Spotlight on...


Red Bean's 7th Annual Performance
Reunion at West River
A short feature skit

Stacey and Erick recently sat down to interview each other and talk about their upcoming performance.

E: Itís the second lead role youíre doing.  Compared to the first play you did, this one is not as lively.  Itís more emotionally heavy.  Which do you think is harder?  In what areas do you think itís more challenging this year?

S: I think itís definitely a challenge.  Not only am I tragic, Iím also a wife, a mother.  My characterís probably, in actuality, younger than me, but she is definitely in a different stage of life than I am.  I think itís more difficult to be like her, whereas in my first role, I could be cutesy.  I guess in general, itís easier for me to act cutesy and lively. 

S:  Plus, both characters are such drastically different genres.  In the first play I was ďmo.Ē  Now, itís more challenging, because itís not just about being in sync with each other.  I think our interaction is much deeper than just having the right movements.


E: What do you think is the hardest part in this play?  Whatís the biggest challenge?

S: Definitely the singing and just being able to empathize with my character.  I can think about how she feels, but itís really different to know how she feels.  First of all thereís the timeset, and second of all Iím FAR from being married, and even farther from being a mother!  As for Kwok Song NgonÖI know some stupid people (laughter), but NEVER anybody like that.  So those are my two biggest challenges.


E: The first play, you had a lot of martial arts action.  Quick action.  In this one, the action requires much more fluidity and grace.  Which do you prefer?  After all, each genre has its own qualities.

S: Itís a difficult question to answer because I think both speak to a different side of me.  For example, I love having water sleeves, and I like having skirts because itís more flattering to feminine movements.  On the other hand, a skirt covers up nice things like good extension and clean lines, and I have to move soooo slowly, sometimes I want to do something quick and bubbly.  I think ďmunĒ choreography is a greater test of oneís experience than ďmoĒ choreography. 


E: Itís the second time working with Bak and Lum Sifu.  Do you like working with them?

S: I think they have a great rapport with each other, and it rubs off on their students.  They have this vision of how things should go, but if you do it more easily and nicely in another way, then thatís even better for them.  The most important thing to them is that youíre comfortable and natural.  I think that they bring out the best in everybody.


E: A lot of people have commented that this particular play may not be right for us, especially you.  How do you feel about that?

S: It worries me.  For females, flower eggs, the change from single to married is very drastic.  Like I said again, Iím far from being married with children, but I think of it as a challenge.  It definitely stretches my acting and performing skills.  Fortunately, we added in a lot of movements that accentuate our abilities, so at least we have something to fall back on.



S: What is going through your character's head in the skit (refer to West River website)?

E: Iím pretty upset and bitter from the outset.  I canít even imagine how he feels, because his wife was almost killed, and his fatherís dead, and his brotherís dead.  His whole family is messed up.  Itís beyond pissed.  Itís crazy.  I try to think about it myself.  If my wife almost got messed up like that, I would go insane. 

S: Are you having a better time sympathizing with your character this year?  I remember last year, you were so confused, and always asking me, ďHow in the world do they fall in love while fighting?Ē

E: (laughs) I can see the sense in this more than I can see the sense in last yearís.  Last yearís skit was really based in olden days Ėfight for love, fall in love.  Angerís always there.

S: Revenge and cruelty have always been very common themes in humanity.  Love nowadays is different.  Nowadays itís like, ďCan I buy you a drink?Ē

E: Yes!  Revenge and anger Ė you always feel that. 


S: What do you find the hardest about this skit?

E: I think the singing will be a huge challenge for me.  The song is so tragic, and if you donít sing it well or with enough emotion, itís going to be boring.  Lau Gum Ding was so much more lighthearted and fun to watch.  This time, you want the audience to empathize and feel what you feel. 

S: And itís harder to make people cry than make them laugh.

E: Yeah, and West River isnít even about movements.  Itís about the feel, and making others feel with you.  Plus, you and I have to stare into each otherís eyes as if we havenít seen each other in yearsÖOh my Gosh.  Itís so hard.  (laughter)  We canít do it!  Like in Lau Gum Ding, when we made eye contact, we could laugh, but this time, if we laugh, weíre screwed!  (more laughter) 


E: Itís fun working with someone my own age where we can discuss the play, instead of feeling forced into it.  I can get more into character because Iím working with a friend.  You give me a lot more stability and insight about my character.  Sometimes, I donít think in that many ways, but you help.  Every time I talk to you, you help me think more deeply and from different angles.


S: Last year, you both said the best thing about working with each other was communication and being open.  Itís been a year since then.  How has your partnership developed since then?  Have any roles changed?

E: I think weíve grown together more because weíve been through more ďtrials and tribulationsĒ together.  I think we have a deeper bond.  I still canít see our relationship as strictly a business relationship.  I still see you as a friend, so thatís how I see us growing.


S: What are your biggest concerns for this performance?

E: I think itís the singing and the emotional forces of the show.  I think Iíll have a hard time getting into character.  Becoming him, and feeling all that he feels, while Iím on stage.


S: And what is the one thing that puts you most at ease?

E: You and Bak Sifu and Lum Sifu!  And Jared too.  Working with someone Iím comfortable with.  It inspires me.



Red Bean's 7th Annual Performance
The Lioness Roars
a full length play

Interviewed by Erick
Transcribed and translated by Stacey

Erick (E) was able to catch Auntie Laura (LM) and Auntie Linda (LL) during one of the rehearsals, and here's the scoop!

E: How do you feel about your cast members?
LL: I trust them.  I have confidence in them.

E: What does each character do well?
LL: The best thing about them is they learn from those more experienced than them, and they help those behind them.
LM: I think each character has their challenges, and they are all important.

E: It looks like you're having fun with rehearsals!  How have the cast members made your practices memorable?
LM:  I think the best thing is we all communicate, and we all think of each other.   Everyone makes open suggestions; they are honest but don't aim to hurt us.  We all try to see where we can improve and make the best show possible.

E: You're working again with Bak Sifu and Jing Liang Sifu.  What's good about working with them?
LL: These Sifus are very open.  They teach us, but they also are flexible and work with us on our individual needs.  We discuss everything openly.
LM: We've worked with them many times, and they know exactly what we can do, and what we need.

E: How have the Sifus made your play special?
LL: In the Bay Area, this can be considered the first time that all amateurs (except Edward Ma) produced a full-length play.

E: In your team, it appears that Laura is the more serious one, and Linda is the most casual one.
LL: I'm nervous inside, but I just don't show it! (laughter)
E: ARE you nervous?
LL: Of course!  I have to memorize my lines!  In my experience, the most important thing is knowing your lines.  
LM: I'm pretty serious about everything, but this time it's a HUGE challenge (laughter).  At first, I only thought I'd have a few scenes, but as it turns out, I'm in every scene!  I don't have enough confidence in my experience, so of course I'm quite nervous.

E: You've done various other skits before.  Now that you're doing a full-length play, how is your relationship changing?
LM: This play has many emotions: tender, fierce, mean, loving.  Because we've worked together before, we've worked on these emotions as well.  For example, Jun Fei had loving and tender emotions; The Spoiled Princess had the whole spoiled, fierce bit.  So we include them into this play.

E: How do you feel about your working relationship?
LL: We're ok.  The only difference is we're spending a lot more time together now.



This next spotlight features interviews with performers regarding Red Bean's 6th annual show!

Interview with Linda Lee and Laura Ma, by Stacey and Erick


E:         So after your performance are you guys happy?
Linda Lee:   HAPPY!  Everyone is happy. 
Laura Ma:   And HIGH too. 

E:         So how did you think you guys did?
Linda:   I think that the program was very well put together.  The audience was very pleased with our performance.  All the skits met their standards.  
S:         (To Linda) How about your own performances?
LL:        Well my first show was a singing act and I found it pretty challenging.  Luckily I didnít forget any of the lyrics.  So I am quite satisfied.  Jun Fei is my favorite skit out of the three and I already had a feeling that it was going to be a success.  As for Thunder, the skit owes its success to the large supporting cast, all the soldiers and palace maids.  
S:         How about you Auntie Laura?
LM:       Well I only had one skit, so it wasnít too difficult.  Out of all my previous shows this one was the most enjoyable because itís a deeply emotional skit and the singing style presented quite a challenge.  The costumes for Jun Fei were very unique, but the Ching Dynasty shoes were a pain.  Luckily though, I had a lot of help from the Sifus so this time I didnít stumble around.  (laughs)  And of course Linda is a great partner and we have a connection and an understanding so we got really into it.  So I really felt like I was Jun Fei. The show turned out a lot better than I expected.  

S:         When you were waiting in the wings, what types of feelings did you have?
LL:        I didnít feel much.  I was just getting into character.

S:         What kind of feelings did you have on stage?
LL:        I was just in character.  Feeling all that my character was going through.

S:         What about after the show?
LL:        The audience responded enthusiastically, so I am comforted that all our hard work has paid off. 

S:         Auntie Laura, same three questions.
LM:       Well in the wings I was telling myself not to be scared and to remember lines and choreography.  On the stage, I was already in character so I wasnít nervous at all; I was pretty calm. 

S:         How did you react when one of the musicians dropped their cymbals?
E:         Did it break your concentration?
LM:       I was a little startled but it didnít affect me that much.  I was in the middle of singing so luckily it didnít throw me off track.  After the show was over I was really pleased.  I was very happy with the performance, thatís why towards the end of the skit my smile was so toothy.  (she laughs) Iíve been trying not to smile too big but I couldnít help it, but it was ok.  Liang Jing Sifu said it was very natural.  (we all laugh)  We all had a lot of fun this time and everyone is very happy. 
LL:        Yes everyone is happy; the people on stage, the audience, even the musicians are very happy.

E:         (to Linda) This time you asked Ah Sung to be the lead percussionist.  He doesnít have as much experience as some other people but how did you feel about his performance?
LL:        Well this time I think I picked the right person for the job.  Ah Sung is a really nice guy.  Heís very eager and willing to work with us.  We all feel comfortable giving him suggestions and vice versa.  So its like weíre all a team.  Iím very happy with his performance. 

S:         This performance we had the opportunity to have three rehearsal at the theater.  Do you think it helped?
LL:        A LOT!  I think it was very beneficial to everyone including the musicians.  
LM:       I think that it helped everyone feel more comfortable. 

E:         So how do you feel about your working relationship?
LL:        I think that Laura is an ideal partner because she is hard working and very serious about the performance.  So hopefully we can work together in the future.  
E:         What about you Auntie Laura?
LM:       As I said before Linda is a great person to work with because she can lead me into character.  After all, she does have more experience than me.  We both got really into character.  
S:            YeaÖyou guys were prettyÖ.ahÖ..close.  (laughter)


LM:       Yea I was chewing gum right before the show.  (laughs)  I was pretty into the whole thing so I didnít smell Lindaís breath.  (laughs)  Well we had a lot of emotions flying back and forth so even my son was a little concerned.  He was watching and thought that my husband would get jealous.  ( Laughter from all ) So even they saw the kind of steam coming from us both.  
S:         So what is the best thing about working with each other?
LL:        We both know what the other person needs, so we communicate very well.  
LM:       I agree.   I think communication is very important.

S:         What was your favorite scene from the skits?
LL:        I like the end, after I put my robe on Jun Fei.  It got very emotional.
LM:       I also like the end.  I like the part where weíre happy too, because the whole skit is very sad and tragic, so I do like the short part where we talk about being happy together.  My favorite parts overall are where weíre holding each other, because my husband never cuddles me like that.  (laughter)  So I got a chance to be ďdairĒ and helpless!
LL:        In Thunder I also like the end, because in the beginning thereís not a lot of connection between myself and Amy Law.  Thereís more emotion at the end.


Interview with Liang Jing Sifu of Red Bean, by Stacey and Erick

E:         Are you satisfied with RBís show this year?
J:          Iím very happy.  We had a lot of time to prepare for the show, so I was very confident about the success of the show.  And the show did meet all my expectations.  It was very well balanced.

S:         You had a performance yourself, and you also worked with the Hundred Flowers and Jun Fei show.  Can you comment on those?
J:          For my own performance, I was quite happy with it.  In the beginning it was like doing a show, and at the end it was dramatic. 

J:          Hundred Flowers was very good.  The skit is very well put together.  Thereís mostly mun but a little bit of mo.  Leighann is a very hard worker and she put a lot into this performance.  She herself said, ďSuccess doesnít come suddenly.Ē  I agree with her.  Anna has basic skills because she learned Chinese dancing when she was young.  So needless to say, she was superb.  This was a different type of skit for her because sheís done tragedy in the past, and this is a happy skit.  So itís good, it lets her broaden her horizons.  Of course Janet Ma was excellent.  I really respect her attitude towards the show as a whole, because she was a lead role in Little Miss So, and then she was willing to be a supporting cast in Hundred Flowers. 

J:          I did Jun Fei together with Bak Chiu Hung Sifu.  Weíve worked before, so the choreographing went very smoothly.  It was my first time working on a Ching Dynasty show, so there are no water sleeves or other customary opera moves.  Both Linda and Laura, especially Laura, have a great work ethic.  They were really into character.  Laura was really nervous before going out onto the stage, but I told her, ďRelax and perform like you know you can.Ē  Somehow, I had a feeling that they would do well.


Interview with Erick and Stacey, by Emma Fong

Stacey and Erick with Lum Siu Qun and Bak Chiu Hung Sifu

EF:       Now the show is over.  How do you feel about the show overall?
EL:       Oh it went pretty well.  It went really well considering that when we were doing it, I just thought it was ok.  I was having fun, but the crowd was so loud and rowdy, I got pretty high and into it myself.  I felt like they really enjoyed it, so I guess we succeeded.

EF:       When the audience was so rowdy, what was going through your head at the time?
S:         It was nice.
EL:       Yeah, it was like WOW.  ďIf you thought that was cool, wait till you see this!!Ē
S:         It made me really happy that the audience was laughing when we were acting too, like when we were flirting with each other.  Because if we fight, we know that the audience will be impressed with whatever big moves we do anyways.  However, when we were flirting, and they laughed, it meant that they were getting into it.  To me, that meant a lot.
EL:       Yeah, some Sifus told us that everyone knows that we can fight, but whether we can act, sing, or do, thatís a real test of our ability.
S:         So by their enthused responses to our acting, it meant that they believed in what we were doing, and they were getting emotionally involved as well.
EL:       Plus I added in those little moves like grunting or scoffing, which seemed to work well.

EF:       Thatís easy for you, huh?  Because you learned it at home!  (laughter)
EL:       The emotions were hard for me, because thereís not much I can do.  I donít really know what the heck Iím talking about.  And the emotions were pretty simple.  I wasnít trying to ďdairĒ Stacey; I was just responding to what she was doing to me.
EF:       But on the actual day, the little moves you added in really worked.
EL:       That was all ad-libbing.  I just go by whatever feels natural on the day.  (laughter)

This photo provided by Ben Lee.


EF:       What is the first thing you were thinking when you got on stage?  Were you really confident?  Tuesdayís rehearsal wasnít too great.  At least, Stacey wasnít very happy about it.  So what was it like on stage with all those people out there?
S:         Yeah, Tuesdayís rehearsal was really bad, but we came home and watched the tape, so Wed and Thurs went ok.  So on the day of the performance I actually felt really confident.  I think Erick was nervous, though.
EL:            (nodding)  Yeah I was pretty nervous.  My dad was nervous too!  He kept grabbing Stacey and going, ďDonít be nervous!  Be calm!  But remember this and that, and this and that.  But be calm!Ē  I could tell he was really nervous.  I was really nervous too.
S:         Yeah, you kept grabbing my shoulders and going, ďAre you nervous?Ē  But actually, I felt really excited, not nervous.  
S:         I actually felt really in control out there.  But I canít tell you what exactly I was feeling because I was on a cloud, sort of.
EL:       Me neither.  All I remember was that when I was in the wings, I was really concerned that I would forget my lines.  Because all three times we practiced on stage, I forgot my lines at some point.  So I was really scared about it.  I felt pretty confident about the movements though.
EF:       But you guys didnít miss anything.
EL:       No we didnít.  After like the first five minutes I was fine.

EF:       How did you feel in the week leading up?
EL:       I was fine.  Even all the times we practiced, if I forgot my lines, I was like, ďOk whatever.Ē  
S:         I was REALLY uptight.  I could tell I was getting stressed out.  Especially with the stage rehearsal the first day.  I was lost on the stage.  I was really upset.  But afterwards we watched the video and discussed improvements, and it got better Wednesday and Thursday so I felt more confident as the performance day neared.

EF:       Now itís over.  How do you feel?
EL:       Very happy!  I didnít think it was THAT great when we were doing it.  It felt pretty natural, like we were just playing.  But afterwards a lot of people complimented us on a job well done.  Especially people that donít usually give compliments.  So that made me REALLY happy.
S:         I agree.

EF:       You had stage rehearsals before the performance.  Do you think it helped?
S:         I would have died without them.  It would have been like Tuesday, when I was totally lost on stage.  I think Erick wouldíve been fine, but he wouldíve had a tough time adjusting to my being lost.
EL:       I really needed it too.  It was really important for me because thereís a spot on the stage that is hollowed into the ground.  On the second day of rehearsal, I tripped on it.  So I was watching out for it.

EF:       How is your working relationship?
EL:       Really good.  Weíre like the same age, and we talk on the phone a lot about stuff in general, not just opera.  Communicationís pretty good.
S:         Yes, we have a good friendship, on top of our working relationship.  I think thatís really good because we can talk about everything.
EL:       And we can joke around with each other about everything too, so itís pretty laid back. 

This photo provided by Ben Lee

EF:       Whatís the best thing about working with each other?
EL:       She makes me work harder.  (laughter)  Usually with these performances, Iím really laid back.  But sheís like, ďTuesday, Thursday, wake up at 9:00!!Ē  At first I would wake up late all the time, but then I got used to it.  I lost a lot of weight too!  (laughter)  It helped a lot because it kept me in check, kept me practicing at least twice a week.  Itís good for me because sometimes Iím too laid back.
S:         To add to that, I think itís good that we complement each other on many levels.
S:         For me, I like that we watch out for each other, and we can take care of each other when the other needs it.  He takes care of everything I canít take care of, like my costumes, headdresses (laughter).  If Iím nervous, he calms me down, and if heís nervous, I calm him down.
EL:            (nodding)  I also like that in the past when Iíve worked with other people, I donít dare to say anything or give any suggestions.  With Stacey we can talk about everything.
S:         Yeah weíre always discussing if it would be better this way or that way.
EL:       I really like the openness.

EF:       What was your favorite part of the skit?
S:         Of course I felt very confident about the fighting.
EL:       Yes, the first fight scene was very comfortable for me.
S:         But on the day of the performance, I REALLY liked the way the coordination came out when I used my feathers to stroke his face.
EL:            (enthused)  Yeah, that came out REALLY well!!  Sometimes she misses when she strokes me, or sometimes I have to fake it.  But on that day it came out really, really nicely!!
EF:       So you like the same part?
EL:       Yeah, that one was good, because we both did really well on that one.  Everything was right on the money.

EF:       What are your plans for the future?
EL:       (to Stacey)  Weíre sticking together, right?
S:         Sure!

EF:       What kind of show do you plan to do?
EL:       Well since this time we did fighting, we want to do something different next time, maybe mun genre.  In plays where we fight, I donít have many emotions to play with.  In mun plays, there are more emotions and more plot.  Something where thereís stuff happening instead of just expressing our feelings.

EF:       What kind of emotions do you want to explore in the next show?
EL:       Something cute.
S:         Yes, something with lighthearted emotion, that allows us to use our youth to our advantage.
EL:       We definitely canít handle the tragedies yet.
S:         (agreeing) I also think that we would reject the plots of most opera tragedies altogether, with the ultra-traditional views and such.  We just wouldnít be able to relate Ė
EL:       Itís hard.
S:         It is, because we donít live in that type of society anymore.  Itís harder to understand.
EL:       Yes something cute and young is something we would relate to much better, because all young kids go through those stages.


Erick and Stacey with supporting cast (L-R) Angelina, Becky, Denise, Tami.





Our next spotlight falls on Linda Lee!  Stacey and Erick interviewed Linda about Red Bean and its upcoming performance.



E: What shows are you doing?
L: I'm doing two skits and one singing performance.  The singing performance is with Nancy Lee, "Iron Hand Refuses Tender Love."  I'm playing the part of the General "Dik Yun Geet."
E: What is your character like?
L: Mo Just Tin (the queen) wanted to secure her power, and the General was a very high-up official.  Mo Just Tin wanted to get the General on her side, so she tried to use her feminine charms to sway the General.  In this skit, she summons the General, but her purpose is to seduce him.
S&E: Oooooooooooooooooooooooo.
E: What feelings do you have towards this performance?
L: I was supposed to do this as a skit, but then Nancy Lee had a personal situation arise, so she couldn't rehearse.  Therefore, we decided to switch to just singing.  There's actually more pressure than acting, because I'm not used to just standing there singing, and plus I have to memorize the lines.  When acting, the movements help me to remember the lyrics, but standing there, it's harder to remember.  Of course, I'll try my best.

E: What about the other skits?
L: I'm doing a skit with Laura Ma, "Emperor Gwong Shui Warms Jun Fei with Love."  This is our second time working together, so we have a little more chemistry with each other.  
S: Can you tell us what the Emperor is like?
L: He's a very sensitive and dependent person.  Ever since he was young, he was manipulated by the Dowager.  So even though he was, in name, the Emperor, he was just a puppet king.  He became close to Jun Fei and actually wanted to make her queen.  But the Dowager favored her own niece, and made HER the queen.  The Emperor had no feelings towards the queen; he only loved Jun Fei.  Jun Fei is a very strong person.  She wanted to make improvements in the politics, but the Dowager found out and hated Jun Fei.  She imprisoned her in a deep dungeon, separating Jun Fei from the Emperor.  So both the Emperor and Jun Fei missed each other a lot.  The Emperor was thinking of Jun Fei one night, and kept hearing someone call his name.  He wandered into the prison and was reunited with Jun Fei.  The skit is about the torment of not being able to be together.

E: And the last skit?
L: The last skit is with Amy Law, "Thunder and Golden Drums."  The skit is about the Chiu country.  Chun country was at war with the Chiu country and wanted the Chiu princess to marry over to Chun, so there would be peace.  Actually, the princess loved the General Ching Wun, but for her country, she had to marry another.  In this skit, the General is seeing the princess off.  He hates her because he thinks she's betrayed him, and yet he loves her.  The princess expresses her true feelings to the General.  Even though he knows the truth, he must still send her off to the Chun country.

E: Can you relate to any of your characters?
S: Do you think you're similar to or different from them?
L: I'm not like any of them!
E: What are you like then?
L: My personality is tough-looking, but actually tender on the inside.  Maybe all three of these men together are like that, but on their own they only make up a part of me.  The General Dik Yun Geet is a very fiery person.  The Emperor Gwong Shui is very sensitive.  The Ching Wun General is also very passionate.  
E: Since none of these characters are similar to you, how do you make yourself into them?  Is it hard?
L: At first I thought it was hard, but to get into character, I read the script over and over again.  I try to understand the whole story, and the situation.  I tell myself that I AM that character.  I hope that I do a good job at it!

E: You have two skits and one song.  One skit is the Ching Dynasty, the other is traditional clothing, and the song is modern dress.  Which do you feel most comfortable with?
L: I've worn many different costumes in the past.  But I've never worn Ching Dynasty clothing.  It's a challenge for me, because the clothing styles are new, and I've never been such a soft and weak king before.  

S: All three of the performances are tragic, with maybe the exception of the Mo Just Tin.  But nevertheless, none of the skits are COMEDIC.  
L: The Mo Just Tin is not tragic but it involves excitement and surprise.  I'm surprised that the queen is trying to seduce me, and I'm excited, yet I'm afraid to fall under her spell, and I don't know what she's after. 
S:  Why did you pick all of these plays?  I think you would do quite well in a comedic role.
L: Well it's not COMPLETELY my choice.  I have to respect my flower egg's decision too.  With Nancy Lee, it was her first time doing a skit, so she wanted to be beautiful.  Princesses and queens are most beautiful!  So we picked this play.  As for Jun Fei, I asked Laura Ma to do it, because I think that she sings it quite well, and it's a great challenge.  It's a skit with deep and varying emotions, from love to tragedy to frustration.  Out of all the skits, this is my favorite.  It's not easy to display such deep emotions.  As for "Thunder," Amy Law picked it out.  She wanted to do a show with lots of choreography.

E: Would you ever want to try a comedic play?
L: Of course I'd like to.  I think it would come to me more naturally.

E: This time you have three flower eggs.  What is your working relationship like?
L: Nancy Lee was never able to rehearse with me, so I can't comment on that.  Of course, singing is no problem because her voice is so beautiful and she has experience.  Laura Ma is a great partner.  She's very serious.  I like people who take themselves seriously.  I feel very comfortable working with her.  As for Amy Law, she is a very experienced flower egg.  This is the first time working with her as a main character.  I've known her a long time, so working together is very natural.  

E: Who's the boss?
L: None of us, really.  The Sifus are the boss.  We may speak up if there's a movement that we can't do, or that we don't think flows smoothly.  But it's really up to the Sifus.

S: What's the best thing about working with them?
L: I really like the mutual dependence.  I can rely on them, and they can rely on me.  There's more communication that way.

S: What expectations do you have from them?
L: I don't dare to say, "Expectations."  But I do hope they do their best.  I expect nothing less from myself.

S: Laura Ma has done an interview with us before.  In it, she commented that the best thing about working with you is your experience and your ability to lead her emotionally.  Do you agree?
L: Yes, I do, because she does have less experience than I do, but she's very open to suggestions.  She can read my signals, so we communicate very well.

E: How are practices coming along?
L: It shouldn't be a problem now, just working with the percussion.

E: How much confidence do you have?
L: I'm brimming with confidence.
S&E: REALLY??????????
E: How about your partners?
L: I have a lot of confidence in my partners as well.
E: How about the supporting cast?....the ones getting ripped off???? (referring to Stacey and Erick's minor supporting roles in "Thunder")
L: Let's not say that.  The supporting cast are leaves, and we are the peony.  Without the leaves, the peonies would not be beautiful.  Without you, the play is not the same.

E: So the next time we are peonies, you would be our leaves????????????
L: Noooooooooooooooooo problem!  (laughter)  As long as I'm physically ABLE to....don't ask me to do a few somersaults...
E: Nah, I just want you to be a stage prop for me.
L: Noooooooooooooooooooooo problem!!
E: Now YOU said it!
L: Yes yes, and we have the camera bearing witness!!

E: Do you feel any pressure?
L: Not at all.  Actually, out of all the shows I've done, this is the time I've felt the LEAST pressure.

E: You're the Executive Director of Red Bean.
L: Yes.

E: Do you think that the performers of Red Bean have made any improvements?
L: Certainly.  For example, Janet Ma and Laura Ma have made significant progress.  So has Stacey Fong ---
S: That's only because my partner leads me well.
(Erick laughs)
L: Well you have to be able to catch on quickly.  If you don't have the ability, even if your partner was Yoon Siu Fai, it'd be useless!!
S: (joking, to Erick) True.

E: What are your plans for Red Bean next year?
L: Actually I haven't made any plans, but since you asked...Tentatively, if the Great Star Theatre doesn't close down, we'll stay there.  I want to do one full length play on one day, and then have a second day of skits.  If the Great Star Theatre closes, we'll return to the Calvin Simmons Auditorium.  In that case, we'd only have one day of skits.
E: If you do a full length play, what type would you choose?
L: Probably something comedic, with a large cast, so that a lot of people can participate and have fun. 


Tracy Shao, a freelance journalist, interviewed Stacey and Erick about their upcoming Red Bean Performance.

Tracy: Can you  first tell me what your show is about?  Who are you playing, characters?
: (to Stacey) Thatís all you!
Stacey: No, you talk first.
E: No, thatís more your thing, like the synopsis and stuff.
S: Well the synopsis is already on the website, but basically my character is a martial arts warrior and sheís looking for a hubby Ė
E: A hubby? (smiling)
S: Yep.  And she wants one whoís just as good as she is.  She falls in love with Go Gwun Bo because heís soooo cute Ė
E: (proud smile) Thatís right.
S: (giggling)  Yes, so in the first half of the scene sheís very cutesy.  She has spirit and fire but she has to kind of hold it back because she wants to impress him and not turn him off.  Then after they fight sheís supposed to be very tender because she has to convince him that sheís the one for him and heís the one for herÖall that lovely stuff.

T: And Erickís character?
E: Well (smiles) Iím not a general per se, but Iím an officer of the vanguard.  Iím on my way to save the king and Iím in the mountains and I see the sign.  And I find it really offensive and stuff, so I tear down the sign and rip it up.  And she gets all pissed off and we start bickering.  In a way, I AM attracted to her but yet, Iím still appalled by her audacity.
E: So we start fighting, and we end up getting together and exchanging our flowers.
T: What a euphemism!

T: Do you identify with your character, or do you find it fun to play something different from you?
E: Well itís hard to totally relate to what theyíre going through because itís a totally different time period.  You donít often come across a sign like that nowadays.  But in a way it is fun to play someone whoís totally different.
S: I think thereís some of her in me.  Iím no pushover but I can be very tender with people I care about, I try to ďdairĒ them all the time.  But sheís a lot more forward and aggressive with men than I am.  Iím very shy.  But after all, weíre in a different time period.  There are a lot of things she does that I donít agree with, like meeting and marrying some guy within one day.

T: How did you pick this show?
S: Actually, my Kite Ma picked it out (laughter)
E: Yeah, I had nothing to do with it!  My mom called me and said, ďOk youíre doing a show with Stacey.  Youíre doing Lau Gum Ding.Ē  I said ďOk.Ē  Sheís like my manager.  Sheís done this show before so Iím a little familiar with it.
S: Yeah my mom, godsisters, Kite Ma, and I were at a press conference and Erickís mom came up to our table and asked if we knew anyone who could play a ďlittle flower egg who can sing.Ē  So Mom thought they needed a maid or something so she nudged me and said, ďMui, why donít you help them out?Ē  And then she said to Erickís mom, ďSo what show do you need help for?Ē  And she said, ďNo, itís to do a show with my son!Ē  We were very shocked!  Then Kite Ma picked a show and that was that.

T: So this is your first starring role?
S: Yes
T: How do you feel about it?
S: Nervous and excited of course.
T: Proud too?
S: I guess?

T: How have practices been coming along?  Take us through the process.
E: (to Stacey) When did we start?
S: Spring break.
E: Yeah, Sifu and Stacey already had choreographed the whole thing, so Sifu filled me in on it.  A lot of it was a work in progress.  We had ideas of our own that we wanted to incorporate and talked about it, and then asked the Sifus if it was ok.  It was actually pretty good because weíre both just as enthusiastic about the show.  
S: At first I was really concerned because I was afraid I wouldnít get things in time, because like I said itís my first time.  But the more we practiced the more comfortable I got, so now I can let go and have a bit of fun with it.  Heís very good about that.

T: What kind of ideas did you incorporate into it?
S: He had a lot of ideas in the spear fighting.  I had some ideas for the fist fighting.
E: Yeah she added a lot in the first fighting.  It was all her.
S: But the spear fighting is all him.

T: Because youíre both young and youíre both ABC, do you feel that your show takes on a different perspective, a different feeling?  Is it more modern?
E: Itís more lively.  Weíre physically able to do more just because weíre younger.
S: Yes.
E: Thereís a lot more fighting stuff.  We have more power, more enthusiasm.
S: Plus, itís a very young show and itís about young love.  So I think it fits us better than if we tried to do something mature.

T: How about the rest of the cast?  How are you getting along?
S: Weíre getting along great.

T: Stacey, you have to take care of 4 other girls.  How do you feel?  Is it annoying?
S: No, not at all!  Because if I think about it, Erick has to take care of 5 other girls!
E: (laughs) No!
S: So, itís not that bad.  And theyíre all smart and catch on very quickly. (laughter)  Theyíre all easy to work with.

T:  Are you nervous about the show?
E: Iím actually not too bad.  Iím ok.  The only thing Iím scared of is if I have a big movement that I could fall or trip.  Or that my hat will fall off.  But other than that, I should be ok.  Iím saying that NOW, but laterÖ.five minutes before stage timeÖ(laughter)
S: I think I have the same feeling, but I have three major concerns: One that my headdress will fall off because we have a lot of big moves and itís fallen off before.  Iím afraid I wonít be able to get up from the split.  And itís hard for me to remember my teeny little round table steps when the guyís sticking a spear in my face! (laughter)

T: Erick, how have you managed to balance college and the show?
E: Well during Spring Break we practiced, and Stacey recorded it for me.  So it was good because I could go back to the dorms and watch it.  I also brought my spear and boots down with me.
T: (laughing) How did your dorm mates feel about that?!
E: It was interesting!  I walk around in my boots and theyíre like, ďOh my gosh, you grew!Ē  Then I point to the boots.  I couldnít go to the gym though, I thought itíd be weird with all my equipment.  So I couldnít practice the big stuff.  But itís difficult.  Like at home, I can get up and start singing as loudly as I can.  But at the dorms, I canít.  But, itís ok, overall.

T: Do you feel you miss out on doing other teenage activities?
E: I donít think so.  I donít dance, I donít like to club.  I donít drink, donít smoke.  I still watch movies.  There are just those activities that we donít care for, like dancing.
S: (nodding in agreement) Not everyone can dance like you Trace.

T: How do you find your working relationship?
E: Pretty good.  Weíre both open so if we have suggestions weíre upfront.
T: Do you feel youíre more similar, or more opposite?
S: I think that in some ways weíre very similar, and in other ways we complement each other.  I think we have the same philosophy and enthusiasm for the show.  But heís very lighthearted, and I can be very serious.  I like to organize stuff.  He likes to work on the costumes and the details.  So it works out very well.
E: Sheís VERY well organized.  (Tracy starts laughing)  Last week we planned out this whole week and what weíre going to do.  Usually Iím just like, ďOk.  Whatever.  Sure!Ē   Sheís very good, keeps me on track.  Like with all the emails arranging the final goks, there are so many emails.  I canít handle it!  Stacey will plan and write, ďIím ok.  Are you ok Erick?Ē  I just say, ďYes!Ē

T: Have you learned anything from working with each other?
E: Itís a LOT more fun working with someone your own age!  
S: I agree.
E: Our communication is a lot better.  If I work with older people, I feel inferior to them, so I donít want to point things out like, ďOhÖthat doesnít look right.Ē  I donít want to offend them.  But we can be open with each other.

T: Erick youíre the one with all the experience, but youíre younger than Stacey.  How does that dynamic work out?  Is it awkward?  
E: Well it doesnít bother me because weíre pretty open with each other.  And itís not like the age difference is big, like 6 years or more.  Our thinking is still the same.  And she helps me with other things too, like my resume.  So itís a give and take thing.
S: Yeah, I have no problem taking suggestions from him.  I trust him.
E: Cool!

T: What do you find are each otherís best and worst qualities?  HONESTLY!
S: I think he makes me feel like Iím very well taken care of.  
E: I do?
S: Yes!  So I feel very safe, poetically speaking, because heís holding my hand.  But at the same time I feel a great sense of freedom and abandon.  I donít feel like heís holding me back from myself.
T: And worst quality?
S: He makes me look bad.
E: Oh come on!  No I donít!  Youíre tripping!
S: Yes you do!
E: No, no no no.

T: Ok, Erick, your turn.
E: Good quality - I like the openness in working with each other.  Iíve given a lot more input on this show than any of my other ones.  Everyone else Iíve worked with, I canít be as open with.  This way thereís a give and take.  She put a lot of input on the fighting and helps me out, since Iím not here all the time, she fills me in on things like the plot and choreography.  Because I donít know what the heck Iím saying, sheíll explain, ďIím saying this, and youíre saying that.Ē  Iím like, ďOh ok, that makes sense.Ē
T: Worst?  One thing you would change about her?
E: (scratching head) I donít know.  Thereís really nothing!  Everythingís pretty good!

T: Anything the other can improve on?  Performance, working wise?
E: I think sheís pretty good for a first lead role.  Itís REALLY good.  She can do a lot more than most other people.

T: Do you like the singing better, or the fighting?
S&E: The fighting, definitely.
S: The singingís not AWFUL, but itís really hard for him.  He has to scream the whole time.
E: Yes, itís a very high pitch.  But she has a lot more singing than I do.  
S: Yes but mine is very much playing with the melody and tune.
E: See I like that kind of stuff!  I canít play much with my tunes because itís so high, I canít go anywhere else.  With yours your voice doesnít have as many limitations. 

T: Whatís your favorite aspect of opera, performing, rehearsals, costumes?
E: I like the costumes and makeup, just because I like to fiddle around with what I like to wear. (wrinkles forehead)  That sounds kind of girly though (laughter) Öbut I do like mixing and matching what I want, according to what Iím doing.  I love fiddling with my headgear, to make it look better.
T: Itís artistic. 
E: Yes.
S: I think I like the fact that in opera, or any performance arts, itís a safe way for you to act out your fantasies and almost do them.  Except in this show, I flirt with him the whole time and he doesnít really respond.

T: Thatís not a dream!  (laughs)
S: Thatís basically what happens to me in real life anyways.  (Erick laughs)   So next time around Iíll make him flirt with me!  (laughter)

T: Stacey in real life youíre kind of shy and quiet-spoken, so on stage, itís very different.
S: Yeah it lets me show off a bit.  (laughs)
E: Whatís good about opera is that even in performing arts, I donít feel secure because my outward appearance is still me.  But in opera, you have your makeup and your costume, and you can do all these things.  Youíre totally covered from head to toe.  In Western plays people can still recognize you.  In opera, itís fun to be able to appearance wise be another person.
T & S: Great point!

T: Do you feel this is just a hobby for your, or something you want to develop?
S: Both.
E: Yeah. (smiles)

T: Where do you have to go with it?
E: Nowhere. (laughs)
S: (giggling) Iíd like to know what happens when we get older and our voices mature, and our faces mature.  Will the accent improve?   How will we grow?  Itíll be fun to track our development.
T: So you plan to keep going.
E: Yes, I intend to continue on.

T: What do you take from opera that improves you as a person?
E: I learn a lot about my culture.  And it keeps me in shape.  If I didnít have this, I wouldnít be doing anything else, be sweating any other way.  So it keeps me in shape.  I love learning about my culture.  I take literature classes in college and we read the translations of the stories, and I know a lot of them from opera!  Itís really interesting.
S: I think I can definitely read more Chinese than I could when I started opera.  I took Chinese school of course, but reading song sheets and karaoke, I can guess the second half of the words if I know the first half.  
E: Her Chinese is a lot better than mine.  I can only read maybe 1/32 of all the words.
T: Both your Chinese is a lot better than mine. (laughter)

T: Ok now Iím going to ask you questions about each other, and you have to answer at the same time, quickly.

T: Whoís more naturally gifted?
S: (very fast) Him.
E: What?  (laughs)  Naturally?  I donít know.  You canít tell.
S: WellÖitís hard because heís more experienced.
E: Yeah, but overallÖ.giftedÖI donít know!
S:  I guess we could venture to say weíre fairly matched.
E: Yeah.

T: Whoís more stubborn?
E: I donít think weíre very stubborn at all!
S: Yeah weíre not stubborn!
T: Everybodyís just like ok?
E: Yeah weíre like, ďSure, ok, whatever!Ē

T: Whoís more laid back?
S: Him.
E: Yeah I think so.

T: Who works harder?
E: I think she does.  I can tell she puts more effort in it than I do.
S: Well I have to catch up with you!

T: Whoís the better singer?
E: Thatís hard to say (Stacey starts laughing)  Weíre both not very good (he laughs).

T: Whoís the better fighter?
S: Him.
E: I think thatís just experience, since I know more.

T: Whoís more of a leader?
E: I think she is.

T: Whoís more bossy?  
E: I donít think weíre bossy.  We donít boss each other around.  We ask.
S: Yeah, we talk.

T: Whoís more patient?
S: Him.
E:  Well youíre not very impatient.
S: Iím not impatient with you, but Iím impatient with myself.  But luckily when Iím with him that side doesnít come out because he balances me out.
E: I donít see a lot of impatience from her.

T: Whoís more confident?
S: Him.
E: Yeah I think so.  You seem very, ďOh noÖĒ (he imitates Staceyís scared expression.  Stacey laughs)  Thatís totally understandable.  Thatís why I try to make you feel more comfortable, because you should be.

T: Whoís more scatterbrained?
S: My mom. (hysterical laughter)  I love you Mom!

T: Whoís more humorous?
S: Him.
E: Yeah, Iím more of a hee-hee-ha-ha kind of person.






We interviewed Laura about her upcoming Red Bean performance, and about her managerial skills.

Stacey: Can you explain the scene to us?
Laura: This scene is set in the Ching Dynasty. Itís about the romance btwn Jun Fei and Guong Siur. Chi Hay, the empress, was very jealous of Jun Fei because she got involved in the politics and was so close to Emperor Guong Siur. So she locked Jun Fei in a deep dungeon. In the scene Guong Siur is thinking about Jun Fei and wanders into the prison.

What is your character like? How is she feeling or thinking in this scene?
Jun Fei is very strong and not afraid of power, and she really wants to help the emperor to improve the politics of the time. But she couldnít overcome the power of the Dowager. In the scene sheís so very happy to see the emperor, but they are also angry about the situation and the Dowager. So there are lots of emotions Ė very tender and loving, very angry, and very tragic. It goes from high to low.

How is she similar/different from you? How do you relate to her emotions in this scene?
Iím also a very strong-minded like Jun Fei and a stubborn person.  I treat people fairly and very honestly Ė if people treat me well, I treat them well too, and vice versa. Of course, Iím not used to being a concubine, so maybe I donít know how to pamper the ďking,Ē but there are some similarities between me and Jun Fei.

Why did you pick this skit?
Actually it wasnít me. It was Linda Lee, who thought that I sung the song with a lot of emotion, and she wanted me to try out  an emotional skit. And the skit is also very unique Ė itís set in the Ching Dynasty so the costumes and movements are different from the traditional opera.  She is the one who talked me into it.

What kind of roles do you like to pick Ė those that are similar to you in personality, or those that are different? Why?
It doesnít really matter to me. Because I want to have fun, I want to try out different personalities, from a spoiled brat to a very grand person. Usually I pick the skit first and then decide if the character is similar to me or not.

This role is unique for you in that you wear a Ching Dynasty costume: no water sleeves, and special shoes. Does this present a challenge for you? 
The dress is different of course, but the most unique are the shoes. I donít even know what theyíre called but they have the ďheelĒ in the center of the shoe. Itís a huge challenge, so I ordered the shoes very early on, and learned to walk at home so I wonít look like Iím tripping around. Although itís very difficult to walk in these shoes, in the skit, Jun Fei is supposed to be injured and hurt because sheís been beaten and mistreated. So it kind of helps me a bit! People wonít know if Iím tripping because I canít walk right or because Iím hurt and frail. I named this movement as the famous Jun Fei painful walk!

How is it easier?
Of course itís easier without water sleeves because I hate handling the water sleeves! But I do have a handkerchief, and Sifu loves to use this handkerchief in all my movements. But because I donít have the water sleeves, I canít hide any of my flaws in my hand movements! So I do have to work on those.

The last show you did, you played a spoiled princess. Jun Fei is a much more tragic character. Itís a complete opposite. Can you compare the two shows? Which was easier/harder?
Each show had itís own aspects. I think Spoiled Princess was easier because there were lots of little movements, no long melodies, and the emotions Ė because I was a spoiled brat, I feel the emotions were ďshallowerĒ and easier to display, rather than inwardly expressed emotions as with Jun Fei. And there was also a lot of dialogue in Spoiled Princess, which made it easier to communicate with the partner.

With Jun Fei, thereís a lot of long melodies and very mun [see About Opera for reference], plus thereís a lot of tender and loving movements and emotions in it. I wasnít used to it at all at first. But Linda is a very experienced performer and she brings me into the skit very well. So now I think itís fun!

How does the tragedy affect your mindset going into the show?
My mindset is that I have to be in character. I have to really love Guong Siur and feel helpless to help him. Itís very challenging.

Which character do you think youíre more like Ė Jun Fei or the Spoiled Princess?
Iím like both of them! Iím not as tender as Jun Fei, but I do have some of the ďspoiledĒ aspects. Iím also very strong and brave, stubborn, like Jun Fei. But, Iím a very happy person, so I havenít completely gotten to the tragic side of her yet.

Would you prefer to play a tragic or comedic character in the next show?
The next one I want to beat people up!!! I want to be a powerful character! Iíve done mun (dramatic?), tragic, dancing, but never a mo [see About Opera for reference] play before. Of course, at my age Iím not about to do what you youngsters can do, like the splits, etc.  But I do want to try to do it once.

What is it like working with your partner? 
Very nice. Sheís very experienced so she can bring you into character. Sheís also done a lot of mun plays so she can lead my emotions very well there. Sheís always watching out for me, reminding me. She even remembers my lines too! I feel very comfortable and I feel like weíre helping each other out, watching each other. Weíre not picking on each other. So itís a good relationship.

Whoís the boss?  :)
Thereís no boss Ė except for the Sifus, of course! But if we think something isnít smooth, we talk about it openly. Weíre all very agreeable and in sync with the other.

Whatís the best thing about working with her?
Sheís a good performer and leads me along. So I donít have to worry about her, just myself

Youíre working with Leung Ching Sifu for this skit. How has she helped develop your skills as a performer?
She demonstrates for me and explains the character, meaning of the movements, eye contact and emotion contact with my partner, and demonstrate how music and movement works to me. Sheís also worked with me from day one, so she customizes things to my abilities and knows how far she can push me. Helen also helps us to tape each practice so I can watch the tape and train myself at home.  That's really helpful to speed up and help out with my training.

What do you expect from yourself in this skit?
Of course I want to do well, because I spend a lot of time and effort on each skit. The song is very hard to sing this time so Iíve worked a lot on that with Fun Sifu ahead of time. There are the movements I have to worry about. Of course I have to think about my emotions with my partner as well.

What do you expect from your partner?
Nothing really because sheís exceeded all my expectations!!! (laughs) I just hope I can meet HER expectations.

What do you expect from the skit overall?
I hope it works out well because Iím really happy with the choreography. I hope we can perform it to the best. A lot of friends have seen the Karoake version and said that our choreography was much better. So that gives me a lot of confidence. So, I hope that the Sifus will be happy with our performance.

What do you expect overall for the RB show?
Naturally that everyone does their best and puts their best effort into the skit. The audience doesnít go JUST to watch me or just one skit. I hope everyone can do well so that the audience will enjoy the whole show, not just one. This will not only reflect well on Red Bean, but on all the performers.

What inspires you as a performer? What made you want to become a performer?
I got into the character, into the skits. The character really inspires me and draws me into it. The song and the choreography, of course, make a difference. For example when I agreed to do this show, I just knew that I loved to sing the song. But then I discovered that the character was so tender and close to the king, and it made me fall in love with Jun Feiís character because I wanted to do it well. Plus, my partner leads me into it very well.

Now letís talk about your skills as a manager!  Youíre playing a lead role in RBís show in July, but youíre also organizing rehearsal and singing goks for all the performers.  You also organized the Tri-Valley performance last year, and we hope you have more coming up!  These abilities are not easy to come by.

How do you manage to play a difficult lead role AND take care of your supporting cast, AND take care of the entire show?
First you have to think through and have  a well- organized plan. What do I want? Why I want to do it? Do I have enough time? Who I should involve?  if I am the other person? What do I expect? If itís teamwork, everyone has to be willing to put an effort into it. You always need a middle person to coordinate stuff. I ask everyoneís opinion and respect it. Of course, you have to know what people can help you out, and what you can do yourself.

What do you think is more stressful Ė performing or organizing? Why?
Of course, performing is more stressful! (laughs) Organization Ė I do that every single day at work, so itís just another day at the office for me but it does take lots of time Performing comes second Ė itís my hobby, just something I like and learn but I do get stress out from it. Because of my laziness and too busy with other personal life and enjoyment, I donít spend  that much time to put into it in advance . But, I want to do well when I face the audiences! So, it leads to some conflicts and pressure come along . It usually leads to ďpraying at the last minuteĒ and testing of my natural talent! However, the result of performance is so excited and fun after all. Therefore, I don't mind to perform once for while as something to lighten up my life when time allows.

Even though organizing takes time, I can plan ahead and again, I do this everyday, so it comes more naturally.

What inspired you to organize so many events, specifically with opera? Is it because you DO do it everyday?
Thatís one reason, because you know, SOMEONE has to do it if no one is willing to do it!. Once I got committed and get  my hair WET, so I might as well go on and finish the job the best I could. If people are willing to work with me, Iím willing to organize it if time allows and the objective of the event is motivated and meaningful. This time with Red Bean, Iím not the management but willing to help out with rehearsals scheduling, since I myself need to rehearse, so I might as well make things easier for other performers as well.

This week's spotlight falls on...Veronica Lew!  We interviewed Veronica about her upcoming performance.

Stacey:  Can you tell us a little about your character?  What is her personality like?  What is she going through in this scene?

Veronica:  She is a princess.  The scene does not really focus on her role; it focuses on Ging Ngo, who is the hero.  She is a very graceful princess.  I think she's pretty young, just at the appropriate age for marriage [at that time].  She really doesn't want her husband to go, but on the other hand, she is proud of him for his bravery.  So I think it's a difficult role because of the mixed emotions.  I would say it will be a challenge.
S: Can you tell us about Ging Ngo's personality then?

V:  He knows that all his life he's been waiting for the chance to become important, and that's the right time for him to become important.  So he accepts the mission and volunteers to assassinate the king.

S:  This will be your first show as a female role.  How do you feel about it?  What are some of your own emotions going into it?

V:  I'm just as nervous as anything!!!  I don't think I'm prepared this time, but I take it as a challenge.  This is only my second time of being on stage, so really I don't have enough experience to comment on this.  

S:  Can you compare your feelings in your first show where you played a male, to this show, where you play a female, in terms of how well prepared you are, how much pressure you  feel?

V:  The first time, the experience was more fun than the show, because I was being motivated by my friends, and at that time, I was not really ready to put on a show.  I was just having fun.  It was like a game.  So we could spend a lot of time talking about it, getting things ready, discussing changes.  I was not that nervous, because I really don't' know what the audience will expect from me.  But this time, since it's my second time, number one I was not well prepared because it was very short notice and we made the decision only 3-4 weeks ago.  I really have not taken any classes to get this show ready.  The second important thing is my partner is a professional.

S: And how do you feel working with a pro?

V:  Well, I have pros and cons about that.  The good side is HE knows what he's doing, so he can help me.  Even if I'm going out there with a lot of bloopers, he can rescue me right there.  The bad side is I probably will look really stupid (laughs) when you're doing it with a professional.  But I'll just give it a try.  I will keep a positive attitude and hope everything's ok.

S:  You've played a male before, and now you're playing a female.  Which do you prefer?

V:  Honestly, I like to be a male, especially the warrior, on stage.  The reason is because since I'm on stage, I try to be as dramatic as possible, so it's fun.  When you're doing some characters completely different from your real life, being a warrior, it's fun.  I can exaggerate, and even off stage it's fun to talk about it.  Being a female, I have to be more cautious, because even in real life I'm not a very feminine person (laughter).  It's really hard, and being a princess is even harder.  Every movement has to be very graceful.  But I enjoy singing a female more, because I think I can express the emotions better.  So actually I like being different roles, regardless of male/female.  I want to try different roles on stage.

S:  Have you ever considered just picking one role and sticking with it?

V:  Not yet.  I really will choose my show based on the stage character.  If I really like that role, I will play it regardless of whether I'll be a hero or villain, a princess or a prostitute.  

S:  Can you tell us how you get into character for your role?  How you gather your thoughts backstage.  How do you get into it?

V:  It comes to me naturally, I think.  The more the learn about the song and know about the story, it automatically comes to me.  Last week, for the first time, I cried at my rehearsal, and I don't even know why!  I have sung the song many many times, know about the story...I've never cried before.  But I guess the more I know about the character, the more I get into the character, I start to have real emotions, real feelings towards the character.  

S:  Can you comment a bit on your partner?  What's it like working with him?

V:  I only sang with him, but we haven't rehearsed together yet.

S:  How do you feel about that?

V:  I really want to have more practice with him, but I guess that's based on his schedule and we probably won't be able to do anything together until the next two weeks.  Since he's a professional and it's a short skit, I think he can handle it.

S:  Would you prefer, in the future, to do a show with a professional, or with a fellow friend?

V:  It depends.  I think I like the process of getting our acts together, so that would make a lot of difference if I do it with my own friends, because we have to go through a lot together.  A lot of discussions, a lot of changes.  If we're looking at things from the same perspective, I think we can communicate much better, than if we're from different levels.  
Right now I just feel like I'm a little student, holding onto the teacher's hand, going out on a field trip!  It's not like a school project you do with your own classmates.  Right now I'm just like going to the museum with my teacher and looking at things that are not really initiated by me.  I'm just being told to do this and told to do that.  I think there's a little less inspiration.  
I like to learn from professionals to gain more stage experience.  But I would probably not enjoy the process as much as I would enjoy it with my own friends.

S:  Can you tell us what you expect of yourself from the show?  And then tell us what you expect from your skit.

V:  Honestly, I don't expect much from myself.  I try not to put pressure on myself, so not making any bloopers is my goal.  I really don't expect to achieve any higher level of my acting skills, or any special recognition from the audience or from the critics.  As long as I'm not making mistakes I consider that success, because there's really not enough time and I'm not really ready to play a female role yet.   I will try my best and as long as I'm not making bloopers and people are not talking behind my back, and I'm not becoming the laughing stock of the town (laughs), I'll be happy!
I think the show is very good, because the song is very good.  It's only a 20 minute show, so I think people will accept it easily.  I don't think they will expect too much from an amateur, so the focus is probably on the professional anyways.  I don't think he will disappoint the audience.

S:  And Ho Siu-Po is actually doing three other shows, besides yours.  How do you expect him to be able to handle everything?

V:  I think he can handle it pretty well because his career is opera, and the average full length play they do is about 2.5-3 hours.  The four excerpts won't be more than two hours total.  The other plays, I think, are well known stories, that he's done many times in China already.  For him, it's just another day at the office.

S:  Can you tell us what drew you to Chinese opera in the first place?

V:  I never paid much attention to Chinese opera 2-3 years ago.  I had not even watched many of them, even when I was in Hong Kong.  Until I went to parties with some friends and started seeing that they had pretty good Karaoke productions.  I met some friends who are really opera fans, and they sort of motivated me a lot.  I started learning it.  And the more I know, the more I like it!  So I started doing it!

V: I want to add that I'm in the process of learning this art.  One thing I'm really happy about is I've made a lot of good friends.  Especially the younger generation.  We feel like we have a way for this culture to continue, even when we're not in China.  This is heartwarming and I'm so happy to see that our culture can survive in a foreign land and I'm proud to be part of it.







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