CRYSTAL, by playwright Dino Mahoney and composer Jonathan Douglas. The play is about a drag queen named Crystal who is in love with a straight man who is only half in love with her. Together, they are in love with drugs from basically every letter of the alphabet. We got a chance to ask Rye Bautista aka La Chiquita some questions about the upcoming play.
Dim Sum: OK. For the people who are the regular patrons of FLM (ex-Volume Beats) or Cafe Queen, they know who you are. Can you tell people who do not know who you are more about you?
La Chiquita: I am La Chiquitta. I like to think of myself as a showgirl, camwhore, makeup enthusiast, thespian, ex-radio host, partyphile, recording artist, self-indulgent Instagrammer, reluctant twitter-er, and overall, approachable drag queen who loves chocolates and chicken nuggets.
Dim Sum: Your appeared as Solange in Jean Genet’s THE MAIDS in 201x and you had very good feedback. This is your first solo play. What are the challenges of being in a one-man show?
La Chiquita: First of all, there are more lines to memorise, which are easier to get mixed up when you have no one to take cues from. The stamina required is also bigger to keep the energy consistent from beginning to end. And of course, the pressure of not having anybody else share the opinion of the audience. If they think the show is bad because it was badly performed, there’s nobody else to catch the bad reviews but, in this case, me.
Oh, and the pressure of knowing that the production schedule mainly depends on you, because if you can’t be physically there, even if everybody else is there, there’s nothing to rehearse.
I guess it’s fair to say that doing a one-man show puts one’s credibility on the line more. Scary!
Dim Sum: Thank you for bringing up the issue of crystal meth. The Hong Kong community or our friends always avoid talking about this topic. Why did you decide to take on the role of Crystal who is addicted to crystal meth?
It wasn’t Crystal’s meth habits that made me say “ok, I wanna play the part.” While the meth is very much present in her story, the play isn’t about drugs. It’s about Crystal. And Crystal is not just a junkie. Crystal is a drag-performing gay man, a lovefool, a survivor, who also happens to have an addiction to meth. How colourful is that character? How exciting those layers make her!
Dim Sum: Why do you think meth is so popular in gay community?
La Chiquita: Because it makes sex amazing.
Even clinical studies say that, right? And admit it or not, we are a horny bunch. Of course, that doesn’t make drug abuse ok. That’s not an excuse, and me saying this doesn’t make it right. But matter-of-factly, the answer to the question is sex.
Dim Sum: You are not lip synching in CRYSTAL. What are should we expect to see?
La Chiquita: Haha! Well… Expect to hear me sing live. Whether or not you should expect to hear me sing amazingly is a whole different story altogether. (laughs)
Dim Sum: How did playwright Dino Mahoney develop the CRYSTAL character? Can you tell us more about Dino too?
La Chiquita: Dino is a published playwright, poet and a personal friend. When it all started, the goal was only to write a one-man show for Chiquitta. I could be wrong, but I believe it was with a poem that I wrote, and some poems from him and other people, and the love stories of a few people we know interviewed that Crystal’s love story was born. Crystal’s drag queen-ness was heavily based on me though. I think. Well, at least I’d like to think so. The outfits she would wear, her diction, her passionate heart…
Dim Sum: Let’s talk about the music. Is every song written by composer, Jonathan Douglas? Can you tell us more about him too?
La Chiquita: Yes, Jonathan Douglas composed and arranged the music for the whole show, not just for the songs that I’m singing. So that means scoring the play, which in my opinion, was challenging because of the many mood changes throughout. Jonathan is an accomplished musician and radio producer. And the weeks we were focused only vocal rehearsals, he was also unfortunate enough to have to listen to my sad stories whenever I could relate to the songs. (laughs)
23 – 27 November 2016
Black Box Theatre – LG.54, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong
Word by Joe Lam