Once in a while, I encounter a tough post to write. This is one of those. It’s difficult not because I have nothing to say, but rather, having so much thoughts and emotions to pen down that my neurons short-circuited my ECG as soon as I start to comprehend the contents in this entry. A complete shutdown in my brain occurs, blankness sets in, and I’m left staring at the computer screen, stumped for what to write.
Where should I begin? What do I want to say? How should I start talking about a past I’m ashamed of?
Here’s how this story goes…
In 1994, I took part in a play written by Theresa Tan and directed by Alvin Tan, Founder and Artistic Director of The Necessary Stage.
I’ve dabbled in stage acting and been in a couple of small theatre productions but this play was nothing like those before. This one was very personal. It dealt with a time when I thought about taking my own life.
Titled “‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky” (from the lyrics of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’), the play was an experimental concept where the stories were based on real people who’d attempted suicide or contemplated self-harm.
Some of the people, like myself, acted out our stories on stage, while others who preferred not to be identified, had their stories told through professional actors. Even before reality TV became the ‘in’ thing, we were already doing reality theatre.
I remember that preparations and rehearsals for the play was very intense. And draining. Imagine baring your soul, your deepest, darkest thoughts, thoughts that even your family or friends don’t know about to a bunch of equally messed up strangers.
Before the play was crafted, we went through months of workshop and even counselling. Slowly, the 13 of us learnt to trust each other and formed a bond that to this day, remained unique. For me, the rehearsals became therapy sessions and the cast members were my Xanax, Diazepam, Lorazepam, etc.
Anyway, to cut long story short, the play took on a life of its own and we shared our stories to three nights of fullhouses at The Drama Centre. And here are the people who kept me sane so that I could fight and exorcise my demons…
After all that we’ve went through, it was rather strange that after the play ended, the lot of us who shared so much pain with each other drifted apart very quickly. Since the staging of ‘Scuse Me, I haven’t seen or heard of most of them in 18 years.
But Facebook got some of us linked up again and after a very spontaneous chat, we all met up for dinner at The Garden Slug tonight. It was just surreal seeing them again after all these years. And it’s great to see that we’ve all moved on and left the shadows of the past behind. Maybe that’s why we didn’t meet up after the play so that the past cannot catch up with us.
I’m very fortunate to have been involved in this theatrical project that is groundbreaking on so many levels. First it broke down the taboo of talking about suicide; secondly, the stories were harvested from real people who played themselves; and thirdly, it helped us break-free from our dark selves.
Looking back, as I remembered the reason I was unhappy and wanted death as a solution, I am ashamed. If only I’d known the bigger storms that were to come my way later in life, what I thought was hardship earlier is all a joke to me now.
If there’s one lesson I learnt about going through tough times, it is to keep going because when we’ve hit rock bottom, the only way is up. As long as we keep moving and don’t paralyse ourselves with self-pity and melodrama, there is hope that things will get better.
There are countless storms in life. Each storm prepares us to deal with the next one. But during a storm, remember that after it passes, the sun will shine again.
I’m thankful for these rainbows that bridged me through the rain