Writing from the Heart : Finale

3 Jun

Like the green Just for Laughs monster-whiner on TV, I lamented the inevitable end to the week-long playwriting workshop with Tony Perez.

But as with all things, nothing is forever. Life will go on. So back to the recap.

Weird as it was starting the session in daylight, we settled quickly into the circle and began another day of exploration.

Defense mechanisms

The Ego uses it as a weapon, wielding either constructively or destructively…

Tony began a roll call of these little monsters in the cupboard.

Identification. Denial. Avoidance. Isolation.  Repression. Aggression. Regression. Rationalisation.  Projection. Compartmentalisation. Reaction formation.  Displacement.  Ritual & Ritual thinking.  Rumination & excessive thinking.  Fantasy & Escapism.  Compensation. Intellectualisation. Sublimation…

It was beginning to look a lot like Psychology 101.

“All these help give texture to dialogue and characters. Creating immediate tension,” Tony said.

We all tried our hands at it and I was stoked. Because for the longest time my characters were always so.darn.boring!

Now I know what I can do. *twirl pen with glee* Level Up!

S: Why… (whines) Why must you go? Don’t you love us anymore?

B: Pass me the salt. I think this cake needs a little flavour. Did you know that in all sweet desserts you can/

S: I don’t wanna know about cake. I want you to stay here with me! Not her! She sucks. (pout)

B: Mmm, salt is good. Especially sea salt.

Can you guess which two I picked as inspiration?

Playing story Boggle

Like athletes, we as writers need to train our stamina. We need to be able to write on cue and sustain that ability to create.

Throwing random objects into the circle, Tony had us vomitting all the word associations out.

A black paper envelope. ..
An orange lighter…
A strange metallic square medallion….
The sand slipped quickly by and we shot out words as fast as we could in response.

Lighter→ light, love, affair, burnt, hotel, fire, tragedy, lost.


“Now make a sentence with those words!” Tony pushed, like a gym instructer, looking absolutely nothing like it.

Switching off the light, my love let our sweet affair burn this hotel and brought fire to tragedy lost.

Argh! Don’t know what that even means!

The others were so brilliant though.

Venturing into dreamland and confronting my shadow
So… we were told to bring make up.  I knew we were going to”paint our faces” and become our Shadows. 

But I could not have guessed what came next (not very pre cognitive am I).

“This is a serious exercise. (pause for dramatic effect). Ok, now with your shadow face, take a walk outside Theatreworks, by yourself. For 15mins. ”

No way. Seriously??? 

I panicked!

“omg omg omg omg omg omg omg (repeat)” I ruminated as the exercise objectives sunk in. My ears roared as blood rushed to my head. My face already red with lipstick, drained.

And then. .. in a rare display of courage, despite wobbling a little and floating a bit, I went out.


Taking a walk downtown.. my shadow and me

To be honest, what happened next was not as bad as I had imagined.  It helped that I wasn’t alone in the crowd with the painted face. Also, I observed that people actually avoid looking at me in the eyes.  Those rare few that did, would smile or just say Hi. Not most Singaporeans though. Perhaps they were being polite or just too shy to ask.

It was strangely liberating.

A circle of trust

We started knowing each other through a drawing of our hearts. Be it closed, strangled, open,  vulnerable,  colourful,  jaded, flying, sinking,  blossoming… we shared them.  I thought I would be weakened being so exposed, but instead, I felt my heart grow a thousand heartbeats stronger over the past few days.

And so it seemed apt that we ended with another drawing. It could have ended there but Tony surprises us yet again.

“This week, I took responsibility for all of you. Now, it is your turn to take care of each other.”

One by one, we left the circle to pick a picture off the floor. We were tasked to be responsible for the owner of that picture. And for a week we will take care of our partner. And in a week, we will meet again and return their picture.

It gets to continue! I was thrilled.


See you in a week!



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