2018 – will be gone in few hours. I am one who don’t believe in setting new year resolutions/goals for I am a believer that every year is a new chapter and that one need goals (either short-term or long-term) as a sense of direction. Each year to begin with a new, blank slate and the past year not only serve as a memory but lessons learnt and takeaways as self-development.
Despite the unknown, fears and uncharted territories being a full-time freelance in 2018, I had been blessed with the projects/work that I did and the people that I had met. I admit that not all are rosy – there were disappointments, frustrations, feeling overwhelmed and “what did I get myself into” moments.
I still have no regrets leaving the corporate world after more than 15 years. The journey of being a freelance has been both fulfilling and challenging. It gave me a different appreciation and perspective. No job is superior than another. No one is superior than another. Regardless of the nature of a job or how much you are being paid, teamwork, responsibility, accountability and most importantly mutual respect need to be understood and internalised. Title is not an entitlement, bait in power play or abused authority. That last statement applies to everyone everywhere – either as a freelance or working in the corporate world.
These are my highlights and takeaways for 2018 projects:
Glam Theatre Musical – Where My Heart and Guts Has Never Been Tested So Much
1 – 4 Feb, Gateway Theatre Blackbox
Murphy came and never left since the day we started rehearsals in 2017, bumped-in till the day we strike out. Without fail, every day (and at each show) there was an incident – from technical to performers and crew welfare.
Despite the challenges throughout the whole process (on the toes was an understatement for this one), blessed to be part of this and have a team that supports each other. This production tested my knowledge, patience and capability not only as a Stage Manager but also as a Production Manager (the unofficial title).
True Colours Festival – Where I Stood in Awe
19 Feb – 29 Mar
One of my most fulfilling and humbling project, thus far. The three-day True Colours Festival concert at Singapore Indoor Stadium and outdoor Festival Village from 23 – 25 Mar is truly inspiring. These are the days where I stood in awe, lost for words on the feast of talents right before my teary eyes. These talented artistes with disabilities proved that nothing is impossible.
No words could describe the learning process/journey working with new and familiar faces. Unfortunately, this was the project that I had one of my disappointments (managing childish dramas and power play was mentally exhausting) while working with familiar faces and also proved the importance of team work and mutual respect. This was also the project that I did a lot of reflections and keep asking myself if I could handle some situations differently.
Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) – Where I Worked with Legends
29 Apr – 10 May
Artist Liaison Officer (ALO) – Toshi Reagon
For the past 12 years as an ALO, this is the longest stint with a single artiste. Learnt so much (plus interesting conversations) not only from Toshi but also with Michelle Dorrance as well as from the cast, musicians and crew from both Parable of the Sower and The Blues Project. Both shows were awesome and all the casts are so cool and talented.
These two legends are humble and passionate in their works which is rather lacking in some of those who had just started out.
Project Coordinator – Where I Did Everything And Anything
15 Jun – 3 Dec
This was with a creative agency and easily explained in point form (non-exhaustive):
1) Installation/set-up of booth, windows display at wee hours
2) Client brand activation roadshow
3) Provide secretarial service for client at trade event
4) Numerous online search for various items – from blue coloured candies/wrappers, to nuts, to balloons, to sequins, baubles, etc
5) Numerous trips to Arab Street, Chinatown, DIY shops, SKP, Art Friend etc
6) Submission of various and numerous forms for permit to work (PTW) at various shopping malls
7) People management
8) Time management
This 7 months contract work was really an eye opener. It gave me access to various types of work that happens in the wee hours that we don’t get to see. It gave me a different appreciation and a lot of hand-on experience to various types of set-ups and window display work (both in the planning and installation). I had done corporate events during my full-time stints but I was on the client side. Being on vendor side, well, gave me a balanced perspective. Clients need to understand that vendors do have a life and regardless how much the contract is worth, vendors should not be mistreated or available 24/7. And vendors, need to learn to say ‘no’ and/or manage expectations.
One of the things I enjoyed doing is the research and recce – both online and in person. Brought me to places that I never knew and been before. There are things and places that you don’t know that you don’t know.
The challenges that I continue to grapple with is the time and people management. I always believe in respecting one’s time (either own or others). It takes a lot to manage external client but it takes a lot more to manage internal client. No one should be taken for granted. Age or lack of experience is not an excuse to shrug off accountability. Failing to plan is planning to fail – a principle that I hold on very strongly thanks to my project management background.
The Tell-A-Tell of Faith in Fatih – Where I Push Myself
15 Dec, Gateway Theatre Auditorium
Performer – Percussion
As per my previous post – this was a four months crash course. With limited music/percussion background, learning 13 songs and playing six different traditional drums/instruments was totally unexpected and a huge achievement.
I did it not because of personal glory but it was a self-test and self-development. This is “what did I get myself into” moment. And I was invited back to be part of the musical on end June. Excited and nervous!
Rather interesting that I started the year at Gateway Theatre Blackbox and ended the year at Gateway Theatre Auditorium. Best part is that it was the same crew and they remembered me (don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing).
2018 has been a year of self-discovery, self-reflection and pushing of boundaries (some I shared above, if I were to share all, it will be a super long post). 2019 is going to be an exciting year and another year of a lot of unknowns. Apart from a client activation work in early Jan, Chingay 2019 in Feb, Mascot Minder till end April and Faith in Fatih Musical end June, my calendar is still pretty open (I know being thick-skinned by self-promoting). I am actively looking for projects as a freelance as well as on contract basis. Been asked recently if I would consider going back to the corporate world/work full time. If the conditions are right, I might consider.
Have a blessed and fruitful 2019 wherever you are! I am going to start my 2019 with an open mind and a new slate for I am still learning. What about you?