On Home Ground

Published on 28 January 2018

Credit: Ivan Joshua Loh

For his self-penned, self-performed show, actor Dwayne Lau invites audiences into his home… well, sort of.

By Jo Tan

Dwayne Lau describes the first version of his self-penned sketch show, A Date With Dwayne, (performed in 2015), as extremely kampong. “My junior college drama teacher produced it, the set designers were my best friends, my sister curated the music, and my friend Josh provided free labour and performed. My friends and colleagues Judee Tan and Siti Khalijah, whom I had approached for advice, also ended up directing and acting respectively,” recalls the actor/writer/educator. “It all happened during a dry period for me in terms of acting jobs, when I was questioning my ability. But my friends and family told me, ‘Create your own stuff, get out there and perform it. We’ll help you.’ ”

The show sold out. Since then, Lau’s proven his mettle many times over, scoring solid reviews with performances in major stage productions, including the award-sweeping Hotel by W!ld Rice. He’s also penned comedy scripts for Dee Kosh as part of Dream Academy’s Happy Ever Laughter. Now, he’s presenting the new and improved A Date With Dwayne — Let’s Go Steady! This iteration is much less ‘kampong’, with actress Pam Oei directing, composer Elaine Chan as musical director, and a professional cast including Siti, Ethel Yap, Ryan Ang, plus Lau himself. “I really wanted my family and besties to sit back and relax this time,” he says.

Lau would like to maintain the family atmosphere: the set is a layout of his actual home, and audience members will be welcomed into different areas to witness different vignettes. “They’re not necessarily all scenes which would take place in my flat, but very much things I have experienced or witnessed. And they’re all about love: being dumped, unrequited passion, even a conversation I witnessed at Fitness First between these dolled-to-the-nines aunties who were gushing over a hot instructor who was trying to kill them with his exercises. Crushes are something you never grow out of.”

The show is also personal because it fulfils certain dreams for Lau. “Being Chindian [half Chinese, half Indian], I’ve been told I’m not Chinese enough or dark-skinned enough for certain roles. But in this vignette-style performance, the cast gets to play many different races and ages.”

The show also has a segment dedicated to Lau’s late mother, who passed away last year. “I’m glad we always spent time together as a family. Recently, I attended a funeral of a woman whose sons never reconciled with her. After the eulogies of other guests praising her, the three sons were flabbergasted that they never knew their mother, but it was too late. That’s the message I want to share for this show… cherish the loves you have now.”

A Date With Dwayne — Let’s Go Steady! is on 23 & 24 February at ITE College Central Black Box.

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