Short+Sweet 2012: Ooi Kee How
Before Ooi Kee How became penangpac’s theatre manager last year, he had directed a 10-minute play called ‘Boleh Saya Bantu’ for Short+Sweet 2011 and whose actress won the best leading role that year. Born and bred in Penang, the 33-year old revels in the island’s heritage value and blossoming arts scene. Here he tells us of his experience as a participant of past klpac’s Short+Sweet (S+S).
Why did you go from a suit and tie to theatrical pursuits?
I lived the corporate life for 11 years, including eight of which I was stationed in Xiamen, China. I made a rather gallant decision to leave a lucrative career and returned home to pursue what I truly loved. I got involved in the theatre scene when in high school. Working full-time for a theatre had never been my plan until I heard about a potential performing arts centre in Penang. That was when I went to see Dato' Faridah Merican and asked for a job. I started managing Penang Performing Arts Centre (Penangpac) since before its launch last year, I learned a lot. I may earn less but I am happier and I deal with a bunch of crazy, passionate performing arts people.
How did you come to participate in klpac’s Short+Sweet last year?
I never thought I could direct a play. Someone pulled out from the contest, so Faridah asked if I wanted to direct a play. 10-minute play? That sounded easy, at first. So I said alright. And I am glad I did, I enjoyed it very much.
What were your challenges?
I was given a script in Malay. Then I encountered a number of challenges. First, I needed two Malay speaking actors. Second, they had to commit to it because the competition was in Kuala Lumpur for a week (and I was in Penang). Third, I had to convince the actors that I could do it. I spent a bit of money for that S+S 10-minute play because I had to organise trips to KL and accommodation there for my actors. On top of that, I was running around while Penangpac was being built and its launch was about to happen two weeks after the S+S competition. So, time management was crucial.
Has the experience enhanced your love for the arts?
It was truly an eye-opener. So, I’d say, yes. I met a bunch of enthusiastic people, I witnessed how very different stories could be put together as a festival, how people worked to get things done in a quick and organised manner.
Any last words for this year’s participants of Short+Sweet?
For those who love to write, submit as many scripts. For those who love to act, sing or dance, go to as many auditions. It does not matter if you think you're not good enough. It's only for 10 minutes!
This is second of a series of three interviews with past winners of KLPac's Short+Sweet. The first Short+Sweet festival for penangpac. Dance, Sep 5-8; Theatre, Sep 12-15. See event listings.
Enter our contest and win two tickets to the Short+Sweet festival here.