Posts from the “Event” Category

Head in the clouds, haze in the gallery

Snow introduced me to someone as I came back from my work break. We very briefly talked to confirm that I previously worked in Kakiseni, and then

  • Me: What do you do?
  • HY: I flip books.
  • Me: Oh, okay. *walks back to desk to work*
  • Snow: You’re done with small talk? That was so small a talk…
  • Me: That was a lot of talk for me.

My mind is a cloud at work today. Possibly because I sat through two long sessions of electrocuting my butt in physiotherapy. Or because I’ve been editing numerous complicated multilingual citations in some texts.

I paid for petrol earlier today, and nearly drove off without filling up the tank. It’s not the best day to be an editor.

On the plus side, I’ve been watching the setup of Between States, an exhibition that uses the haze crisis as a starting point of examining Southeast Asia and its identity*It has little robots, and a copy of the ASEAN Agreement of Transboundary Haze Pollution**, moving pixels, medical records, and embroidered jackets — it’s almost like a collection of curios, and I’m keen on it. Also not often I get to see such an interesting exhibition with only four(?) works in a commercial gallery space. Having funding is always nice.

Don’t think I’ll be able to see the exhibition properly until after the opening, which is always the worst time to see a show. It is, however, the best time to get free wine and curry puffs.

Sze (who is curating this) mentioned the ideas behind this project quite a while back, which was difficult to visualise. I’m glad to have an opportunity to see the finalised exhibition (as in, it’s in Malaysia), especially given my personal interest in regional politics regarding the haze. I’ve been disheartened by the larger curator programme Sze is currently enrolled in (which resulted in this exhibition) after Sabahan art collective Pangrok Sulap was censored in Escape from The Sea, but I have faith in Sze’s personal politics and her trajectory as a curator. Can’t say this about a lot of people. Certainly can’t say that about some of the people I see wandering around in the gallery now, who I cannot help but see as the apologist faces of censorship***.

Hiding in the office and working now. Might duck out for some free booze later on, like a proper arts scene person. In the meantime, trudging through my deadlines as my own personal response to the haze in my mind.

*probably
**It bugs me that there’s nothing in the Agreement about disclosing haze information to citizens in ASEAN.
***in other words, 吃死猫, but these are the faces I recognise — even that meaning has changed. Where once I saw Borneo beloved and (vital/rare) allies, now I see them as compromised compromises.

The Language Review

I watched The Language Archive recently with Jac and Bella. Tickets were steep, but worth it. It gave me a lot to think about. It was a pleasure to watch Sukania Venugopal stretch herself in various caricatures, and she had good chemistry with Zahim Albakri as her husband Reshton. I don’t think I’m quite done thinking it through, so I don’t want to blog too much about it.

I am perhaps most drawn to the idea of George, because we see him grappling with heartbreaking contradictions, at a big moment in his life: the woman he loves, Mary, is leaving him.

He works in the romantic setting of a literal language archive, a library of words. Shelves full of tape recordings of dying languages. He is most fond of speaking Esperanto, a language built on the idea that everyone can speak a common language with each other.

George had been finding Mary’s anonymous messages, which she leaves hidden around the house for him. Mary stubbornly denies authorship, but George recognises her language and handwriting, though he dismisses them as gibberish or poor poetry writing exercises. He is also equally dismissive when Mary accuses him of loving ideas, and not people — rationalising deaths of those close to him, and those caught in larger tragedies like earthquakes, and not shedding a tear. George confidently deflects those accusations — his grandmother had been old and ill, her passing was not unexpected, and Mary’s pet dog had never liked him and did not count as a person.

When Mary announces her will to leave George, we see his fear. At this crucial moment, he can’t find the words he needs to convince Mary to stay. If he has the ability to argue and defend, he doesn’t have the emotional maturity for pleading. To George, that is his moment of failure — the inability to inject the force of his true desires into his words, going through a rapid, intense and grand inner monologue cajoling Mary to stay, only to end it by verbally stumbling out a pathethic “Don’t…go…?” He watches as the feebleness of his reaction allows Mary to steel her resolve and exit the door.

George brings his feelings into work, and it doesn’t escape the notice of Reshton and Alta, his research subjects. George rants about them selfishly allowing their world to die by refusing to speak their Elloway language, long thought to be extinct in the world.

Alta gently tries to tell him that the world doesn’t die with the last speakers of a language. As a linguist, George centers his views on language. But worlds die first, followed by the language. The world of the Elloway is already gone, and what Reshton and Alta accept is that “no amount of talk, talk, talk will bring what is gone, back”. The sadness of that scene shredded my heart (also because Sukania is an actor who is effective when she chokes out heartbreak), because it increasingly related to George’s situation.

When a heartbroken George seeks out Mary in her new space, he tells her they speak a language together, a code that only husband and wife can decipher. A world of their own that is beautiful, and would be left to die if they were to separate and not speak that language anymore. Mary sadly replies she has never understood what George has been trying to say. It is the tragedy that follows when words fail.

Mary has found happiness, and lives in a new world. George finally walks away, but not before he leaves a tape with Mary — recordings of “I Love You” said in many languages for the archive. It is beautiful. And it is not enough. It’s a world that has died, and cannot be brought back by words, languages. George never finds love again.

I laughed so much during various points of the show.  Wept a fair bit too. And I returned to watch it a second time. So maybe the message that caps the show has merit: pain or pleasure, whatever the cause, the cut to the heart feels the same.

Titus Andronicus

I watched Titus Andronicus recently with my colleagues, Lynn and Nora. I don’t hang out with Nora much, so it was interesting to talk to her. Unlike some of my colleagues, Nora actually is interested in the arts and will make her own initiative to attend shows. It’s how we met Nora anyway — through a public call for submissions by the sister organisation of the people I work for. This was her winning entry.

This would be Nora’s first ever Theatrethreesixty play. Lynn and I both have projects we’ve run with T360, been for quite a few of their shows, and know some of the people in the production. In fact, since Lynn got the tickets, I may have been watching the show on comps (complimentary tix). It’s difficult to say because we also sometimes purchase tix on behalf of each other, although she’s the only one with access to comps.

The three of us had dinner nearby, then dropped into DPAC for the show, 150 mins long.

When we left, we naturally compared notes:

  • Lainie: I hated it.
  • N: I liked it.
  • [ pause. recalibrate. look at each other. ]
  • L: …why?
  • N: Did you not like it because it was violent?
  • L: I have a lot of tolerance for anger, violence and sadism.

I was not expecting to completely disagree with Nora on our first theatre outing together. We eventually established that minimally, we agreed the blocking interrupted our viewing for extended times at some points and that the lighting fried our eyes (the promo did say “visually stunning”). I’m sure the lighting will look lovely on screen as picture or video, but sitting in that bright light bath was uncomfortable. I tried to get her to go mamak after to pick her brains (also, my PMS has triggered my hunger by then), but Lynn needed to get back to work.


I only have unmeaningful encounters with Titus — I don’t enjoy the text. I read Shakespeare when I was too young and unguided to enjoy some of the works. It didn’t help that I read Shakespeare because there was a severe limit to fiction sold in Ipoh outside of the “Classics” category. As an adult, I don’t think I would bother with classic Shakespeare productions at all if we didn’t keep staging it here. I don’t mind clever interpretations or twists, but it is the cleverness I enjoy, not the Shakespeare.

This was the first time I was seeing a show related to Titus, much less a full production. It was a long and heavy show, so my mind was a bit overwhelmed when I stepped out of the theatre.

To simplify: I found this production of Titus Andronicus way too cartoony and rough.

Here are some notes and thoughts that I hope hold up, given my delay in writing this nearly a month later. I am too lazy to describe the play, so if you didn’t watch it, here’s the event page (hope it helps!):

→ The play starts off really, really slow. Everyone walks around slowly, picking up clothes from the floor, putting on their skins and their characters I suppose. I damn near snoozed through this part, but was kept awake wondering why Meng Kheng’s white clothes were a pale baby pink, and whether this was a comment on his comfort in masculinity or whatever.

To be fair, I was crabby and tired when I arrived, in exactly the mood you don’t want critics to be in when they arrive at your show (although I was there to support the show, not as a critic).

→ I saw a giant foam sculpture of a head swept aside with a brush of the hand.
This is the moment that cemented the cartoon filter for me in this show. Giant props bouncing on stage.

→ Tamara is the…I want to say antihero…but in this production, her introduction is more a supervillain origin story. She rather reminded me of Ursula in Little Mermaid. Arched eyebrows, sensual glee at violence, not very regal. I could argue even Ursula was a more complex character given how slippery she was negotiating with Ariel.

For a queen with the ability to orchestrate the downfall of a rival nation, Tamara is…unexpectedly coarse. She acts like some scheming gangster from the world of Jagat. It is difficult to imagine she has followers, or even experience in a royal court. Certainly can’t imagine any of the Malaysian royal family layaning Tamara seriously. Was her empire a primitive one? Is she some warrior tribe’s queen? Were there only 100 people in her kingdom? Are the other 99 her offspring? 

It was a struggle to see the loudly wailing woman throwing herself at the feet of an emperor and begging for clemency as a newly captured queen, instead of a peasant.

I think if Tamara was truly a simple villain, just the offensive slight from being dethroned and captured should be adequate to start the revenge. But we are to believe this woman is spurred by the murder of her son. However, the character doesn’t steel herself for the actions she’s about to take, she’s already the villain she needs to be. I also don’t know my Shakespeare (or anything about Titus Andronicus) well enough at all to be certain, but surely there is more depth to be found in this character? A cunning and desperate queen, using her sexuality and political experience to conquer another kingdom. 

→ The fight scenes look quite legit, but has moments where it looks kinda showy and…cartoony. A neck is snapped between a pair of knees, wrists are twisted, another neck is snapped in an armlock — it’s like a scripted wrestling fight, occasionally you see moves one might hesitate to use in a real brawl unless you’re an expert/a gorilla. I kinda liked it, actually.

During the show, I found myself wishing the fight scenes had some cool swordplay. After watching Tragedi Hamlet, maybe no swords is a good thing. Much as I like Arief Hamizan in some shows, he is not suited for Laertes and looked like a twirling fairy (the mythical being, not the slur) casting a spell when he jumped and spun after Hamlet with a sword. It looked like something that belonged in Sinbad the Musical, to do Tragedi Hamlet a disservice in comparison.

→ Slick video, but I’ll let the various accents and speeches in this video clue you in on the experience overall listening to the performers live.

→ When Anrie’s character is dragged off and raped, the two sons violating her behaved like cartoon hyenas from The Lion King. David Perico Lim gave it a spirited go throughout the show, and was entertaining. He’s Obviously Acting, but in a playful way like he’s determined to put on a solo show to give you your money’s worth. I liked his enthusiasm, and ability to maintain a few noticeably different characters. However, this also cast a glaring light on the flaws of his fellow cast mate Shaun, who frequently was onstage with him.

The only time I appreciated Shaun in this show was when he played the violin in the pantomime scene, although I do wonder if the cost of the pantomime scene was that we had to have Shaun Chen in the play. First time I’m seeing him hold such a big role, but man, squinting your eyes and mouthbreathing doesn’t count as emoting, and he couldn’t hold one character, much less a few different ones.

→ I terasa secondhand awkwardness during the 2nd act’s pantomime scene — I liked the blocking, but only because Kien Lee didn’t make his appearance behind me. He was spouting a whole bunch of crazy lines while standing behind a row of audience members (audience was seated on all four sides of the stage), and I think we all noticed how awkward it was for the people with their backs to him. I mean, I spent about as much time looking at their uncomfortable expressions as I did paying attention to Kien Lee. So. Awkward.

I wonder if it was intentional — if it was, it would fit in with a lot of moments in the play that were designed to be extremely awkward in the hopes of shocking/being seen as daring, like the rape scene, or a sex scene, or a murder. Possibly the only way it could be more awkward in its chosen setting was if audience was required to participate even further beyond watching. Like a trio of queen, Aaron and hapless audience member humping on the floor.

→ Somewhere in the first act I was struggling to stay awake. A girl sitting across the theatre from me straight up fell asleep, and at one scene in the second act I heard a soft snore escape from her. And I’m easily influenced so I got groggy too.

→ Anrie played a character whose name I cannot remember. Basically, she plays the girl-in-fridge character; sweet girl who is tragically wronged to spur on the actions of male characters. I don’t care that Shakespeare came way before DC Comics, I only care that this trope is exhausting.

For the first few minutes of the play I mistakenly thought she was romantic with her brother. Seeing their romantic escapade was like watching a cat try to love a potato. Anyway, after it has been established that she is a sweet lovely and beloved character, she is dragged off, raped and her hands and tongue cut off (worst fake hand prop ever).

It’s pretty difficult to take her tragedy seriously, because the treatment of it was so campy. She basically made UuuuuUUUuuu sounds throughout, like a child pretending to be a ghost. The production revelled in the “injured animal/tongueless fury” noises she made, and I’m pretty sure it even got incorporated into the sound design.

If the cries were suppose to leave a lingering sense of horror in the show, it didn’t work. I really do wonder if a female director would have made a similar decision to dive with so much distasteful glee at exploiting the violence against a female character. I get that violence is integral to Titus, but a lot of the violence in this show was a campy, gleeful ‘ha-ha! this will discomfort you!’ fist-pumping. It never really does land a blow. Unless you’re an actor in the show. 

→ The emperor. The casting for this show is rabak, but not in the “we did blind casting and took the best people for each role” kind of way. More like the “this is so visually interesting because the cast doesn’t fit!”

The actor, Tika, who has done some more interesting work in the past, ended up as our grand emperor who is wound around Tamara’s crafty finger. Tika struggles to portray a powerful, prideful man, shouting her way through the production in an effort to display power and authority. She doesn’t actually get commanding. She shouts a lot, takes big steps, puffs up bigger than she is — but she’s still not a king. It is difficult to imagine who would follow this king. Between Tika and Tamara, it looks more like a couple in a mental asylum playing pretend. I might have preferred it if Tika and the Tamara actor switch roles, I think Tika would have been able to add more subtlety and restraint to Tamara. It would also have been a more pleasing first encounter of Tika in a full-length show (that isn’t a series of vignettes stitched together).

→ Meng Kheng has grown as an actor. It’s not super great at this show, but it’s alright. It’s certainly better than his performance at Macbeth, and he’s lost the awkwardness he had as an ensemble member years ago in Rose Rose. That’s a good thing, and not everyone grows out of it. I think he could do with more character development, but that seems like a fairly uniform feedback for the entire cast. I can’t remember his character’s name.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 3.19.31 AM

→ The set made no sense until the last few minutes of the show. I spent a long time wondering why I was looking at this ugly white plastic rectangle, until the spectacular blood bath happened. Then I figured this must be why some of the ‘white’ clothes looked slightly pink — I watched the show near the end of its run and I guess the colour clung to the clothes.

→ I liked the pie scene (a mother unknowingly eats her children!) and I wish they had played more with the scene. But I suppose too much comedy would have been at odds with the general tone of the show. I would have welcomed it though. Although by the second half, I would definitely have enjoyed any distraction.

→ I had no appreciation for the costumes, and I don’t like military figures being played by bare-footed actors. You’re wearing modern soldier clothes, put on some boots dammit.

→ Aaron. What to say about Aaron. He cuts a fine and intimidating figure onstage. But I can’t tell if he has a lisp, or if he’s just not comfortable with English. Either way, makes it quite difficult to play the character he does when there is so much struggle with the text. He can cut a menacing figure, being one of the bulkier cast members (maybe even the bulkiest?), but his speech impedes the performance. Also quite a cartoony villain. Worst onstage sex scene with Tamara, almost as bad as the hand prop or Anrie’s tongueless wailing.

→ There was a strange choice for lighting design — it definitely got in the way of the production, with actors ducking to avoid banging their heads against them (and in one case, actually swatting the lights out of the way), and awkwardly manoeuvring props brought onstage to avoid collision.

→ Kien Lee played the title character, Titus Andronicus. I’m not sure what to say. He’s not my favourite Shakespeare actor, but he keeps appearing in Shakespeare shows, and probably will keep doing so.

Credit given when due: He does waste away quite splendidly throughout the show. By the time we got to intermission, Titus looks so worn out and haggard, he resembled the end product of an extended hunger strike. It was a most magnificent wasting away (if not very General Titus-like), it looked like he was shrinking as the play went on. Maybe he was losing all that weight in water, because goddamn, he is a sweaty person.

He practically left puddles of sweat everywhere he walked, and there was so very much saliva coming out of him it was like a fountain show all by itself. He sprayed saliva with every major line or emotion, which the theatre lights caught very well. I cringed as I watched a huge glob of spit slowly fall onto Anrie’s face when he cradled her and wept. I almost want to give the spit its own place in the programme book.

For someone who appears in so many Shakespeare productions, Kien Lee’s pronunciation and enunciation are both questionable and erratic. You never know when he’ll let an extra double vowel fly, or find a fun new way to pronounce a word. Will he say “bosom” or “boo-som”? It’s anyone’s guess. In this regard, he is a most versatile man.

I don’t think it helps that I’m not a fan of local Shakespeare productions, whereas he seems quite dedicated to being a huge part of the local Shakespeare scene. And this is the year of #Shakespeare400, so if this isn’t his year to shine, I don’t know when that would be.

→ I think the rest of the cast (a guy and a girl) weren’t in roles that suited them.

I was very excited by Theatrethreesixty when it was first formed, and they do a lot of interesting projects — but the big productions are the ones that I can’t connect with. I much prefer the smaller shows they do. Titus Andronicus? Definitely not my cup of tea.


Deric of Daily Seni enjoyed and approved of the show, much more than I did. You can read his review here.

You Are Here.

My mother is in KL for a short trip. I brought her to Antipodean in Bangsar for coffee and a late lunch. Since we were in the area, I decided to bring my mother to VWFA to see Vincent Leong’s show — You Are Here.

Vincent is one of the few artists who takes on the Malaysian identity likeably (remember “Run, Malaysia Run“?), with a light touch.

Karya Ahmad Bahaya

Anyway, the naughty part of this exhibition is Karya Ahmad Bahaya. This is not the first piece of work Vincent has done of something withering. Karya Ahmad Bahaya looks like the follow up to another by Vincent, called meLayu (worth a watch).

There’s quite a lot going on here: photographs from within derelict buildings, juxtapositioned against views of local landmarks within the building’s broken windows or demolished walls. A collaborative effort with the public to produce a hand-drawn map of Kuala Lumpur (the graphic designer in me loves this, but it still feels too short of content to be awesome).  Light boxes with images of reflections taken from televisions — of living rooms, the outside world, and more*.

My mother and I walked around the entire gallery, pausing before the two photographs for “Keeping Up with the Abdullahs”. You can see they’re done like those really old school official royal portraits.

It could be like the general tycoon’s family portrait too, but then the humour of the objects they’re carrying in these pieces wouldn’t translate as well**.

Vincent Leong | Keeping Up With the Abdullahs 1 | 2012 | Digital C-print on photographic paper | 65 x 99 cm (img from VWFA.net)

Vincent Leong | Keeping Up With the Abdullahs 2 | 2012 | Digital C-print on photographic paper | 65 x 86 cm (img from VWFA.net)

My mother and I disagreed on these very “ketuanan Melayu” portraits of non-Malay families. I said the first portrait still looks Melayu-ish. Maybe because the “Malay” side of my family actually all look quite Javanese/Chinese.

My mother wasn’t really interested in the exhibition otherwise. At the end of it, something in VWFA finally caught her eye. She walked to the huge, floor-to-ceiling window in VWFA that looks out at the many boutiques across the road,  and asked “Is that a sale going on?”.

When I gave her a (perhaps slightly judgey) look…

  • Mom: What? I always say I am Jennifer Yeoh, not Jennifer Yeoh-gurt.
  • Lainie: Hah?
  • Mom: I’m not cultured.
  • Lainie: AIYOH

MY MOTHER WINS CRINGE OF THE DAY.

SHE WINS CRINGE OF MY LIFE.


*The Abdullahs are the easiest work to discuss, but I am more taken with the lightboxes idea. I need to take another look, the lightboxes were having some (electrical?) trouble the day I went.
**my family’s photograph from many years ago, when my aunt got married in Ipoh, and my grandfather only had ten grandkids (as far as I know):

After: Imports — a double bill (21st June – 1st July)

I watched a double bill production, Imports, at KLPAC. If you want to know whether you should watch it, the overall answer is: Yes. Can layan.

I won’t do a review, but these are some brief thoughts from the production:

  • Street Lamp Named Desire (SLND) and Methods work well in the short format — 30 minutes each is about right.
  • Of the double bill, Methods is the stronger of the two. It is denser, maintains a better pace, and the gedikness and bitchiness you see are quite effective. SLND could do with more editing and less faffing about — it is enjoyable, but at times tedious.
  • Methods and SLND are predictable in different ways. While both delve into love stories, Methods is the more traditional “Ahah! Twist at the end!” sort, whereas SLND is more an exploration on the idea of modern courtly love. And possibly insanity.

Overall, it was a decent night out. I won’t be handing them any awards, but I would still recommend it if you’re looking for a theatre production to layan.

WARNING: Heaps of spoilers ahead! Will ruin surprises in store!
Do not read if you haven’t watched it!

So, that’s probably gonna leave me with just one reader. Here goes:

“Method”, written and directed by Jude James, Adam and Juliet are newly engaged. Juliet meets Cat, an exquisite man, and plans for a dinner for her newfound friend. But Cat has a secret. One that will remind Juliet that love hurts. Real love bleeds.

1) The thing that bedevils promoting a play like Methods is that you can’t say “Some of these characters are gay”, because it ruins the “twist”.

Yet, if you’ve been to enough theatre over the years, never mind all the foreshadowing (including the appearance of mysterious strangers) — purposefully vague writeups and gay-friendly promos are big clues that a twist is coming your way.

Of the twists one could foresee while watching Methods, the Gay Theory pops up fairly quickly. Just sayin’.

2) There’s an energy to Methods I don’t understand — and it is Adam’s relationships.

I’d say Adam and Juliet is a realistic portrayal of an OTT straight relationship — that couple you can’t take seriously and don’t want to hang out with. You expect to see this relationship, especially in college.

Adam and Cat are an OTT portrayal of an unrealistic relationship. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but the effect’s quite jarring la. Can those of the murderous gay literati really date each other? Shouldn’t they have killed each other instead? I hope you don’t have expectations to see this relationship. Even in college.

Like two completely different writers wrote the relationships out. Maybe the actors had a lot of input and I was seeing the resulting differences?

3) I like the song selection.

Briefly talked to the director Jude James after the play. He pretty much said he was happy with the play the way it was, and that I should make of the play whatever I want to. It’s not meant to be very deep*. James has two feature plays coming up. After seeing some of his previous work in Short & Sweet (another one of those “Aiyah, I see the twist” plays), and Methods, I think I can layan his future work. Will try to keep an eye out for them.

Rehearsals for Imports (photo by AJ Ng, taken from Imports event page — click to visit)

“Streetlamp Named Desire”, written by Thomas Pang and directed by Marvin Wong, is a modern day fairytale down to the talking pigeons. The girl of his dreams is moving away; what is a lowly doorman to do?

1) All three actors from Methods are in SLND, along with Clarence Kuna (who plays the doorman).

Gonzalo (who plays Cat in the previous play) is a very experienced actor, and onstage with the other three, it shows. He dominates every scene, and his energy level is quite consistently high. Even as a pigeon that goes off on a Spanish rant every so often over his doorman friend’s awkward attempts at romance.

The others range from average to good, but they do get owned by Gonzalo, who is onstage throughout most of the production. He looks really comfortable onstage. He also kinda looks like you could plonk him in a backpacker’s place (ie: hut by the beach in Koh Lipe, Le Village off Chinatown) and he’d…never leave.

2) This is where I realise the trailer I watched for Imports had very little to do with either play. Also, everyone’s quite good looking.

3) I love the randomness of two talking (opiniated, bossy and manipulative) pigeons that may either be the result of a fantasy world, or a doorman driven mad by tedium and unrequited love.

4) I like the premise more than I like the writing — there were lulls in the play, bits of dialogue that made me impatient/bored.  This script needs an editor, and to borrow less obviously from awkward love stories.

5) Watching the play was like reading a comic book. Like an excerpt from one of the earths in Books of Magic, but far less magical.

6) Being the less rigid of the two, SLND also has the potential to be the much more engaging one. Can’t help but imagine it being better. If it were a bit more inspiring, a bit less lost-puppy, a bit more sinister, much wittier. If only the girl were more interesting to anyone besides the doorman.

SLND needs all the little touches and charms that it has yet to discover.

7) “You guys are assholes” is probably the truest line in Imports.

8) I can totally see how the tagline “Human relationships can require inhuman choices” works for both plays.

Anyway, I think this isn’t the kind of show where you’re supposed to go home and strain your brain trying to figure it out la.

If you decided to read the spoilers before going, don’t worry too much about what I have to say about it: just watch Imports, enjoy, go for mamak afterwards. It’s entertaining — and from what I read on Twitter, I definitely had a much better night than my friends who went to watch Prometheus. Heh.

I’d love to hear further comments from other viewers. Especially since I went on preview night.


*I may not be remembering this bit very accurately, but that was the impression I got from the conversation.
Also, Nick, I don’t know if this will make you murderous, but the “f”s are missing from the brochure.

Imports: “Human relationships can require inhuman choices.”

I’ve been offered two complimentary tickets for a theatre production called Imports. I kenal one of the directors, I haven’t been back at Indicine for a while, wouldn’t mind layaning a show, so why the hell not?

They’re also running some ticket promotions (some more interesting than others), so checkitout if you’re seeking some entertainment next week:

The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre proudly presents “Imports”. A double bill featuring works by directors Jude James and Marvin Wong.

“Method”, written and directed by Jude James, Adam and Juliet are newly engaged. Juliet meets Cat, an exquisite man, and plans for a dinner for her newfound friend. But Cat has a secret. One that will remind Juliet that love hurts. Real love bleeds.

“Streetlamp Named Desire”, written by Thomas Pang and directed by Marvin Wong, is a modern day fairytale down to the talking pigeons. The girl of his dreams is moving away; what is a lowly doorman to do?


Dates: 21st–1st July 2012

Venue: Indicine @ KLPAC

Tickets: RM 28 | RM 18 concession (Students, Disabled, TAS cardholders, Thirstea™ Membership card holders)

Promotions:

  1. Ladies Night: 26 June (Tuesday), all ladies will enter for FREE.*
  2. Pink Night: 28 June (Thursday), all those who wear 3 major items of clothing (shoes, shirt, skirt, socks, etc) in pink or in drag, will enter for FREE.
  3. Buy 4 get 1 free upon presentation of receipt from affiliate businesses**
  4. Buy 10 get 1 free
  5. Groupon promotion (expires soon)

Terms and Conditions apply

*All FREE admissions are on a first come first serve basis and only redeemable on the night itself, subject to availability. **Chatime™ and Paradiso™.  (For Chatime™ members, please present your “Thirstea” card instead of receipt)

Promo Video (ie: what do their faces look like)

For more information (like whether your ex/paramour/father has RSVPed), please visit:
Imports @ Facebook


Comp tix did not come with any obligations. At least, not any I received or can feel 😀

Freedom of Expression in Malaysia, 2011

In September 2010, I was retrenched along with the rest of the staff in The Nut Graph. We still freelance for the website, and every so often it’s nice to catch up with everyone and see what the team is up to.

Pei Ling is now with Selangor Times, and Jo-An moved on to join CIJ Malaysia.

Anyhow, Jo-Ann recently presented some very interesting numbers in relation to press coverage for Bersih, at CIJ’s annual Freedom of Expression report. The video below is a collection of highlights from the presentation. Wish I could have been there in person to show support.

Take a look — it’s not a short video, but Jo-Ann makes it seem as such. Reminds me of why being in the office was such a lark:

Interesting to see all those graphs laid out. We all know our media is not fair and balanced, but when its presented in numbers some trends emerge more clearly. It’s a good job collecting and presenting the data — would be awesome if CIJ found the budget to expand its scope for media monitoring next year 😛

[ I’ve posted that lead photo of us leaving the office one last time in other spaces, but I love it because you can tell we’re a happy team. Sad to leave, but it was good. ]

Selipar Jepun, Kasut Tumit Tinggi (flipflops + high heels)

I caught the last performance for Selipar Jepun, Kasut Tumit Tinggi (flipflops + high heels) on Sunday. Inspired by the traditional performance dance-drama Mak Yong, this play was mostly done in Bahasa*.

Don’t really have the time to write about it, but here’s some notes:

  1. I liked it, say, 60% — mostly met expectations .
  2. Use of space was decent, particularly in the earlier part of the play. Blocking gets a bit basic towards the end, and the whole stage started looking needlessly messed up.
  3. Wish I understood better how Mak Yong was translated into the play. Transgendered representation, singing and dancing, sure — but I was picking up more physical theatre elements than Mak Yong. Did I miss something? If there were any Q&A session, I would have attended. Felt like there was a lot more knowledge driving the play that I would have liked access to 😛
  4. The actor lost her fake eyelashes on one eye. And carried on for the rest of the play with one eye looking bigger than the other. This really should have been fixed at some point.
  5. Shiny plastic chairs didn’t match the play’s direction. Maybe wooden chairs would have been better. Or at least, spray paint the plastic chairs. I know it seems like such a ridiculous thing to harp about, but there it goes. We had to wait a while before it got used, but the lesung scenes were funny — if expected.
  6. The most obvious thing lacking in the play was time. The actors could have used more time with the script, and each other*. The gap was showing too frequently onstage, be it during cues from each other, the careful accents, synchronising their movements, or simply remembering their lines.
  7. The characters were interesting. The actors are likeable enough — I think they’re capable of doing good work (and I’ve seen it) — but perhaps they needed more time to deal with the versatility required of their roles.
    Ahmad Firdaus as the storyteller is beautifully suited to the movements required of his main character — however, as the British lover or when doing kungfu moves, it stretches the imagination a fair bit la. Zamzuriah Zahari doesn’t seem as aged onstage when required, but is overall a respectable performer and sings well for this play. Rosman Ishak makes his character(s — I had difficulties telling them apart sometimes) look like a lot of fun.
  8. There were some awkward segues in the play, but the individual stories of the Mak Andam and the aged Mak Yong performer were interesting. Both had stories of love and unworthy men to tell.

 

Overall, I did enjoy the play — and I think that’s the most important. I also liked that the transgendered characters had strong voices/presence, and felt so normalised, and their stories were vividly painted.

I also visited a few galleries in Publika after the play.

Ali Baba Perut Kuali, by Aznam Omar

My favourite was the exhibition At First Glance in White Room @ MAP Publika. Its had its exhibition length extended, so you might still be able to catch it. I love some of the paintings there, especially the ones by Haron Mokhtar. You can read more about it here @ Rachel Jena’s article for Time Out KL.

Publika also has an Art Row (where the picture on top of this post was taken). It’s a prototype, part of an exhibition Kontak! is working on. You have to poke around a bit and get someone to explain things you do, but things get interesting once that happens. You may end up wearing a bull head, for instance.

And if you go up a few floors, UiTM has launched a new art space called Segaris Art Centre. They’re currently exhibiting some student works there. I quite fancied Aznan Omar’s aluminium work there.


*The performance is in Bahasa (not my strongest language) and I missed the first few minutes.
**Selipar Jepun was a separate monologue nominated for Cammies Best Original Malay Script in 2007.

I watched (and hated) Ombak Rindu. The End.

I recently watched Ombak Rindu. The title above is my entire review.

To elaborate: I expected it to be a straight up tragic love triangle story.

Was. Not. Prepared. For. The. Fuckery. It’s like watching an atrociously written rape fantasy*. If the film had a message, it was “Rape is okay if  he’s your husband. Wait for him to fall in love with you”.

I wonder how many feminists were stressed out by this film?

Panel 1: I am a slave-owning rapist. Panel 2: Marry me, slave-owning rapist! I beg of you!

The best thing (or, the only good thing) about Ombak Rindu is that it provided ample material for the recent theatre production Projek Disko Baldi in Love.

When I first watched Projek Disko Baldi in Love (a series of comedy skits)*, I thought “All these budak baik kan, their humour is not wicked enough”. PDB definitely has some very decent laughs installed for the night, but…they could afford to be much, much more jahat 🙂

The one skit where they had me laughing helplessly was the one for Ombak Rindu. I had not watched the film then, but I recognised that its romantic dramas were being mercilessly ridiculed. Tuan Faisal does an excellent job here (even if all he says is “Okay”).

Tuan Faisal is the guy in the center, wearing the hot pink glasses. (Picture from PJLA.com.my)

I think Projek Disko Baldi is worth watching out for. Lots of potential in the current set up, and I would like to see them take on more themes. They’re still finding their feet, and the material needs to be stronger, but they’re already getting a decent bit of it right.

For those who missed the show in February (and those who watched Ombak Rindu) Projek Disko Baldi in Love will be restaged from 27th-29th April 2012 at PJLA. The tickets are affordable, the show is decent, and we could all do with a laugh now and then.

Here are some links:

Projek Disko Baldi @ Facebook
Projek Disko Baldi in Love : RESTAGED @ Facebook Events

Projek Disko Baldi are also nominees in this year’s Cammies Awards, for Best Group Performance and Best Original English Script (may there be a winner this year!).


*I’m not saying rape fantasies are bad. But the one embedded within Ombak Rindu stinks to hell.
*I’m not saying I was entirely sober when I watched this play. I may recommend the same for you. Bars abound in Jaya One.