A few weeks ago I had my last theatre performance as an actrees in another Indepentent Project by our Second Years. The play was entitled ‘The Other Side of Titanic’ and directed by Matthew Li (Hong Kong). It told the story of four Titanic survivors who are stranded on a lifeboat, leaving them to contemplate life and death.
In the spirit of experimentation, this performance took place in swimming pool. Swimming pool? Yes. You acted in the water? Well… yes. In a lifeboat. Our first practices where on dry land and Matthew did not leave anything out that could possibly help us acting in the water: from minute long squats to balance training, to physically challenging position holding to pronunciation. My favorite and at the same time most difficult practice on land was the day when we had to meditate while sitting on the cold floor (at that time Hong Kong weather was being very moody and unfriendly) for 30 minutes while listening to ocean sounds. And indeed it helped us calm down and “feel” the cold slowly crawl up our spine until our fingers and feet were numb.
The first practice in the swimming pool proved to be a success, as we discovered a little life raft behind the pool area, which was of course a much better option than our improvised version of lifeboat: two kayaks bound together. The water was fairly cold, hence we wore wetsuits during most of our practices. Practicing lines was never so much fun and each rehearsal ended in a big splash and four actors hysterically running to the hot showers. Our full dress rehearsals proved to be even more amusing, as climbing up a boat in a black lace dress was not as easy as I previously had thought. Matthew gave us a lot of freedom in developing our characters and on some evenings we would spend hours sitting in the spiritual center and writing about them. I was starring a snobby yet independent and fairly adventurous first-class woman who only cared about her own well-being, Dominic (Hong Kong) was the only male on board and portrayed a very rich gentleman who was willing to sacrifice his own health for keeping other alive, whereas Malika (Pakistan) played a very thoughtful and cynical woman trying to commit suicide to free herself from the cold after having lost her family and meaning of life, and Lorraine (Hong Kong) acted as the third woman who had accepted her soon death yet tried her best to stay positive.
The play was not intended to be funny – originally – yet some of our lines were so deep and philosophical that the audience had no other choice but to giggle at us four frantically trying to climb the lifeboat, only to jump off again. After we left the “stage” (and went to the hidden area of the pool) Dominic and me were chuckling so much, that we had to stay submerged underwater until the play ended. It was a very short performance, yet all of us enjoyed it very much. And what could be a better way of ending a theater performance, than climbing out of a pool, fully dressed, after having contemplated about the meaning of life and death?
It was a wonderful and at the same time very thought provoking journey of self-discovery, personal challenge and improving acting skills in unusual surroundings. Thank you Matthew for your patience and hard-work! After 3 IP performances I realized how much I actually enjoy acting and I can without any doubt say that I will miss it very much.