Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blog: Theatre Night Fever, December 1, 2011

December 1, 2011
Swimming to The Perfect Moment
by Howard Dai

It was during the collaboration theatre summer camp by The Cultch, one instructor Vanessa told me about this master storyteller Spalding Gray and his works. And about a month ago, when I was trying to write a monologue for school drama class, I found Spalding Gray on Google again. Then finally, I got this book – Swimming to Cambodia - from the library.

Swimming to Cambodia is the ultimate monologue performed and written by Spalding Gray – in that specific order. It’s Spalding sharing his experience when filming his first major film “The Killing Fields” in Cambodia, meanwhile searching for a “perfect moment”.

The book was first published in 1985 by Theatre Communication Group. The monologue was produced in two parts, part one and part two, with a continuous storyline. It was like reading a novel, and you can find the presence of theatre in between every word. Then I found the film version of the piece on YouTube, the film was released in 1987, three-and-a-half years after the premiere of the stage version in Performing Garage, New York. The producers put the juiciest part of the monologue into an 85-minute film. In the film Spalding Gray sits behind a desk, with a notebook, a glass of water, two maps, a projection of views of Cambodian beaches on the back wall, and a microphone in front of him on the table. The use of specialized lighting and sound effects was a huge add-on. So simple, yet it’s so breathtakingly amazing. Spalding Gray's master skills of storytelling tells it all in this film. It catches you deeply every single second. We don’t need any Hollywood style explosions or 3D effects. It has became one of my favorite films of all time, and certainly the best in its genre.

*The film/book contains mature subject matter and sexual content. Recommended for the age of 14 and up. Or till you’re mature enough to handle it.*

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