To end the much needed mid-semester break, Monash Performing Arts Club (MPAC) hosted their famous Night Of Drama on the 6th and 7th of October. Registration for early birds was RM 5 and normal tickets were RM 10. Mpac showcased 5 performances in the span of two hours with the collective theme of “the past, the present and everything in between”(dummy translation: Time). Just like last year, members were split into groups and they could let their inner creative demons let loose, the product of this were 5 performances called “Anniversary”, “third time’s a Charm”, “Dying in the Ashes”, “A master and Two Hounds(I DIRECTED THAT!), and “Love sucks”. As ominous as all of these titles sound, this year’s play was actually much brighter and showed the hopeful side of time and life.
The head of Drama’s Binadie and Riana did a stellar job guiding all the members so that they could truly flourish during the event, Riana recounted her experience as an actor the previous semester and how it helped her gain an understanding the factors that come into play during a production from various perspectives and Binadie recounted the stress that came with a demanding position like this which is understandable, like imagine handling a bunch of theatre geeks in the middle of week 8?!(Couldn’t be me). The venue was in the dance studio, and this time the stage was redesigned completely to accommodate a circle type audience, just like the olden days where theatre was in the form of a group of people huddled around a fire retelling stories of heroes and monsters. This setting was very intimate and created many tense scenes between the audience and the characters as many of the performances were interactive. Noel, the treasurer of Mpac and also the man in charge of lighting during the event mentioned that they were still very much still figuring out how to best make use of the space. That’s why they had a completely different stage design this time around. And oh boy, was it impressive, Melting clocks hung auspiciously across the room, and the lights gave off an alien but cosy look in the room.
Talking to Liam, the secretary of MPAC I got to know that booking the event proved to be rather more difficult than normal because according to him “Monash Cup had all the Monash Cup participants using the studio and it was a challenge definitely because they were little to no slots left for our rehearsals so navigating that whole scenario was really difficult and confusing”. But, NOD night was a blast, I commend MPAC’s secretary for being able to work under pressure like that.
The actual event started at 7:10pm with a short introduction from the Vice President of MPAC, Nurul guiding the audience’s first steps towards immersing themselves in the event. Talking to Nurul, I also got to learn why the club picked the theme time. “We want to make things relevant to Monash students, too little time to do things; loved ones could wait, a healthy sleeping schedule could wait, but assignments couldn’t. So we wanted to take control of this evening, take control of our time and heck, maybe get some revenge on it?”. And MPAC truly took their time to show us stellar performances throughout the evening.
The first performance was Anniversary and it detailed a mourning Widow meeting her lost love every year on their Anniversary. This was my favourite play from the event. I applaud the actors Chearin and Terrence for their believable portrayal of these two star crossed lovers. Next, we have “ third time’s a charm” , a classic case of groundhog day. The minimalistic aspect of this play truly kept the audience’s attention on the two characters who were battling with a time loop as they try to grapple the effects of suicide, loss, death and the unrelenting movement of time. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well for them. Moving on, we have “Dying in the Ashes” which had the biggest cast so far, the audience went on a journey with a Death angel himself to collect a wayward soul which was none other than *Spoiler alert* HIS SON! The gasps were audible within the audience when this plot twist came. Then came the intermission, where the audience could breath and take in the impressive ambience created by the set designers of Mpac. After the intermission, “A master and Two hounds” played which kept the audience either at the tip of their seats or in absolute horror at the bloodbath of screams, curses and overall demented energy that came off from its main character Dante as she struggles with lost memories of her lost love, Beatrice hell bent on getting revenge. This play probably had the most iconic lines I have ever heard from a character, at the cusp of Beatrice’s death she let out her last war cry “FUCK ME OVER, LIKE I FUCKED YOUR DAD!’ as she met her death.
After the performance, I was able to pull away “Beatrice” acted by Victoria and asked her how NOD was from an actor’s perspective. She said “So, we all know that Monash doesn’t really have a performing arts programme let alone a theatre one, so it’s understandable that Monash doesn’t have a dedicated theatre space; like we literally rehearse and have our shows in the DANCE studio, that’s why Mpac is needed so that writers, directors and actors can express themselves in Monash especially for actors since WE ARE is what’s being showcased for NOD right? And it’s not like Monash isn’t interested in the arts, I think that Mpac can also represent Monash in so many different ways and something Monash can take pride in.” That was a very insightful chat with anyone from MPAC, and I definitely agree that there is a lot of potential within MPAC that Monash can tap into.
Continuing onto the event, mixed reactions of giggles and gasps were heard at this play and honestly, that is understandable. After that harrowing experience, “Love sucks” uplifted the entire event with a lighthearted story of Desi love throughout the ages, ending with a pompous dance where the actors brought the audience to them as they danced off the last act of the play!
There was a large array of performances that took place throughout the two nights, but it never felt overwhelming considering the amount of twists and turns the night took. Even after the performance, the crowd buzzed with excitement and many got a chance to interact with the members of the club who worked tirelessly to make this happen. Knowing the effects Time had on Humankind the last two years, I wanted to gain more insight into this event as the performances piqued my interest so I managed to get a few words in from the President of MPAC herself, Caroline!
When asked about her feelings towards the event herself she said “To be honest, this semester’s NOD was a bittersweet experience for me. It was the last NOD I’ll get to be a part of before graduating, but I am grateful nonetheless to have had this opportunity, all the changes we faced made me even more grateful for all the people involved. This event would not have happened without the committee, sub-com and our members of course. It felt amazing to witness everyone bonding and getting along so well. When I first joined MPAC 3 years ago my knowledge in theatre was limited to certain aspects, but the people involved made me fall in love with the experience and MPAC in general. I truly believe that MPAC can help nurture their craft in a safe environment so regardless of who you are, if you find yourself wanting to explore theatre, there will always be a place for you in MPAC.”
Thank you Caroline, for pouring your heart and soul into this event and to me, this was my first time seeing theatre performances so it truly gave me a memorable experience and I can’t wait what MPAC does next year!
Written by Fasihul Alam
Photos by Sean Tan