5 things you don’t know about… Centrestage
Centrestage is yet another new site devoted to the local arts scene. And I mean devoted in the adoring sense. Theatre articles are delightfully peppered with titles or lines of songs from musicals, Easter eggs for the true devotees. The music segment sees coverage of up-and-coming bands and artistes (with occasional references to The Beatles, among other golden oldies), while the fine arts segment does features on people ranging from voice actors and soundtrack composers, to film directors and body painters (with an occasional pun in the titles).
1. Malaysia first
“There is not enough exposure on local talent,” says co-founder and managing editor Ian Nathaniel. He had me at Wilkommen and with these words cements his role as soul mate. As anyone who has been trapped in a lift with me – as well countless Uber drivers – knows, this is what fuels people like us. Ian continues: “We want to help grow the community,” and I have to look down to keep myself from batting my eyelids at him. He’s so my guy.
“Our focus is on productions or things happening in Malaysia”
“Currently we only feature local stuff. We want to expand but our focus is on Malaysian productions or things happening in Malaysia.” And so local talent has another champion. Bienvenue, Centrestage!
2. Built on passion and friendship
The Centrestage team of writers is currently made up of Ian and Anusha Abishegam.
“We’re running on passion,” says Ian, using the well-worn euphemism for “we don’t get paid”. Given the number of stories, interviews and reviews that have been generated in the past six months, it’s hard to believe everyone has a day job. Or maybe not so hard – we’ve all been there, some of us are there still, working one job to pay the bills and another to satisfy that hunger for performing, creating, or writing.
Anusha, the English teacher, studied Creative Media and specialized in audio engineering. “I’ve known her since I was 13… she was my first friend in high school.” Anusha writes about “fine arts, film and everything else”, while the two of them share the music segment between them.
As for Ian; “a little bit of this, a little bit of that.” His father is a musician and Ian a composer and musician. He wrote half of the music for Mahsuri (And Other Peculiar Tales), a play so successful it staged three times, toured to Johor and is returning to Johor in the coming month. Ian is also a graphic designer and animator.
3. Tough love reviews
“We believe in honesty,” says Ian, adding that he knows that sounds trite. Yet, I understand why honesty is so vital for a site like Centrestage. “The Malaysian arts scene is so strong; there is so much more we can do.” And to do it, we need to know where and how we can improve.
Ian asks for the same honesty in return. As producer, com
“The Malaysian arts scene is so strong, there is so much more we can do.”
poser and musical director for Mahsuri, “I begged people, please critique the show.”
Is it still true that you have to choose between being honest and being liked? Not always, responds Ian, giving one hope for the future of the industry. He tells me most performers and directors appreciate his feedback, reacting positively to ‘negative’ reviews. “They tell me, ‘I didn’t know that; thanks for letting me know’.”
4. When reviewers hand you lemons…
Your production will not earn a 4-star review from Centrestage. However, if you impress the reviewer, you may earn yourself a bracing 4.25 limes. Why limes? So glad you asked.
“It’s an inside joke,” says Ian. “We were talking one day, having one of our initial meetings and someone mentioned lime, and then Anusha said the word ‘sublime’ as a joke- referencing sub-articles. So, confused, I asked ‘what is that, like half a lime?’ and it became a thing.”
How zesty is your show? Ask Centrestage.
A thing indeed – limes are prominent on the Centrestage site, from the zesty green logo headlines and design accents to the lime grading system for reviews to sanity-keeping wordplay.
“We have features we call ‘Limes’, then the sub-features are ‘Sub-limes’.” They also have Lime Bytes and, of course, ‘Limelight’.
5. Turning the spotlight around
On Centrestage, ‘Limelight’ seeks out production/event people in the shadows, those as essential to a production as actors and directors, but who rarely get recognition. “There are no awards for stage management,” says Ian. With ‘Limelight’, the Centrestage team
brings these people – technicians, sound engineers, stage managers, special effects editors, etc. – forward to take a well-deserved bow. As a theatre person (actor, musician and composer) himself, Ian especially enjoys these interviews. “I get to learn about things on a different level,” he says.
“With Limelight the Centrestage team brings technicians, sound engineers, stage managers, special effects editors, etc. forward to take a well-deserved bow.”
So if you haven’t already, visit www.centrestage.my for performing arts views, news and reviews.