My Life at Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong 2011-2013

Looking For Sofas

The last IP of this term was the one by Mia and Heather. It lasted only half an hour, but those thirty minutes were filled with laughter, laughter and more laughter. “Everyone has a different taste, but we are all looking for sofas” was a comical play about three strangers who meet in Todd’s Sofa Emporium by coincidence. The play was performed in LPC’s common room – the perfect setting, as the room is already filled with sofas and hence creates the atmosphere of a sofa shop very easily. 481719_10200146069234689_1729880816_n

Mia and Heather had chosen their actors before actually writing their script, so the roles of the play were played very convincingly. Una played a neutral, bored and passive woman full of anger and sarcasm. Cengiz played a meditating freak who pulls the other two actors into a sort of “sofa and life therapy”. And Farai is a busy, stressed-out woman drowning in her desire for perfection. After observing each other skeptically for a while, the three start a conversation, initiated by Farai, who asks Una for her opinion of a certain sofa. She asks, if Una can imagine her watching TV on the sofa, eating dinner on the sofa, looking good on the sofa – or “gettin’ a little kinky” on the sofa. Una doesn’t know what to say.

“Nice is the word all humans use when what they truly want to say is something negative. It is a neutral adjective that can mean nothing but bad things masked in politeness.”

There is an awkward silence as nobody knows what else to add. Eventually, Cengiz circuitously tries to re-initiate the conversation by telling a random story about him “falling”, then strays off to the topic of meditation, and explains to Una and Farai how he makes himself happy. “I tell myself I am happy. I even shout it out sometimes. I can tell myself that I am happy up to 1000 times a day.  It all adds to the sweet pursuit.” The two women question his strategy. Angered, Cengiz sits on the sofa, repeating the word Happy several times: “Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy.” Eventually, a bright smile appears on his face. DSC00263

Farai, annoyed by the fact that the conversation has digressed from the original topic and has still not answered her question, if this would be the right sofa for her, goes on telling Cengiz and Una about her long-lasting dream of the perfect sofa. Her dream seams all in all so familiar to anyone’s life: there is a fixed idea in everyone’s head, the idea of the perfect shape, the perfect size, the perfect color and perfect matter – and the real object, matching this idea is nowhere to be found. It is only one of many examples of human ‘problems’ that Mia and Heather have used in their play; ironically distorted, comically individualized and yet representing the irrelevant problems of humanity as whole.

“… Wishing is elemental.  Like breathing almost.  You wish for someone to love you. You wish for your dreams to come true. You wish for silly things, stupid things – like sofas.   And there’s what you wish for that’s totally something else…less tangible things that you think just by wishing can be possible.  But wishing is not going to get you anywhere.  The perfect couch is not going to appear in the first furniture store you walk into.   If that couch your dreaming about is really out there and is meant to become “the” sofa to complete your living room puzzle, then you’re going to have to keep searching.  You can’t just give up and cry after one go!”

After all this dispute, Cengiz starts what he calls a “therapeutic appreciation of sofas”. He lets both Una and Farai choose the most comfortable sofas in the Emporium and starts to talk to them – not about sofas, not about perfection, but about all those other things in life that distress them. He starts with Farai. Talking about the perfect sofa earlier, she now wanders off to her long dream of the perfect pair of black shoes – only another example in a long row revealing the irrelevant things that distress us human beings and distract us from our happiness. Una interrupts Farai’s story of shoes, and Cengiz switches his attention towards her. Una tells him about her dream of last night, in which she was planning her future house – including the sofa! – and her “mother’s butt” was in her way all the time. Excited by the opportunity do dissect a dream, Cengiz starts a “butt therapy” with Una, asking her to imagine her mother’s butt, talk to it, yell at it, be honest with it – and then respond as the butt itself. This scene was absolutely hilarious, and the audience – already sitting on the ground – was now lying all over each other, unable to stop laughing. When Cengiz afterwards asks Una, how she feels after this therapy, her answer is clear: “I feel like the biggest asshole in the Universe. No pun intended. I’m never telling you another dream again.”

The play ends with the store microphone announcing the end of the opening hours of Todd’s Sofa Emporium. The three realize that they have still not found a sofa – even though by now it is still not clear, if that is what Una and Cengiz were actually looking for – and agree to come back tomorrow. One after one, they leave. DSC00292

Heather and Mia’s IP was absolutely hilarious. I loved it! The play was a perfect stress reliever, and considering that this and last week were probably the most stressful ones of this term, this half an hour was definitely worth spending. 30 minutes of slapstick comedy, 30 minutes in which I could not stop laughing, 30 minutes of high-quality acting and creativity. All three actors had performed in previous IPs and simply defended their talent in this play. Bravo and thank you!

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