I’ve been his closet fan for years now, starting with his first play – Stories for Amah – back in 2002. Stories for Amah was both poignant and funny and somehow when Mark was introduced before the play began, he seemed so young!
Over the next couple of years, I forgot much about it until one day I saw this write-up in The Star about my good friend, Jana who was acting in a play with Mark. They both co-wrote the play which they did in their spare time hamming around during their lecturing days in a local college here in Penang.
Somehow, they managed to put up the two-person skit at their college during a dinner/showcase for teaching staff that they decided to go one step further – produce a REAL play. That was how Cheet Chat the play came about. Incidentally Cheet Chat made its rounds in The Actors Studio Greenhall Penang and all the way down to The Actors Studio Bangsar.
I met Mark during one of those ‘after show’ moments – Jana gushed about his talent and knack for writing up a play in supersonic speed! By the way, Jana is also quite a whiz at play-writing and directing. She’s now continuing her studies in Universiti Malaya, doing her Masters in Performing Arts. Though I miss her desperately (and miss our raucous makan sessions at Sri Ananda Bhawans) I know she’s living the life she always wanted – to act, to entertain, to provoke!
In the end, we all became good friends, and he has come over to our apartment for some Ti Kuan Yin tea and of course, a good reading of the tarot! For fun of course. (People get upset and all tensed when you mention tarot… why is it anyway? Tarot’s a fun way to break the ice in any group gathering and allows you to talk more about yourself.)
We’ve also hung around Sri Ananda Bhawans too many a time for lunch, tea, dinner and supper so much so we joke to the maitre’ d (or head of the serve staff, in regular lingo) should give us all some discount or membership card.
Sri Ananda Bhawans is this totally Indian banana leaf rice restaurant in Little India, Penang. I’ve happily promoted this place to friends and family and wrote about it in a piece I did for the print edition of The Western Australian News, Perth. Man, DO I love this noisy restaurant!
Anyway, Mark’s family still lives in Penang. For the love of acting and writing, he has moved to KL. Yes, that baby-faced boy does work too (even playwrights need to eat and live) and he is quite the teacher at a private education institution in KL. I last saw him when he trooped home to the island for the Raya holidays.
And I will be seeing that madhatter again this Friday. He’ll be here at The Actors Studio Greenhall Penang to present his new play, Ah Steve, for the weekend.
So yes, I will be there, all rah-rah (minus the pom-poms) to revel in Mark’s storytelling again. His stories are deliciously wicked, makes humorous jabs at prudes and religion and allows us to relax and laugh at our sheer Malaysianness! He is authentically Malaysian and you’ll love his Hokkien – he uses this loud language in most of his plays though English or Manglish is his favourite medium of communication.
So do book your tickets quick and go catch Ah Steve in action!
Note: The show will be staged at The Actors Studio in Greenhall, Penang from March 9 till 11 at 3pm and 8.30pm. For details, log on to www.theactorsstudio.com.my or call 04 263 5400.
Learn more about Ah Steve in The Star…