Keeping A Confused Form Alive
Trying to keep a confused form alive. Like one on a brink of death (I'm assuming. I've never been dead before) where the person is confused. Wondering, who am I, what's happening, why is everything spinning, why is everything in a daze, am I going to die?
The thing is, he's not dead yet (again I'm assuming, the gender this time). Just confused of his state, his direction, to stay alive or resigned to death.
More than 2 decades ago, I began dabbling with Malay theatre. I wanted to be a movie actor or at least a tv actor but not being good looking enough, I guess theatre is the best place to act. At least the audience is far enough not to see my face. One of the organisation I took part in practised "classic Malay theatre". I thought, this is good. There is a distinction between Malay theatre and other forms of theatre. Being a minority race, it is very easy for culture and art form to be dismissed and soon dissolved.
Sidetrack: I for one, a Malay who is not a fan of its culture and customs. I avoid them as much as I can (especially weddings and family gatherings). But "art forms" is a different playing field. This I mean performing, visual and literary arts. It's a totally different interest.
Now then this organisation soon got bored of classical theatre as it didn't appeal to the youth of those days and they moved on to modern Malay theatre. It worried me then, but whoever disagreed would be "backdated", "outdated" and afraid of "progress". It didn't bother me much anyway. But it just struck me, if Malay theatre looks like any other form of theatre, especially English theatre, then what difference does it make? I just kept it to myself and not bother. I thought, who else would bother too anyway and who else would think like me.
Sidetrack: Theatre is a delicate art form. Its creation needs a lot of thoughts and consideration. Often heavily priced and at a specific performance location. This is the 21st century. We are not in early 20th century anymore. Entertainment is abundant and accessible. Why would one pay $50 to watch a theatre performance, not including the price and time to travel to the performance space, when he or she could watch a heavily CGI movie with A list Hollywood actors (good looking ones) for less than half the price at a most conveniently located cinema. Oh heck. One can now even watch movies online, free. Let's not even talk about TV.
So true enough, many years later (always ahead of my time), someone posed a question to me on why the organisation had to continue doing modern Malay theatre when it looks like any other English theatre performance? The only difference is language. Turn off the distracting surtitles and make the actors speak in English and it's more practical for everyone. You can even have more audience members from other races.
I saw that coming 10 years before I was asked that question. Which is why I am still dabbling with Malay theatre, making it accessible, free, visually exciting for everyone to see and yet, distinctively Malay in flavour and presentation.
Sidenote: What is Malay anyway? I have my own definition of what Malay is. But since I am not an academic, nor a graduate, it may not be considered "reliable". Meet me in person and I will explain my definition.
And so, up comes my next play entitled Mahameru. It wasn't totally my idea of course. The members of Pentas Karyawan has been trained to produce Malay theatre and with some of their ideas, I pieced this up.
Many would think that it's only a "school play" so many won't bother to have a look. I gave up on that. I shall stay true to my work, my art, my colleagues, my students and their audience, making it enjoyable for all.
MAHAMERU. Sanskrit for The Great Mountain. Buddhist-Jain-Hindu Mythology. Presented in Malay with English surtitles. A play set in a period of pagan and religious transition. The people of the island, exploring changes within themselves. Changes from outside. Change within the ranks and changes forced onto them. How do they accept changes? And are all changes good?
And how is this Malay theatre? I can't answer that for you if you would only listen from your point of view. Maybe you can just watch. Either you enjoy yourself, or go home criticising it or try to dwell into the layers of it. That's the beauty of theatre. There's something for everyone to take home. Whether you like it or not.
Seats are fully booked though but.... we might just have little surprises for you...
Web logs of art activities on a regular basis (hope).