Stepping into Penang’s old mansions from colonial days is like stepping back in time. These beautiful mansions are like time capsules as they often contain artifacts and items we don’t see any more such as gramophones and vintage radios. There are probably some posh tableware and chandeliers in these houses, among other thing. In Part 2 of the Soonstead Mansion/2 Houses feature, The Blue Flamingo tells us more about her experience there during her visit to catch the last performance of 2 Houses.
As part of the invitation to the play 2 Houses, I was also allowed to go backstage to interview and observe the MAC Artistic Team in action. Now, technically since the play, 2 Houses did not take place on a stage, the word backstage might be a bit of a misnomer here!
For the interview, I was led by Ms. Sonia Chong, MAC Senior PR & Artist Relations Manager into the Soonstead Mansion via a long walkway which included a walk through the long dining hall of the mansion. The grand dining hall of the mansion was one of the locations which the producers used to stage the play. The interior of the mansion was very immaculate and grand, and also very well maintained in spite of the age of the building. I was then led up a very narrow wooden staircase. I must say that this must be the most narrow wooden staircase on the whole Island of Penang which I have ever climbed! The staircase was only wide enough for one, well, or perhaps maybe one and a half persons only, maybe, if one is thin enough! The staircase took me to a veranda which overlooked the back gardens of the mansion towards the sea. As I passed through the veranda, I imagined that the mansion’s occupants could have been sitting on the veranda all those years ago, sipping tea and enjoying the beautiful sunset and taking in the scenery and all that greenery as well as the sea on the distant horizon.
To my surprise, the interior of the mansion, including the ground floor was air-conditioned. The owners of the mansion were very wise to do that. Even the upstairs rooms had air conditioning. However, they were also clever enough to ensure that there were no unsightly air conditioning vents and protruding piping visible. The owners very wisely had the air conditioning vents installed in very discreet locations.
Upstairs it was all wooden flooring but the wooden floor felt very solid, even after all these years. In the hallway leading to the room, I sighted a grand antique gramophone placed on a table at the corner of the upstairs hallway. The gramophone looked very majestic indeed, as if it was placed there to greet the guests visiting the mansion. The gramophone was somehow calling out to me. I wondered quietly to myself whether it still could work after all these years! I quickly told Sonia that I had to make a quick pit stop just to snap a photo of it.
Then I was led into a small room and I could see the MAC Artists, Ash and Reyo, both very busy at work. Both of them greeted me with their usual friendly smile. I am not so familiar with Reyo personally but I know Ash from way back when he was based at the MAC Gurney Plaza store years before he relocated to Kuala Lumpur where he is now permanently based. Both the artists shared this room with the hair stylists for the play who occupied the other half of the room. I took a quick peek into an adjoining room, where there were long racks of clothing on hangers, all ready for the actors and actresses of the play.
Seated near the mirrors were two actresses, one was being made up by Ash and the other was being made up by Reyo. Each one of the artists had their own makeup table. Laid out on each table were various brushes, bottles, makeup palettes and other tools of the trade. There were some face charts which were pasted on the mirrors.
One of the actresses, who was being made up by Ash, looked as if she was really enjoying it. She had her head tilted back and her eyes were closed (as if she was taking a nap, and perhaps maybe she was!) To me, she looked as if as she was at the hairdresser’s and her hair was being washed! I was rather surprised as I had never come across someone in that position while makeup was being applied. I think I must try out that position the next time I have my makeup done! The actress looked so comfortable in her laid back position that felt that I might interrupt her pleasant nap and wake her up if I began to speak. I then spoke to Ash in a whisper. I asked him whether he had any products from any of the upcoming collections with him as I wanted to have a sneak peek of the products if possible. He replied that at the time the new items had not come out yet and so they were using the products from MAC’s permanent collection.
Both the MAC Artists were already here in Penang more than a week ago. They were here during the initial rehearsals of the play and so at the material time the new collections had not yet been released. Ash was meticulously putting the finishing touches to the actresses’ face and was busy blending parts of her face with some concealer from MAC’s Studio Correct And Conceal Palette/Light (RM149.00). Her face simply looked flawless. I thought to myself, I must try that out! This was because my own usual speedy makeup routine involved slapping on the foundation as fast as possible and then dusting my face with some loose powder, and then off I go!
I then moved over to Reyo’s makeup table to see what was happening over there. He was putting the finishing touches to another actress’s face and was now ready to move on to another actress. I think it was the actress who played Im. He first started off by putting several cotton wool pads soaked with MAC’s Lightful Softening Lotion (RM150.00, 150ml). The lotion was used as if it was a mask and also to moisturize her skin. I had actually not thought of using the lotion in that way! That was something that which I also had to try out at home. I asked him what were the products that he was going to use on her, and amongst the things he showed me was MAC’s Prep + Prime CC Colour Correcting Cream SPF30 in Neutralize (RM138.00, 30ml) I have used many products from MAC’s skincare range throughout the years, but I have not tried out this particular product myself. The MAC CC Colour Correcting Cream is also supposed to control oiliness. Oiliness? Now, anything to do with controlling oiliness interests me! I did try out the first BB Cream by MAC some time ago but somehow at the material time the product was not really a colour match with my yellowish skintone. To my mind, this CC Cream is worth trying out. I think I will get a sample of it the next time I am at my local MAC Counter to see whether it is a better match to my skintone this time round.
Ever since that day when I was given the golden opportunity to observe both MAC makeup artists in action, I decided to make some changes to my usual daily speedy makeup routine. I am now taking more time to carefully blend my foundation and then I touch up my face where needed with concealer. Believe it or not it, it really makes a difference.
My face now actually looks very much better, almost flawless and I actually find that I do not need to use that much loose powder after all, unlike previously. Furthermore, I manage to pass the final test because at the end of my workday, my face still looks as good! In conclusion, I once again I wish to thank Sonia Chong of MAC Cosmetics Malaysia for giving me the opportunity to go backstage with their artists. On my own, I would not have never had attended such a play like 2 Houses. Furthermore, the opportunity to visit a historical mansion like Soonstead was also priceless. I was also very fortunate in that it is not often that the MAC Artistic Team are here in Penang, since most of the major events and plays usually take place in Kuala Lumpur itself.
The Blue Flamingo
All images are courtesy of The Blue Flamingo.