A story that endures

After four years, a bachelor’s dream finally comes true bittersweet. Inspired by the true life experiences of the late Dr. Aini Hamid, the brand new coin You, me and the Big C takes place by September 25 at klpac under the direction of Joe Hasham OAM.

Co-authored by Dr. Hamid and Terence Toh, You, me and the Big C is the story of Amy, a modern, successful woman who dreams of being a champion ballroom dancer. Everything changes after she discovers a lump in her breast.

Following Amy’s cancer diagnosis, the Big C begins to affect her life and the people around her. Luckily, she has her spunky teenage daughter Mia, who is there for her. Together, Amy and Mia face whatever life throws at them with humor and grace and discover that even cancer can’t destroy the special bond they have.

For a look behind the scenes, we spoke to Chrystal Foo, who plays Amy’s daughter Mia, and Omar Ali, who plays a supporting role and is the play’s production dramaturge.

Born in the rough and dusty corners of her Literary Drama Society high school, Foo’s acting career began as an extracurricular activity and became a staple in her life.

“I did theater all through high school as an extracurricular activity and really enjoyed it. I had a lot of seniors who were super passionate about the performing arts who would mentor me and inspire me to continue in acting after graduating from high school,” Foo recalled.

“So when I was 18 I auditioned and got into Theater For Young People. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to do a few auditions here and there and met a few theater friends who helped me gain experience and book jobs.

Currently, Foo is studying law at Universiti Malaya. We asked her how she balances university and her creative projects.

“Well, in all honesty, it’s something I’ve struggled with a lot. I know a lot of people juggle the two responsibilities much better than me, so it’s totally possible! But I think “it’s important to know yourself and listen to your body when you need a break and be disciplined to be on a break! Personally, I’m putting my acting on hold for a while after this show while I finish my studies.

She also wrote Sorry I get sentimental when we drivean experimental play on wheels in July.

For Omar, he was already working as a production playwright when one of the actors had to pull out of the production. “When Joe asked me if I could do the role instead, I said yes.”

Trained as a graphic designer and editor, his entry into the theater was a stroke of luck, an actor also having to withdraw from a production at the last minute. “They needed a bilingual actor to replace him. I only had experience as an ‘extra’ at the time, but times were desperate I guess.”

Omar added: “Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to be offered role after role and enjoyed the experience, so I kept doing more things.

“Besides being an actor at the time, I also did a bit of behind the scenes and design work, including set design with set designer Yusman Mokhtar, to keep things going.”

Foo loves when they do full runs because it’s fulfilling when she finally sees the story come together as a whole. “Plus, the whole cast is there, so it’s fun to chat and have fun between scenes.”

As playwright, Omar would facilitate script changes with director Joe Hasham and screenwriter Toh during internal script readings.

Omar said Toh’s unique charm and sense of humor in her scripts is one of the things that makes rehearsals fun.

Omar shared how important the story is to him: “Different people have such varied experiences with cancer or the loss of a loved one to cancer, like myself. But for me, personally, the strengths of this story are three main things: the relationship tension in such situations, the very human struggle – the ups and downs – to keep going through adversity, and the importance of taking self-care for caregivers. »

For Foo, this upcoming piece is a reminder to get regular checkups for yourself and your loved ones, as well as being sensitive to others who are going through a tough time, whether it’s health or not.

The pandemic delayed the play for about two years, and according to Omar, that’s why they had to make some changes as some of the cultural references are somewhat outdated.

“To be honest, the challenge for me personally was in pre-production, while we were reworking the script. As I mentioned, I’m a fan of Terrence’s writing and humor. So the biggest challenge was to rework the screenplay but at the same time to retain as much as possible his voice and his humor as a writer.

“While there are still a few minor changes made throughout the production process, I’m glad the final draft is Terrence’s, and I hope any changes made will serve his script well,” Omar shared. .

For a person who aspires to join the theater, Omar advises: “Do it. The more artists we have, the richer our scene will be. But you have to love doing it and commit to the choices you make. Plus, there are so many other ways to be and contribute to theater besides being in the limelight.

Meanwhile, Foo extracted something she learned in a critical analysis of Ghibli Kiki’s Delivery Service which relates to being in Malaysia’s performing arts scene.

“There will come a time when every artist will see their craft as the bane of their existence and abandon it, and that distance will teach you whether you can live without your art or not. Burnout will come, especially in an environment like the Malaysia where comebacks to the theater almost never justify the effort and time you put in. Learn to step away from your art when you need to. It might even teach you more about your craft than what you expect were waiting.

You, me and the Big C is the blood, sweat and tears of the cast and crew. If you crave a great story and want to support local arts, Foo emphasizes that any piece is a story people can enjoy and/or connect with.

Theater lovers can attend this play and celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Aini Hamid during eight performances. Get your tickets at bit.ly/youmeandbigc.