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:
- I liked it, say, 60% — mostly met expectations .
- 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.
- 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 😛
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.