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Initially, I didn’t want to write this post. Simply because I’ve been so packed out with stuff that I didn’t think I will be able to squeeze in time for this after trying to catch up on work that I couldn’t do during the Christmas rehearsals [and after I knocked out for Boxing Day (get it?)], but after a while, I decided… what the heck. I’ve already made it something like a ritual to write some posts for the shows I’m involved in so why break that tradition?

Here goes!

Auditioning for the roles

Firstly, serving for the Christmas drama is something I want to do on a yearly basis. I’m a little greedy in the sense that I just want to be part of it somehow for both Christmas and Easter. I know, might be a little taxing on my schedule but I really, really want to do it as long as I can. The first character I auditioned for was the “Candyman”, played fantastically by Bernard.

I wanted to do the role because of the weirdness of the character. I’ve shared this before with some others – playing weird characters is actually easier, in my opinion, because acting as a normal person and yet, still be watchable is a tough thing to do.

Some other talents we’ve got in the Drama Ministry are really like that – very watchable even though they are not doing a major role, but they just make their characters come alive. I really hope we will get to see more of them acting!

For me, I take a long time to “warm up” to the character to become watchable, so I’m always thankful to the directors to let me have a part of act in the drama productions (which I am always proud of and dare say, is of world class standard). Case in point, Chloe did a fantastic job at it.

She’s been rehearsing for this character and even up to show time, she’s still perfecting her character. She’s really good and memorised all her lines. In fact, I think she’s definitely taken the achievement for the longest monologue ever done by any character in our drama productions.

Fact: no teleprompters were used – she memorised it all word for word.

Something… Dark?

Here’s something additional that’s NOT from the script, nor from the directors or scriptwriters. Now, fair warning… it’s a little dark. It’s just something I came up with on my part, this wasn’t approved by the scriptwriter or anything but I came up with it while just sitting there and watching the show.

It might change the perspective of the drama a little after you’ve watched it. Some might not see it as dark – but everyone has different tastes. If you just want to enjoy the story as it is, then just skip the next part. Else, if you don’t mind a bit of “fun” or curiosity is getting the better of you, then read on.

Finding Home (From The Dark)

Out of the entire “Finding Home” story, the most fantastical part is Peppermint Park. A land of bright colours, candy trees and music. This entire part of the story is in stark contrast to the rest of the story, set in an old English country. For most parts, the story is believable, but what if… there’s a deeper, darker, more sinister story to this place?

After Claire discovers a clue about her home, she convinces her friend Olivia to run away together from the orphanage. Without any money, Claire decides to steal from Mother Superior – probably knowing the orphanage needs the money but she proceeds anyway after feeling she has been betrayed and lied to.

When she makes her way to the train station, she first meets the thieving Tom. Being gullible, she buys into his story and buys tickets from him not knowing they were fake. When they get forced off the train, the scene goes into a tunnel… it goes into a dark, dark world.

In Peppermint Park, they meet the Seow Ting Tong brothers, the Candyman and Tom.

But wait, why was Tom there? They were on a train and the likelihood that Tom was on the same train was slim to none. Especially since at one point, the Candyman reveals that Tom had stolen from them. So Tom had no reason to want to stop over at Peppermint Park.

And if we were to consider the older times… it would have taken a fair bit of time for Tom to be caught and brought over to the Park. So, it could be possible that both Claire and Olivia had actually been dropped off far from the Park and it when they finally found their way to the Park by foot, they were extremely exhausted and fatigued.

It’s over at the Park that they eat parts of candy trees – but can this really happen? Maybe they were so tired that they started hallucinating? But what could cause hallucinations?

See… from the beginning of the story to the end, we’ve come to believe that Claire is an excellent storyteller. She tells stories to help soothe pain and loneliness.

What if the entire thing over at Peppermint Park was a fabricated story by Claire to hide what really happened?

What if Peppermint Park was actually somewhere else totally? When they met the Seow brothers and the Candyman, what if… instead of clowns and brightly coloured people, they were actually part of a gang in this place they were at? They owned the land and literally had everything under their command. Candyman himself says that he had everything.

And when the girls “ate” the property there, what if they actually took something from the place and they were falsely manipulated into believing that they’ve committed some serious crime? Seeing how gullible they were (Claire says that they obviously know where they were going when they were following strangers who were hitting on them), it’s plausible that the girls were forced into a situation where they had no choice but to follow the Seow brothers into the Candyman’s home.

In there, the girls meet the Candyman and he talks about eating them quite openly. About his emptiness and cravings. What could this really be…?

Then when Candyman says he was moving onto bigger things like Lollipop boy, we see Tom wearing a Lollipop and forced to do things he didn’t want. Perhaps, forced to do certain forced labour and was fed with some drugs?

Tom and the girls were likely forced into desperate situations. Claire hated Tom, blaming him for tricking them in the first place and causing them to be locked up. They were even contemplating murdering someone else but the fear of the Candyman was real, so they didn’t dare to assassinate him.

And at one point, Olivia reminisces about the past – what could have happened that she would reminisce about simple storytelling moments to ease pain and loneliness?

Later, the Candyman asks “What clever ploy have you devised to trick me, girl?” meaning to say that the sharp Candyman knows that they were trying to get out of the place. The plan falls through and only Tom gets out. When the Christmas story is shared with the Candyman, his change wasn’t permanent. Maybe this was a suggestion that some people just won’t be able to change? That they reject the gift of love, that is His birth and death?

After some time, when they finally escaped the place… the mere mention of Candyman scares Olivia. So what could really have happened? They might have been abused sexually, they might have drugs forced on them, they might have gone through some really dark times… but we won’t know the real story because it’s now all covered by a story that all three of them have come to agreement to tell. To probably explain why they were missing for so long (Mother Superior notices Olivia has lost weight even though they were in a place of candy and food) and to possibly hide the horrible things they suffered in “Peppermint Park”, which might even be a totally made up place.

So… if you rewatch the entire story, it might give you an alternative look into why they say certain things in the script.

A little dark, yes. But you clicked it 🙂

Acting As The “Stepfather”

Truth be told, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to play the role of the Candyman. But that’s how life is like, no? You don’t always get what you want – but we can trust that God’s watching over everything, making sure it all works according to His divine plans.

At first, I was thinking… this should be a rather easy role to do. But I needed to create a backstory for him.

What’s a stepfather? By definition, a stepfather or stepdad is the husband of one’s biological mother, and not one’s biological father.

When Claire turns up at the house and I meet her, I suddenly recall who she was when she said that the scarf which belonged to Marie Anderson was with her when she was a baby left at an orphanage.

Marie and I were meant to be married together, an arranged marriage of political families. Since the Anderson family owns practically half the city of Wintervale. But we discovered that the child wasn’t mine so in order to protect the name of the family, I had the child sent away.

Without me knowing, Marie snuck in a scarf sewn by herself together with the baby. Perhaps, hoping that the child one day would come back and find her. As for me, when I recognised that this was an old scarf of Marie’s… the earlier part where I dismissed her when she said she was from Hope Springs Orphanage clicked in my mind.

I had not expected her to turn up because I had deliberately sent her to a far location.

While I can’t actually speak for Mother Superior’s background story, she probably recognised the crest and knew how powerful the Anderson family were. So she also implicitly knew that Claire was an unwanted child – which is why she didn’t tell her after so many years. Knowing that if she came to find us, she would most likely be rejected.

The reason why I so strongly rejected Claire was because it took many years for our marriage to bear fruit. After the whole scandal that we’ve carefully hidden away from the world, it took a long time for us to move on.

And when we have two children who are much younger than Claire, you can tell how many years it has been before we could actually move on. So the appearance of Claire would only bring back all the old hurts that we’ve finally got over.

Which is why I was quick to want to send her off and hide the scarf. I may be very mean and rather manipulative to her, but I am also doing it to protect her and my family. After all, why would I care about a child that would naturally bring shame and possibly split up the family?

I also give her a small stack of money, which were each £50 and if we were living in the older times, this will definitely be enough for her to live on without disturbing us for a long while. One of the things that I wanted to do but didn’t do, was to take out the entire stack of money… take out only one piece and hand it to her with two fingers in a condescending manner.

However, I decided not to do this because it would bring more attention to my character and would be kind of fighting for attention without really helping the story move forward, so I didn’t bring this up to the directors until the show was done.

One of the things you don’t see in the recording was that as I’m walking into the house, Marie asks me to look in the kitchen. And as I walk pass them, one of my boys actually asks for the scarf in my hands. He wasn’t acting this part, he asks for it because he wants to hold it.

In fact, he asks for it every show without fail. So instead of giving it to him, I actually just give him a pat on his head as I walk by… straight into the kitchen to destroy the scarf so there will be no way this unwanted child will be able to try to reconcile with the mother.

Even though my part of the show was really short, this backstory really helped to gel things for me and I’m always appreciative that the directors could let me have my way in order to make this scene work. As such, I would always encourage fellow actors that even though your part is small, creating the character is still an important part and we must be faithful with it.

In Closing

This was another fun production, with lots of music and oh yes, the wonderful spoofs the old dramas used to feature every year in the older drama productions. Christmas has always been a lighter, more fun story to play since the “heavy” one is during Easter but as usual, I aim to make it a point to serve for both of these as much as I can.

Even if the role is small – this isn’t about wanting to be seen on stage and be famous, frankly, I don’t need it. I’m just very happy to be able to serve in this wonderful ministry where I can get to see and experience different people from all walks of life coming together for a common cause. It’s an amazing experience that I want to relive over and over again.

Truly, this is a place where I can call my home 🙂

Most of these people are all volunteers (myself, included). We’re not doing this for money nor is it for fame, we’re doing it remembering that the story is meant to open up the hearts of the people so when the Word is shared, it will go into the hearts of people and help them to make the most important decision of their life.

I pray the story has been an impactful one for you and you’ve enjoyed it. It has taken months to prepare for this and now that it’s over… it’s time to prepare for the next show.

Easter 2017!