Brewed Thoughts: MIND = BLOWN (Or When We Had a #RomanceClass Read-Along With Theater Pros)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

MIND = BLOWN (Or When We Had a #RomanceClass Read-Along With Theater Pros)

So, I was supposed to do a post for #StrangeLit, but I just need to get this out, now. Haha. I seriously don't know how to begin this blog post. Perhaps this image would better describe things:

GIF via Tumblr

Let me backtrack a bit to tell you about what happened last night. Last month, author Mina V. Esguerra asked the #romanceclass group for a meetup at the end of September for "something special". Sounds cryptic, but exciting! I was adamant to attend at first, because it was right smack in the middle of the work week, not to mention that Manila experienced its first carmageddon a few weeks before September 30th. But by some sheer stroke of luck, my schedule cleared and I was able to leave early and have time to chat with another fellow author.

When everyone else arrived at The Study at the Podium Mall, it felt like a high school reunion of sorts. Beso here, chika was fun reconnecting with fellow authors even if we've been tweeting/chatting with each other online on an almost daily basis. But while waiting for Mina, we were already so stoked for the surprise thing. Then someone mentioned seeing Mina's Instagram post

We were having a read-aloud session of a few #romanceclass novella excerpts by theater performers. After being ushered to a lovely conference room, we met theater artists Gio Gahol and Rachel Coates. Hearing them talk about doing rehearsals a few hours before meeting all of us was exciting. Mina also briefed us about her idea of wanting to hear a live reading session of what we wrote and how she wanted to try different things to stay creative aside from the usual writing rituals. Then shortly, the readings began.

Sweet baby Jesus.

Rachel and Gio read excerpts from Tempting Victoria, In Over Her Head, Cover (Story) Girl, and Finding X by Mina, myself (le gasp!), Chris Mariano, and Miles Tan respectively. Here's my take on each piece:

Tempting Victoria
Narrated by Gio
  • It's so different when you're reading everything in your head versus listening to narration. It felt like I was in Nathan's head, hearing his thoughts, and swooning over his feels for Victoria. I've read and reviewed this book and I liked Nathan's easy going charm. But I wasn't prepared for the Nathan audio version. I have no words.
  • Rachel's narration of Victoria was absolutely spot-on. Bossy, take-charge attitude, followed by the slow chipping of the wall around her. It's like watching an ice cube melt under Nathan's gaze.
  • I recall hearing a certain moment in their narration when I had to stop to catch my breath and fan myself. We were in an air-conditioned room and it felt like someone turned on the heat. They weren't even reading the steamy scenes, goshdarnit!

In Over Her Head
Narrated by Rachel
  • When they announced they were reading an excerpt of my book, I wanted to bolt. No joke. I've never been so scared until that moment. I'm fine with people reading my book, but with people reading my book aloud? *flees* But when Rachel started narrating, I wanted to scrape my jaw off the floor. I was feeling shy/embarrassed/scared/excited/I-wanna-pee-right-now/happy/high. She was living and breathing the moment. I wanted to weep—she was taking Erika's character to a whole different level and I was scrambling for something solid to hold on to. The tempo, intonation, breaths, pacing, and emotions were built up sooo good that I almost wondered if I really wrote those words. It was INTENSE.
  • Richard's character in that scene didn't have as much dialogue, but man, Gio slayed it. "You look great", he said. And well...*ovaries*. There was a timbre to his voice that sounded different from the first piece he read. He made that confession scene more heartfelt than I could ever write it. It was so surreal, I kinda wanted to change my name to Erika. HAHAHA.

Cover (Story) Girl (Audio clip here)
Narrated by Gio
  • This piece had a quirky dynamic. The first two readings only had two characters talking, and this one had an additional one. Again, Gio was a chameleon, his voice taking on another persona in the character of...Gio (Twilight Zone much? XD). The distinct cadence to his voice was perfect for Mr. Museum, complete with the head scratching gesture.
  • Gio and the "mamser" accent. I want to hug it. 
  • Rachel's take was fun and upbeat, perfect for Min Hee's character. I've got to give props to the woman because she was everything. She made gestures while reading as well, and it was so much fun seeing Min Hee come alive in both voice and in character. I wanted to hear more!

Finding X (Audio clip here)
Narrated by Rachel
  • This is a special book for me because nerds/beta males/geek feels. Again, both Rachel and Gio donned new personalities as they breathed life to Carlisle and Matteo. My favorite moment was Rachel/Carlisle laughing while narrating. It was part of the narrative, but the laughter didn't sound canned at all. I could see she was really having fun reading it. 
  • THAT RAIN SCENE + MATTEO CHANGING HIS SHIRT. *fans self* That wasn't supposed to sound like a steamy scene but DAYUUUUUUM!!!! *closes jaw, wipes mouth*

  • We could totally make a killing out of audio books. 'Nuff said.
  • The difference between a theater performer and someone who makes a living by doing audio book readings is world's apart. I've had my fair share of listening to audio books and while there have been attempts to include a certain vibrancy in the narrative quality, most of the time the output feels a bit flat and almost unemotional. This is one of the reason why I usually drone out while listening to audio books. But the vocal quality of Rachel and Gio was so rich, my mind could not help but stay rooted in one spot. 
  • I could hear the fun and enjoyment in Rachel and Gio's voice. These guys were professionals, but you know they just went over and beyond the expectation. Romance may not be for everyone, but man, these guys killed it!
  • I think it's safe to say that we were all bombarded by inspiration, kilig, and all-around feels. I am going through a lot of personal things right now, but this was just the boost I needed. I could never be grateful enough to have been given a chance to be part of this. More than the shenanigans, this experience saved me from another rut waiting to happen. 
  • I had a lot of self-doubt after writing IOHH. And while the plot may not be to everyone's taste, I was so surprised it could be taken to another awesome level. It was totally unexpected. 
  • While those who attended were writers, the experience spoke to our side as readers. In the end, it's always about that, right? Why write if you don't want to be read? Is there still sound if a tree falls to the ground and no one's around to hear it? Existentialist questions, true, but the experience gave me that realization, and that epiphany made me want to act on it. I think this is what Mina wanted all of us to understand at some point. 
  • Mina, if you have more experiments, sign us up! :)
I only have a few pictures of the event, but here's a couple more from people who posted last night:

Class pic!

With Gio and Rachel. HEEEEHEEEE.

Sorry, but I HAD TO.

With Edith Joaquin and Mina

A photo posted by Honey Mabalot (@hunnydew0205) on

And if you're one of my Twitter followers, I apologize for the spam on your feed! I will *try to* relent. Heehee.

Audio clips c/o Miles Tan. Thankies!

No comments:

Post a Comment