At 陈珊妮Sandee Chan's Esplanade performance (as a friend CT puts it, it's been a more than 10-year wait for fans on our island!), she used the words 認真 to describe how she had selected the songs lined up for last evening's fantastic concert.

Most online dictionaries define 認真 as "serious", "earnest" and "to take seriously." The problem with Chinese-English translations is that the word often means all of this and more. 認真 suggests a degree of genuine care that is less removed than seriousness and more calculated than just earnestness.

I would like to think that the folks behind Friday night's play Invisibility/Breathing, also at the Esplanade under its HuaYi Festival, were equally 認真. There was a precision and detail in actor Oliver Chong's performance that warranted the adjective. And despite the work's weakness, the same professional dedication was apparent in the set design and construction, the sound and direction.

All of this makes the weak applause - particularly at Invisibility/Breathing - rather depressing.

Friends, the next time you attend a performance, be it a play, a dance or a concert, if you recognise that what happens on stage is taking place with the utmost of dedication, thought and craft of the performer sustained over an hour or even two, please do not be stingy with your applause. It won't cost you much.


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