAGRAM

10554047_308760685968283_462853614_n

IMAGE: @SOUTHPAWSTUDIOS ON INSTAGRAM

1389707_606751516054219_1401554751_n

IMAGE: @STEVENSGIRLXOXO ON INSTAGRAM

1389573_221595384676743_977211283_n

IMAGE: @BDALB ON INSTAGRAM

3_zombie-marshmallows

IMAGE: MEAGHAN MOUNTFORD THE DECORATED COOKIE

10683900_294708627390153_209797300_n

IMAGE: @FIVEHEARTHOME ON INSTAGRAM

 

 

Interview with Takaya Honda (The Family Law/ Play School) and now Neighbours!

Screen shot 2016-09-05 at 6.21.38 PM
*

Takaya Honda is an Australian stage and screen actor. He’s known for his role as Klaus Thomson in the 2016 comedy TV series, The Family Law , Play School and now Neighbours.

He was born in Canberra, but moved to Sydney at a young age and attended Sydney school Barker College graduating in 2005. He then attended the College Of Fine Arts (UNSW) in 2006 studying a Bachelor of Digital Media before transferring to the University of Technology Sydney in 2007 to study a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (MediaArts and Production) which he graduated from on the 29th April 2011.

JOY: Congratulations on landing a regular role for Neighbours. Please tell us briefly about the whole casting process.

*
TAKAYA: The audition process began with a self test. I had originally been sent the sides for the role of my twin, Leo but was able to get my hands on the sides for David from a friend, filmed both and sent them through to casting. About two weeks after that I got a call back and had to fly down to Melbourne. For the call back I had to prepare for both roles, so had to know both scenes and they also sent a scene through between the two brothers and I had to learn both roles in that as well. The callback was with about 7 others, all of varying Asian mixes, we were called in at different points to either play the scenes either with the actors playing the roles opposite (in this case Zoe Cramond and Matt Wilson) or one of the other auditionees and we were at the studios for about 4-5 hours. About two weeks after that I had to fly back down to Melbourne again for another callback. This time we had to have all three previous scenes ready, as well as three new ones, two with another character in the show (who I don’t think I can name) and another between the two brothers, again learning both sides of the scenes. This call back had us down to the ‘final’ four. It was another lengthy audition lasting a few hours and with a lot of chop and changing between different combinations of people. In this callback we were fortunate to be able to run the scenes with the current cast members prior to going into the room, which was a huge help. After that callback it took around 2-3 weeks before I got the call from my agent saying I had gotten the role of David.
 *
JOY: Would you say Neighbours is your breakthrough role?
TAKAYA: It’s hard to say what my breakthrough role is, whether I’ve had it or even whether Neighbours is (will be) that. I feel it is something for others to judge. However I have been awarded some amazing experiences, from my first role (and audition) with A Gurls Wurld through to The Family Law, My Great Big Adventure, Play School and now Neighbours. To a degree I feel it’s hard for those of diverse backgrounds to have breakthrough roles in the same way as our caucasian acting brethren. I feel that the opportunities I have had would have opened more doors to a caucasian actor than have been for me. But, I must be clear in saying that I am truly very grateful for these opportunities.
*
Takaya 1 sml.jpg
 *
JOY: What made you want to get into the film/TV industry?

TAKAYA: Growing up I kinda wanted to do everything. I wanted to be the doctor, the lawyer and the fighter pilot and I came to realise that acting would allow me to play all of those things and more! I’ve also always had a passion for the visual – ever since I got my hands on a camera I have not been able to help myself but to try to capture the things I see around me.

JOY: How did you get started in your career?
TAKAYA: I had some fantastically supportive teachers at High School (Barker College), namely Damien Ryan and Terry Karabelas who really gave me an understanding of what Acting is and the reality of what a career in acting can be. Damien then invited me to perform with Sport For Jove Theatre Company where I have performed in a bunch of Shakespeare plays which lead to getting representation and the slog of years of working odd jobs with a peppering of Acting gigs. I’ve been a videographer/editor, photographer, light and sound rigging crew, cinema usher, web administrator, promotional model, casting assistant and the classic actor job – a bartender. I have done my best to keep my work as relevant as I could to the industry and am cherishing the time I am given now to be working as an actor full-time.
*
Screen shot 2016-09-05 at 6.21.31 PM
*
JOY: Do you think there’s a positive change in the TV/Film industries for more diversity?
TAKAYA: I think there is, the efforts that Neighbours are making are very positive and I do believe they are trying to do it the right way. With our characters, rather than be the two asian guys moving into Erinsborough, we are two Australians who have Japanese heritage and our storylines are like any other characters on the show, not ethnically specific, which is quite refreshing. We do not feel any pressure to be representatives for Japan or the immigrant experience – we just get to play within the world of our characters, which is rich with ‘Neighbours’ drama. The Family Law is another great example of a positive move within the industry and I hope that there are more opportunities like these ahead across the full gamut of Australian media.
*
JOY: Who inspires you in the industry?
TAKAYA: Those who inspire me in the industry are those who give back to it, and the broader community. Those who use the platform of celebrity to increase the amount of joy in the world are really who I look up to. In terms of acting I could rattle off the usual suspects but to me the likes of Miranda Tapsell as seemingly the industries voice of diversity, Charlotte Nicdao for being a friend who is so incredible at articulating her wisdom not just to me but the broader public (even in the face of denigrating criticism), Waleed Aly for the reasoning he brings to arguments and when thinking towards the international industry, Seth and Lauren Rogen for their work on Alzheimer’s, Aziz Ansari for so cleverly integrating the struggle of diverse actors into ‘Master of None’ – I could go on, but these humans who have taken the gift of popularity and used it for something outside of themselves, and who work towards bettering us as a whole. These people inspire me.
 *
JOY: What do you want to achieve in the future?
TAKAYA: Everything. haha. I don’t know – it is so hard in this industry to predict or dictate your own career that for me I like to provide myself with options and be happy with whatever path appears to me. Even just a couple of weeks before auditioning for Neighbours I wouldn’t have thought that it would have been a part of my journey. So, I like to stay open and positive because you just never know.

Father’s Day Gifts You Can Make!

Father’s Day is this Sunday 4th September 2016.

Here’s some creative Father’s Day gifts you can make!

The Wong Side of Life Father's Day DIY gifts

 

1) Tie Snake door stop

(made from a recycled old tie & red felt tongue & button eyes)

The Wong Side of Life Father's Day Gift Ideas

2) Father’s Day cardThe Wong Side of Life's Father's Day gift Ideas

3) Shirt packages ( to wrap your gifts in)

974c8a544121ee2ddc4b4ff2640553d8

Found on papercrave.com

6) Bottle Gift Bags (recycled from old shirts)

11a53b043763b3cb1ef88c89ffc363d7

via etsy.com

7) Hand Cards The Wong Side of Life hand cards side