I just can’t believe my internship has come to an end. It felt so strongly that klpac was the second comfort zone for me in Malaysia other than my campus. And theatre is a gem gleaming in the inward night. Back to the time when I was applying for the internship, I had no idea what kind of life I would be living in the next four months. The only thing I knew was, I want to be in the art industry, and that I want to know how great art is created/curated. I didn’t do much research because the first company popped out from the google research when I keyed in ‘the best art company in Malaysia’ was klpac. Till now I still wonder why I was recruited and how I survived the past four months, since I had no background related to art at all. April 15th witnessed my first day of work. The same time I felt so lost but, the same time, so excited about what would take place in the next second. I was even woke up by a sense of insecurity. So many enlightening ‘first time’s happened here. For the very first time, I knew how a production can be like, and how a great show comes into being. But at the same time, I realised the gap that I need to fill up, in terms of experience, but also knowledge and skills. They said I am lucky that when I started my internship, there were so many ongoing productions that I could be involved. Speaking of that, I can still recall the moment I saw the costume I created for the Mc Donald character presented on the stage where more than a hundred audience were there. I felt so glad that I can create something bare-handed and It was eventually appreciated. It’s the time when I was assigned as the photographer to record some ‘behind-the-scenes’s during the rehearsals that I found out how an interest can be turned into a skill, or even a career. The more skills you excel, the better chance you can stand out from the crowds is what I learned throughout the journey. Being a versatile person can be a plus since luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, which I found so true when I looked through the portfolios of the casts and crews. They already took multi-talents and multitasking skills for granted. During the same day, they can be a teacher in a middle school in the morning and a lighting designer teaching behind the control console for a musical at night. It was during the Thunderstorm production that I had a deeper understanding of “no matter what happen today, we have tomorrow”. Things happened, mistakes occurred. You can’t have everything under your control, so what you can do is plodding with faith and diligence. I am so much amazed by how people strive for freedom of expression and the love of art. Even though governmental support is rarely regarded as an obvious solution to the private art industry, still there are people dare to speak out, and brave to tilt at social injustices. Being an expatriate, I can feel how arts can represent cultural identities and traditions across the country. Nurtured with the boom-and-bust history, it was the diversity of culture and race that created the richness of Malaysian art and its social conducts. And the klpac is such a wonderful place where my warm-hearted colleagues, or to be specific, ‘comrades’, once again proved how language or nationality can’t stop us doing what we are aiming for a joint goal. We argued, quarreled, but also laughed, hugged, supported each other. Overwhelmed with emotions and memory, I finally finishing this article when I am waiting for check-in for the flight to Milan, to further my study on art management. Everything happened in klpac will be a glittering diamond in the deepest recesses of my heart. — by June Zhu Wen 4 September 2019 1:41 AM
Another Don’t Let series is coming up, and this time we going to talk about the iconic theatre duo in Malaysia.
𝐁𝐔𝐘 𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐅𝐑𝐄𝐄 𝐎𝐍𝐄 🎉 The Early bird catches the worm, or cheap ticket. (Shhh! Don’t let my bosses know!)
The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat & MUKA SPACE 木卡空间 proudly present “Don’t Let Joe & Faridah Know” which will feature a variety of short performances inspired and related to The Actors Studio Malaysia and founders, Joe Hasham OAM & Dato’ Dr. Faridah Merican in conjunction with celebration 30th anniversary of The Actors Studio Malaysia. Expect the unexpected as creators each present their own take on The Actors Studio productions but with a twist.
Somewhere over Ipoh, the storm is gathering with increasing speed. But the live electrical wire lying dangerously on the ground in the compound of Zhou Mansion has yet to be fixed ! Inside that sprawling mansion of tin mining towkay Zhou Puyuan, his beautiful but tormented wife Fan Yi is getting increasingly unhappy and angry…..Zhou Ping is finally planning to leave home and is thinking of taking the sweet and young Si Feng with him ….. Over at the servants’ quarters, the conniving Lu Gui is still entertaining the thought of becoming a rich man one day, while Lu Dahai is plotting a major rebellion ….. as for Lu Ma, she is about to make a confession that will change the lives of everyone forever. A dark secret will finally be revealed, that even the rich and powerful Zhou Puyuan is unable to contain !
This is the second time Dato’ Dr. Faridah Merican is directing Cao Yu’s THUNDERSTORM and It’s going to be presented in Hokkien and Cantonese dialects with English surtitles. Faridah has again assembled a star studded cast for this latest production including Mary June Tan as Fan Yi, Season Chee as Zhou Puyuan, Brian Chan is reprising his role as Zhou Ping, Izen Kong as Zhou Chong, Mark Beau de Silva is back as Lu Gui, Amelia Tan is taking on the role of Lu Ma, John Tan as Lu Dahai with Paige Chan as Si Feng. Don’t miss the opportunity to see how they get together to create that devastating storm !
In anticipation of the staging of this 2019 version of the famous play, I posted yesterday about Cao Yu and his work with the hope that it helps to encourage our many younger friends to go and experience the play, to see for yourselves why this Zhou family saga has been so popular over the decades since its first staging in China in 1935.
Over the last 40 years or so, I have been exposed to various versions of Thunderstorm on stage, as well as several movie adaptations of it. Among those, there are only a handful that I have truly enjoyed and here is one that I would like to share with all of you today.
On 25th August 2007 in Shanghai, China, I was very fortunate to see Thunderstorm being performed not as a play, but for the very first time, as an ORIGINAL OPERA. It took place at the main stage of the impressive Shanghai Grand Theatre, featuring a stellar cast of some of the very best opera singers in China at the time and it was of course, sung in Mandarin with English surtitles. It was a sold out performance with leading soprano Gao Manhua as Fan Yi, famous tenors Zhang Jianlu as Zhou Puyuan and Wei Song as Zhou Ping. They were backed by a full orchestra under maestro Zhang Guoyong with 60 chorus singers. It was indeed, a wonderful experience for me to have seen this incredible opera production ! Here are some pics that I have lifted from the programme brochure for your enjoyment. Tomorrow, let us go back further in time to 1983 but it will be nearer to home, to explore yet another incredible performance of Thunderstorm. Stay tune !
There are some part in this world, women still take marriage as the biggest goal of their lives. Even though their married life failed, still they will instill in their daughters that getting a good husbands, marry early and have children is a way to form a happy families.
Is it because women are too weak to be self-support? Is it women definitely need men to lead their life? Or is it because of being constrained by traditional beliefs that it is shameful for nor being marry?
This performance takes place through an actor performing 3 different characters living in different era (grandmother, mother and daughter), and sees how the conflict rise when the elder still raise hopes on the daughter to get married after experiencing their imperfect marriage.
Director – Wong Lay Chin Scriptwriter – Wong Lay Chin / Amelia Tan Performer – Amelia Tan Lighting Design and Stage Manager – Alvie Cheng
Perform in Penang Hokkien (with Mandarin & English subtitle)
For my posting today ( part 3 ), please indulge me a little by allowing me to take all of you back in time to the year 1983. At a personal level, 1983 was a significant year for me because it was in that year that I was promoted to the position of Account Director at J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency that I had joined in 1980 ( then known as PTM Thompson ). Partly to celebrate my promotion, my then boss and mentor Ms. Chong Kheng Mee ( now Puan Sri Kheng Mee Najmuddin ) decided to give me a treat, by inviting me to go with her to see a play that was then performing at the Experimental Theatre, University Malaya. As I recall, Kheng Mee didn’t tell me much about what the play was all about, except that her friend Faridah Merican was acting in it. That name alone was good enough reason for me to accept the invitation without any hesitation.
The play was ” RIBUT “, an adaptation of Cao Yu’s Thunderstorm that was being performed on stage in Bahasa Malaysia for the very first time. I discovered to my delight that Faridah was playing the challenging role of Fan Yi, while the late but then famous Mustafa Noor, was the director plus also taking on the part of Zhou Ping. I could still remember that I was quite impressed with the overall production ( given the many limitations at the time ), from the sets, props and costumes worn by the actors that ” RIBUT ” was keeping true to Tianjing of the 1920s and 30s where the story took place. At the end of that evening the audience gave the cast a standing ovation that they deserved, and Faridah’s portrayal of Fan Yi was so outstanding that it was later reported by The Star. No mean feat in those days by any account !
After the curtain call, Kheng Mee and I went over to congratulate Faridah and that was the first time I was introduced to her. So you see, 1983 was indeed, a very memorable year for me !
Where were you when you heard about the caning? When the news started coming onto our social media feeds that two women were publicly caned for attempted lesbian sex in Terengganu, after we voted a new government in, how did we respond?
When I heard about the caning, I was angry.
Anger, disappointment, and sadness were the sparks for this piece.
I sought out like and un-like minded individuals, artists, and musicians to respond to this event through the theatre. Bringing together our at times united and at other times opposing responses to this caning.
We found Hélène Cixous’ “The Laugh of the Medusa,” as our guiding spirit; we addressed the patriarchy and its reaches within our political, religious, and personal lives; we asked each other and ourselves difficult questions “How does one hold space for the transcendental – religion and God; and within that space celebrate and accept queerness?” and questions seemingly simple “What is intimacy? How are we intimate?”
The collective anger and disappointment which were the seeds of this piece morphed and grew some days into rage and fury and on other days into deep introspection, understanding, and tenderness, as rehearsals went on.
And now, the time is _____, and you are here in Pentas 2. I hope in “to which my brother laughed;” you see our varying responses to this caning; and bear witness to a bit of our selves, and a bit of your own too.
The annual Short and Sweet Festival (or S+S in short) hosted by KPAC is recognized as one of the most looked-forward to stage competitions due to it’s unique spin of capping entries to a maximum of 10 minutes, along with it’s open door policy that opens participation to anyone regardless of performing experience.
For the audience, this means that good shows will be “just right”, and not-so-good shows will be over faster than a bad Tinder date. Everybody wins!
But you’re not here to read a press release.
You’re here to either re-experience some good memories, see what S+S is all about, or to see if your entry is included in the article.
We selected the following entries based on a stringent criteria which involves:
Asking several performers which pieces they found memorable
Availability on YouTube ← probably the most important criteria.
So with that out of the way, let’s head to the first entry on the list…
The Geong Xi is a Vamp (2012)
Quick Synopsis: Chinese family send son oversea to study. Son come back westernized. Asian father is disappoint. Cataclysmic event happen. Basically a TVB drama, except with vampires. Funny. Won 7 out of 13 available awards.
Dreaming Outside the Box (2013)
Quick Synopsis: Jack-in-a-box is in love with Jill-in-a-box. Jill wants Jack to cash her ousside. But they’re both stuck in boxes. How bow dah? Won 8 out of 14 available awards.
300 million (Reconceptualisation of a conception) ( 2014)
Quick Synopsis: A bunch of sperm want to ovulate ovaries. Short and sweet but satisfying…….said no one ever. Except in regards to this piece. Won 3 out of 14 available awards.
Walk with Me (2015)
Quick synopsis: Girl’s relationship with pet doggo from child till adult. Pet doggo’s relationship with girl for his entire life. Listen to music because cannot see performance past tears. Won 3 out of 14 available awards.
Disorder in the Court (2012)
Quick Synopsis: Trial of the century. Datuk accused of murder faces pun-ishment. Musical actors singing in their law suits giving arresting performances. Too many puns? You be the judge. Courted5 out of 13 available awards.
These videos are terrible!
Agreed. Videos can never perfectly capture the magic of the stage – even with with dual camera phones (we tried).
If you’d like to witness the magic of Short and Sweet for yourself, you’re in luck! S+S musical is happening NOW at the following times.