getting to know malaysians

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ShowBusiness & All That Jazz

A cleaner has just entered the theatre, and Ming-Jin says, "Tunggu." Another photographer arrives for the press conference and wants to take pictures of the Lady White Snake dancers. Ming-Jin tells him to go ahead, then heads for his little office which also doubles as the ticketing booth.

Ming-Jin then talks about a new MacIntosh computer program which the company wants to test out during the theatre's first anniversary celebration, Remembering Ella Fitzgerald, on August 9. While chatting he has to answer the telephone and entertain queries by the callers. He does all this politely and patiently. More reporters arrive and he gets up to show one of them the rest of the Studio. When he finishes the tour he takes the press to the theatre itself and asks the performers if the lights and music are ready for them to perform the beginning of the dance for the benefit of the press. The conference started a little after 11:00 a.m. because they had to shoo a little mouse out of the theatre.

At the end of the press conference, Ming-Jin does some PR by handing out free posters and programmes to the reporters. As the press are leaving, posters and souvenir post-cards of a coming act are brought in to him by the printing shop to vet. Like the perfectionist that he is, he proofs the text letter by letter. At the same time he is still answering phone calls, rushing around the office looking into files to confirm some bit of information, while clutching the poster proof. All the while the printing shop man and the poster artist urge him to hurry up with his proofing.

Just before lunch the publicity material for Lady White Snake arrive. Ming-Jin is as excited as a child to receive them. We all go for lunch at 1:30 p.m. but Ming-Jin seems distracted. In the Red Room a rehearsal is in session for the whole day. During the hasty nasi kandar lunch with the performers, the stage designer, and the poster designer, everyone continued to talk show business. Ming Jin swallowed his lunch in a jiffy and wanted to go back to work but everyone chorused, "No, you can't go!" and made him stay back.

After lunch, he sits in front of his PC to design the tickets. He has also devised a ticket distribution system to keep track on the computer of all tickets sold. He gives a stack of printed tickets to Kennedy to collate according to the serial numbers and ticket colours. After the ticket distribution forms have been printed out from the computer, Ming-Jin goes out to the theatre lobby to decide how to hang the posters he had received before lunch. You wouldn't have guessed it but this is a chore which requires a large measure of tact and diplomacy on his part. "I have to be careful when hanging the posters because others acts may complain of favouritism in the way I display another's act publicity material," he explained.

We then all squeezed into Ming-Jin's white VW bug to distribute tickets to the Chinese Assembly, the Purple Cane Tea House and two other places. "I've driven this VW around Malaysia twice, and even to Thailand, but that was before I started this job," he said, as he whizzes in-between the cars on the road. The after-office hour traffic gets the better of Ming-Jin's driving on the way back and he misses his 5:00 p.m. meeting. He apologises gracefully and profusely for being almost one hour late but immediately has to go in for his 6:00 p.m. appointment with Mervin, the lighting and sound technician for Actors Studio.

At this time he spoke of having had to raise the stage nine inches from the ground, and the lighting bar as well. "On my first day at work here in April, I arrived to find the theatre flooded! That's when we decided to raise the stage. I've had to learn everything very fast, and whatever I don't know how to solve I ask Mervin who has been with the studio for the last eight years," he said.

As the evening winds down he has one last short meeting with the theatre lighting instructor who will be conducting weekend workshops at the studio. He gets a phone call from Faridah and confers with her for about an hour. Then he bids goodnight to his assistant, Jeffrey, and leaves for home. As he gets into his car, he sighs, "And this was one of my less busy days." By the way, Ming-Jin is only 24, and he and his assistant, Jeffrey, would like to thank you for supporting the Malaysian theatre.


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