Sharmilla Ganesan in Starmag today writes about the So You Can Think You Can Write? event organised by The British Council. Ten stories were chosen, my own among them, and performed by members of Instant Cafe Theatre at the PJ Live Arts Centre.
It was an excellent idea - I found it fascinating to hear how an actress (in this case Joanne Bessey) read my work, and the comments afterward from the panel of judges (author Ardashir Vakil, playwright Ben Payne, British Council Malaysia education and programmes director Peter Clack, and ZI Publications publisher Ezra Mohd Zaid) were encouraging. So ... the setting needs work but I had "great control" and there was pleasing symmetry. I was happy with that, and know what to work on.
(I did record my story for those of you who asked me to ... but apologise for the poor quality.)
We didn't know which story had been written by whom, and we voted for the one we liked best. :
Writes Sharmilla :
What was impressive about the stories presented was the sheer diversity of themes and ideas – and yet, they retained a uniquely Malaysian identity.Datuk Dr M. Shanmughalingam won for most popular story for his Rani Taxis Away :
Some revolved around simple, everyday experiences that told a much deeper story. For example, It’s Alright, Auntie explored, through a child’s eyes, his parents’ hollow marriage, while Martha Falling is filled with vivid imagery centred on a woman dealing with the loss of her unborn child.
Others looked at the greyer areas of life, such as Intermission, which speaks honestly about a woman’s broken marriage and her subsequent attraction to a much younger man. There were others that took on darker, even spooky, undertones, such as A String of Pearls and A Walk in the Dark.
Ezra found this very encouraging. “What’s amazing is how these writers presented such a huge variety of stories and viewpoints. Each reading had something different from the one before!” he said.
... a simple but touching tale of an Indian girl in post-Independence Malaysia who finds her own freedom in small ways.and will receive a Professional Development Planning Programme mentored by Spread the Word which will help him devise a route forward in creative writing. I'm very pleased for Shan and I hope that this award encourages him to - finally - get a book out.
It was unfortunate that the timing went awry and most of the audience had drifted away before the end, but I hope that we do have more events of this kind. Many thanks to the British Council and to Instant Cafe for putting this together.