Tak­ing a trip

Masakini Theatre Com­pany’s Malaysia Kita takes you on a jour­ney through a shadowplay won­der­land.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By ROUWEN LIN star2@ thes­tar. com. my

IT sounds like a story like any other: let’s have two peo­ple jump into a car and ex­plore the coun­try to­gether, make stops at all the must- visit tourist spots, but also un­cover lesser- known gems along the way. Typ­i­cal? Think again. There will be no di­a­logue, no nar­ra­tion, and no text to help the plot move along. You won’t even see the ac­tors’ faces or the clothes that they are wear­ing.

In­stead, Masakini Theatre Com­pany founder Sabera Shaik, 63, has set out to craft a tale from light and shad­ows, shapes and sounds. Six­teen ac­tors and dancers have come to­gether to weave magic be­hind the screen and be­yond, at the com­pany’s lat­est shadow theatre pro­duc­tion, Malaysia Kita. It is the third in­stall­ment in the Wayang Se­ries.

The first, The Story Of Kuala Lumpur, was staged in 2012, fol­lowed by Malaysian Sto­ries last year.

“All of Masakini Theatre’s pro­duc- tions are very much fo­cused on Malaysia and telling Malaysian sto­ries. The theme of Malaysia Kita is no dif­fer­ent. But in­stead of look­ing at sto­ries from the past, we are go­ing to delve into the present this time,” says Sabera of the show’s set­ting.

Part trav­el­ogue, part meta­mor­pho­sis, and part jour­ney of self- dis­cov­ery, Malaysia Kita brings au­di­ences on a whirl­wind one- hour jour­ney to ev­ery state in the coun­try.

The an­cient art of shadow play is once again thrown into sharp re­lief in this show, of­fer­ing a unique in­sight into this coun­try we call home, pre­sented in a fa­mil­iar art form that has been given an in­no­va­tive twist by Masakini Theatre.

Be blown away by a cave ex­plo­ration, try your hand at polo, test your pa­tience in our no­to­ri­ous traf­fic jams, and watch the in­fa­mous mat rem­pit whizz by.

Go on a river cruise and get up close and per­sonal with a larg­erthan- life prawns, im­merse your­self in the hus­tle and bus­tle of Chow Kit Road and then, when the sun sets,

head on over to Kuala Se­lan­gor for the breath­tak­ing fire­flies.

A visit to a na­tional park also means say­ing hello to all crea­tures great and small. And while you are at it, why not scale Mount Kinabalu and touch the sky?

More of­ten than not, a shadow theatre show in­volves pup­petry and cutouts, but Masakini Theatre has spent many years ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the hu­man form in telling sto­ries through shadow, sil­hou­ette and move­ment.

“Masakini’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion uses the hu­man form as its medium to craft ev­ery­thing au­di­ences will see on the stage. A cer­tain el­e­ment of con­tor­tion­ism is re­quired from the ac­tors to en­sure the re­al­ism of the story they are telling,” says Sabera.

At a re­hearsal last week, the ac­tors spent con­sid­er­able time per­fect­ing their take on squids pro­pel­ling them­selves lazily through the depths of the ocean, com­plete with wrig­gly ten­ta­cles.

Be­hind the screen, they took on the role of con­tor­tion­ists, twist­ing and hold­ing some­what biz­zarre poses to col­lec­tively form a co­her­ent form when viewed from the op­po­site side of the screen. In a blink of an eye, they switched from marine crea­tures to a tapir am­bling in the wild, then mor­phed into a car ... and then a puffer fish.

Malaysia Kita, di­rected by Sabera and Chi Azim, is brought to life by nine ac­tors who have teamed up with seven dancers from lo­cal dance com­pany Dua Space. It is the se­cond time Masakini Theatre and Dua Space Dance Theatre are col­lab­o­rat­ing on such a pro­ject.

Malaysia Kita’s mu­sic is com­posed by mu­si­cian and com­poser Kevin Vong, with chore­og­ra­phy by An­thony Meh and Aman Yap of Dua Space Dance Theatre.

“Hav­ing dancers on the team brings a dif­fer­ent sort of syn­ergy be­hind the scenes, which I like. I also think hav­ing them on board in­spires the ac­tors to push them­selves fur­ther,” ex­plains Sabera, be­fore adding that it is in­deed a big chal­lenge to put to­gether a show of this na­ture.

And she doesn’t just mean phys­i­cal strength; she be­lieves that be­ing part of a shadow theatre show re­quires so much more than that.

“The ac­tors, whose ages range from 21 to 37 years old, had to do lots of stretch­ing and strength ex­er­cises so that they would be sup­ply enough to meld with the dancers. But the men­tal as­pect is also im­por­tant, es­pe­cially as we prac­tise up to four hours a day, and some­times more,” she shares.

As to what Masakini Theatre has up its sleeve, Sabera al­ready has big plans for the next per­for­mance that will be par­tially pre­sented out­doors, though she is keep­ing mum on what ex­actly this en­tails. But one thing’s for sure – au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion is most wel­come.

Malaysia Kita will run at Au­di­to­rium Ban­daraya, Jalan Raja Laut in Kuala Lumpur from March 30 to April 3 at 8.30pm. Tick­ets for the Kuala Lumpur shows are priced at RM82 and RM52. It will also be shown at Au­di­to­rium D’Sury, Kom­pleks JKKN Negeri Sem­bi­lan, Jalan Sun­gai Ujong in Seremban on April 8- 9 at 8.30pm. Tick­ets for the Seremban shows are RM22. To pur­chase tick­ets or for more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.masakinithe­atre.com.my.

Photo: NORAFIFI EH­SAN/ The Star

Masakini Theatre founder and di­rec­tor Sabera Shaik has a pas­sion for telling sto­ries through shadow theatre.

2 Malaysia Kita, the third in­stall­ment in Masakini Theatre’s Wayang se­ries, is brought to life by 16 ac­tors and pro­fes­sional dancers.

Masakini Theatre weaves to­gether her­itage and cul­ture in this Malaysia Kita tale, set in present day Malaysia.

— Pho­tos: NORAFIFI EH­SAN/ The Star

uses the hu­man form to cre­ate move­ment and shad­ows, promis­ing an un­for­get­table story about our beloved coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.