A comment by former 24-Hour/Writers’ Lab participant, Andrew Leong, on our photo post about the IKEA competition. He has kindly allowed us to re-post it as a blog entry.
Wow! Memories! Can’t believe it has been 7 years already! This was my first and only competition and the one where I popped my playwrighting cherry!
I recalled being very stressed over the fact that I’ve never written a play before and was worrying more about how to do it in the right format, rather than wondering what I would be writing about. However, the pre-competition talk was rather insightful as it gave me the assurance that what I had to say was more important than things like paragraphing, italicising and bolding.
It was actually the venue that attracted me. I always wanted to stay overnight in a store. And that was indeed the most fun part of the competition! When the store closed, we were given free rein around the 2nd floor of IKEA. The quicker ones reserved entire bedroom settings (my friend parked herself in a country bedroom set-up). Being not too fussy, I settled for just a sofa.
However, strolling around the store at night, I did what no face-conscious Singaporean adult would not normally do (unless, of course, you are starved for attention or a 5-year brat): I jumped right into bin of stuffed toys. Oh the little things that one does to amuse oneself.
Coffee and tea were also available at the IKEA cafe all through the night. Now, who else could say that they have had coffee at 1am at IKEA? Advice: never consume coffee at 1am if you can’t think of anything to write, you’d be better off grabbing forty winks.
I also remembered admitting to the volunteers (a big hello to Soo Mei! Thanks for still keeping us in the loop for all things TWorks!) that I was the “troublesome one” as every so often, I would require their time to chaperone me out of the store for a smoke break.
During the opening hours, we were also required to rotate among the different departments of the store, which was pretty cool since inadvertently, I couln’t help but be inspired by my surroundings. Equally amusing were the reactions from the shoppers. Some thought that we were hired by IKEA to replicate real-living among their displays. Point to take note for venue sponsors: hosting the competition can indeed be beneficial for your business. Think free publicity and word-of-mouth.
Everything was provided for, so no worries about that. Although the food provided by IKEA for lunch the next day was as plastically pedestrian as their cheap $4.99 stools. Oh yes, it was that bad that it still rankles in my memory bank 7 years on.
All in all, the experience was truly a fantastic one. The stimuli given really cranked up the brain juice. It adds dimension to the plays and I am sure, it gives the judges glee in seeing how many ways could the stimuli be incorporated.
When certain stimuli were being presented, you could hear some moans and groans of despair, “Oh no, how do I put this into my story?” or “My characters are now floating in space, how could they be having breakfast in IKEA?” However, being as twisted in the brain as I am, I actually relished in tackling such challenges. Simply because although I had a rough story line in mind, I never really meant to force the stimuli into my stories. Rather, the stimuli added plot twists and different textures to my play. Soooo… plan to not plan. I knew where I was going, but I took a back seat, soaked in the scenery, made interesting pit-stops and enjoyed the ride!
Oh yes, and it doesn’t just end when the competition is over! I was invited to participate in Writer’s Lab by Tan Tarn How (you’re the best!). It was one of the best experiences of my life for it was where I learnt to finetune my playwrighting skills and find my “voice”. If anyone needs a naughty (the naughtier the better!) script about working adults (family dramas are not my forte!), just email me!
Whew! What a loooong write-up! But it just goes to show how great the memories and experiences were. Thanks for everything, TWorks! Here’s wishing you success for this year’s 24hour Playwrighting Competition!