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  • Writer's pictureLihong

Some updates, stocktake, and a small project

This year I am exhausted.

I always feel a certain fear at voicing my exhaustion. What if this infects other people I work with? What if the empaths in my life (and there are a lot) absorb my mood and I am responsible for their exhaustion too?

What if this sends a signal to my boss/director/superior that I am not capable enough?

That last thought is a red flag, my friends. As much I advocate listening to yourself, giving yourself time to rest, turning off the emergency alarm screaming "YOU MISSED A CHANCE TO DO BETTER!", I fall back into old patterns of internalising capitalism, of seeing resources like time and energy as scarce and needing to capitalise on them. Feeling guilty for resting - especially now that I do not have a salaried job. People say you quit your full time job to work all the time - I think that's true, but we need to fight that compulsion so we don't burn out.

This year I am exhausted. It's a combination of emotional and mental exhaustion, because the heart and the brain are always playing tug of war. There's been a lot of heartache this year, a lot of pain from navigating boundaries, from recognising harm caused to and by others. This might be why I turned to dance and other movement training in the later part of the year. Often it is in movement that I find some rest for my brain.

The exhaustion also seems to be fed by a sense of stagnation. Possibly a false sense of stagnation, because I'm not used to taking stock of my own progress. It's not a surprise, given that many of us have been taught to measure our progress and achievements against an arbitrary yardstick, disconnecting from our internal barometers and letting external pressure push us along.

It's important to take stock of what you've done when you feel exhausted and unsure of where you're going. So I am going to do just that.

Acting (lots of death themes, for some reason)

- Appeared as Nancy in Before Life, After Death, an independent film directed by Anshul Tiwari (IMDB debut hehe)

- First time in a devised stage production in Brides, a David Glass x Method Productions show.

- First time on stage in a play, Until Death

- Assisted in IC for Until Death

- Some featured extra/supporting roles for the screen

- Got some headshots done

Actor training

- Strasberg's Improv

- Improv intro and intermediate courses at HCAC

- Meisner basics

- Dance theatre intro

- Kalaripayattu for actor training

- Screen fighting at Sandbox Training Ground


- Pole dancing: techniques level 2 and lyrical and contemporary

- Dancing Landscapes 1.0 and 2.0 with Chloe Chotrani

- Contemporary dance foundations with T.H.E Dance company

- Blues dancing

- 20s Charleston workshop with B Swing Lindy

- Partnered Lindy hop improvers

- Tango

Other training

- Sketch writing course with Kerry McGuire

- Writing workshop with Andrew Sutherland

- Directing class

- Jazz vocals improvisation with Amanda

- Theatrical Intimacy Best Practices and Intimacy Choreography

- Creative Captioning and Audio Description workshop (Access Path Productions)

Eco-system contributions

- Held a bunch of practice sessions on intimacy choreography with community

- Co-ran consent and boundaries workshops for various communities

- Co-host of a podcast interviewing impact makers in sustainability innovation

Other explorations

- Co-ran a self defence workshop series with Michal

- Co-ran creative expression workshop with Ven

- Part-timed at a bar whose business practices are aligned with sustainability values and centring the local and regional community

Ok, so I did do quite a lot. I can't say that I have retained everything, because it's not possible. I'm less anxious about retaining than about being present and intentional these days, and I have faith that my body remembers if I was fully present. As I've transitioned from a salaried to self-employed situation, I've also noticed a tension between wanting to invest in myself and the need to spend more mindfully. I'm hoping find a balance between training and gaining experience by working on projects. I'm also reflecting on the instances where I sort of paid for my participation in a training by contributing labour, such as when I helped with the self defence course by co-creating and by creating recap videos. Such models of knowledge and skills exchange keep me going in this never-ending journey of learning and exploration, and I hope this becomes more common.

I began the year with exuberance, being at the start of many new things. It's easy to find joy in discovering, and easy to get addicted. It's much harder to stick with something when it gets tough, when you can see the rough edges and the potential pitfalls. When you're no longer buoyed along by the easy trust and joy that's in abundance at the start of things. I felt this starkly in multiple endeavours this year, and was slowly worn out as the year went by. It did not help that there was lots of uncertainty in my personal life (I say personal, but really, everything is personal when you care about what you do) exacerbated by the pandemic.

This year I am exhausted about what things look like. The show.

So for this year's climate change theatre action project, we are going to focus on the playing, the process of creating the show, and make it short and sweet - just 3 weeks, 12 contact hours, and we'll show what comes out at the end of the process. Jia min, Ven and I are working with a group of actors at the HCAC to hopefully put into practice what we have learnt here and there about theatre making, and already from the first meeting, it seems we are on to something fun and joyful. Stay tuned for the work-in-progress showcase on 5 Dec.

We've named the project Climate Crossroads, because at any instance, we are indeed at a crossroads and have the potential to alter the course of what happens next. We're also all actors (as in, we have agency) meeting at an intersection, journeying together for a while, and collaborating towards creating meaning making.

This year I am exhausted. Washed out grey like this text. And I'm going to listen to my body.

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