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Personalities of the Week- Adiwijaya,Maya Tan Abdulah, Shamaine Othman and Na’a Murad

Personalities of the Week- Adiwijaya,Maya Tan Abdulah, Shamaine Othman and Na’a Murad

Meet the writers of MIASMA .

   mi·as·ma noun \mīˈazmə,mē- \
: a highly unpleasant or unhealthy smell or vapor.
Synonyms: stink, reek, stench, smell, fume, odor, whiff

A rare occasion, when we feature not one but four  writers from the local theater scene from the play, Miasma. Miasma, rated 18SX is starred by Helen Ann Peters, Amelia Chen, Zukhairi Ahmad, Iskandar Zulkarnain, Siti Farrah Abdullah, Gregory Sze and veteran writer actor Na’a Murad. MIASMA, the play is a “….series of short plays which touch on the secrets buried deep beneath our relationships. Secrets that demand to be exposed, but which risk ripping the fabric of our interconnected webs.…”.

We dig deep into the psyche of our local writers and what they hope to achieve with their stories, daring and yet very real  topics which we can take courage from and explore then maybe life can imitate art , in dealing with issues in our lives and society. We also caught up with them on what’s up and coming for  them in 2014.

 

Adiwijaya

BAPAK : A young man tries to get his family to own up to a dark secret, oblivious to the repercussions that awaits him

 1) A little history on you and your past works.adiwijaya

I started in theatre in 2003 as an actor but eventually, I guess found my place as a writer. I began writing for stage in 2008, with Mangli, a short piece that later was included as part of a double bill, Kisah Gadis. My first full feature, Rancangan Harijadi Terhebat Adli, was staged in 2010. In 2009, my script, Allah won best script at the Short and Sweet festival.

2) What inspired you to you write this particular story?

I was intrigued by the idea of uncomfortable family confrontations that revolve around family dinners. Asian families usually include family dinners in their tradition as a way to bond and get updates about each other, but from my experience, it is also usually a time of feigned cordiality between distant rival siblings, and also the most opportune time for the juiciest of secrets to suddenly surface. But beyond that, I think that the issue touched on in my piece also deals with a certain unease that permeates in many families that choose instead to be in denial or keep quiet in order to keep appearances as normal as possible.

3) Whenever you write a play, like this one, what do you hope the audience will get from it?

I hope there is a reaction or resonance among them. They don’t necessarily have to enjoy it, that’s not the main intent. The objective is to get them to start talking and reflecting on the issue that is being presented to them. Humans sometimes need to see disturbing things that other people are facing, it helps them to process and reflect on their own lives.

sitifarrahin raihanah

4) What is your hope for the Malaysian Performing Arts Scene?

I hope there is a more robust and encouraging output of new, effective original local plays. What I mean by effective is that, regardless of the themes or style of the pieces, I hope that they are able to intrigue and captivate audiences, but necessarily entertaining, but hopefully cathartic. If they’re also fun, that would be the cherry on the pie.

5) What are your hopes for 2014?

Personally, I hope to have more full length plays produced by next year. To get myself beyond this fear of criticism and praise, and just write. Not because I think I’m necessarily good, but because at this moment, someone has to. Having said that, I how there will be more original works in the coming months. I know of many interesting writers who are passionate and want to write, and I’ve seen the calibre of the generations of writers before me. I am encouraged by our shared past heritage and optimistic that the tradition of good storytelling through stage can survive.

 

Maya Tan Abdullahmayatanabdullah

DUNIA LELAKI : A young man struggles to express his true self in a society full of expectations and a woman’s view of a supposedly male-dominated world.

1) A little history on you and your past works.

I’ve wanted to write since I was about nine years old. My parents would buy me books, but I would finish them in a jiffy and for lack of reading entertainment I began inventing my own stories. I can’t remember a time where I don’t have some form of unfinished writing in a notebook somewhere. Since then I’ve had 2 plays staged –  ‘Life’s A Twitch’ at the Short & Sweet Festival 2009 and ‘Wacky Bar’ staged by PJ Live Arts, also in 2009, starring in no particular order –  Daphne Iking, Amber Chia, Patrick Teoh, Joanne Kam and many other talented actors – and ‘Dunia Lelaki’ will be my third piece to be staged. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have had my short stories published in Esquire Magazine and anthologies such as the newly launched, ‘KL Noir – White’ by Fixi. (http://fixi.com.my/produk/klnoirwhite).

2) What inspired you to you write this particular story?

I was inspired by Malaysian theatre director, Nam Ron’s work. His theatre group, Rumah Anak Teater, has always touched on the truth of living in Malaysia. Telling the truth is just as important as creating fantasies. I wanted to address the rules of living in a patriarchal society, where men are then required to live up to the standards of the conservative patriarchal image. There is power to be had, but there’s a price to pay. Women are always considered the lesser sex, yet they are larger in number, and there is power in numbers. The woman has her own powers too, abilities that men require, and when used wisely, can navigate the man’s world – up to a point.

I was also inspired by playwright, David Ive’s book –  “All In The Timing”, a book of short plays. One of these plays has influenced my decision to disrupt the linear narrative in my piece. Sometimes, in life, we imagine different scenarios playing out, and often, we wish that we can re-do some of the scenes in our own lives. I’ve chosen to include the what-if possibilities in my piece.

3) Whenever you write a play, like this one, what do you hope the audience will get from it? 

I am hoping that the audience can walk away perhaps having recognised themselves or people in their lives through the characters in the piece, realize how silly they can sometimes be (male or female), and laugh at themselves a little. Sometimes, we take ourselves way too seriously.

4) What is your hope for the Malaysian Performing Arts Scene?

The biggest hope is to create good works. I hope we tell our stories and innovate in ways that can be globally appealing. To do this, you need good taste, subtlety. Even when the subject matter is distasteful, there’s always a way to do it so that it hits the right note. Money is not always the answer to doing things well, so creators and performers have to be creative and not let the lack of funding be a barrier.dunia lelaki2

Secondly, I hope that audiences put theatre in their Top 5 recreational To-Do lists.  With the increase in performing arts spaces, this is already happening, and when standards are raised in productions, the Malaysian audience will respond. This is why it is so important to do things well. Malaysian audiences are increasingly more sophisticated, and while they may not all take to shows that are too abstract or artsy, they are willing. The long term plan is to induct the audience with shows that are palatable, without compromising on standards – just as a restaurant caters to local tastes – and then as the audience evolves into a more mature creature, our shows should then evolve to a more global level. The only way is up.

When the audience is convinced, this will help with the funding factor as well. Sure, we compete with TV, the cinema and the Internet for audience attention, but they are all different mediums. Those who have experienced it will know that watching a story unfold in front of you – live –  has a certain kind of magic. The very nature of a theatre show, which has to be constantly creative in suspending disbelief with sets, costumes, props and great acting, is always rather magical. Let’s expand the theatre-going audience base.

amelia chen, iskandar zulkarnain, zulkihairi ahmadNext, members of the performing arts scene have to keep looking outward and upwards, and keep researching and watching productions staged all over the world. How? All you need is you. And YouTube! It is extremely foolhardy to think we already know it all, or have seen it all, no excuse not to learn from the world, and the next step is not to copy but to take ideas, run it through our own creative processes, our own creative mills if you will, and see what comes out at the end of it. There’s always room for improvement, always.

Finally, representation. We need to be better represented in theatre and fringe festivals around the world. I spoke to Joe Sidek, Director of the Georgetown Festival recently, and he told me that at the last Edinburgh Fringe, there was but one Thai production representing the whole of South East Asia! Our stories should be told all over the world, and you can bet that, if anything, appreciation of staged arts is even easier to find, especially when the shows are done well.

5) What are your hopes for  2014?

2014 is projected to be extremely awesome for me. I hope to have two of my works staged. One, a mini-musical piece and two, a major original work. Wish me luck!

Shamaine Othmanshamaineothman

 NOAH : A get-together of two best friends ends with the revelation of a name that threatens to tear them

 1) A little history on the you and your past works.

 I have written two short plays for Short + Sweet 2008 and 2009 (Just Married and Wati dan Puan.) I have also written two short films, Love Story (for Ikal Mayang) and Cuak: The Couple, which is part of the Cuak feature movie produced by Garang Pictures.  For TV, I have written comedy sketches for The Disko Baldi Show which aired on 8TV mid-2013.

2) What inspired you to write this particular story?

 I am often inspired by my own life experiences and am currently at this point in my life where most of my friends and i are leading different lifestyles. Basically, being married vs being single. We have obviously grown into different people, with different priorities and sometimes find ourselves on completely different wavelengths. Noah, looks at two best friends who reach a juncture in their friendship that forces them to question their loyalty towards each other.

ameliachen and sitifarrah in noah

3) Whenever you write a play, like this one, what do you hope the audience will get from it?

I just want the audience to enjoy the story and take whatever they want from it.

4) What is your hope for the Malaysian Performing Arts Scene?

My hope is for the scene to get more audiences to shows and to achieve that there needs to be more local original works.

5) What are your hopes for 2014?

Hopefully there will be an influx of more local original works!

 

 

Na’a Muradnaa murad

THE HUNDRED : A hundred-ringgit bill changes hands in benign circumstances but soon finds itself in the dark underbelly of society.

1) A little history on the writer and their past works.

I am trained in film-making, but in the late 80’s I developed an interest in theatre that slowly, surreptitiously, like a peat-fire in Sepang, consumed me. I have never written a full-length play, but used to write skits during Instant Cafe Theatre Company’s halcyon days. Monologues during Dramalab’s halcyon days. And now I have finally inched forward to Short Plays. A full-length play next year, promise.

2) What inspired you to write this particular story?

The structure is from a  film called Winchester ’73 (1950 Anthony Mann) which follows a rifle as it passes from hand to hand. The actual stories are from truth, rumour, imagination and snatched from the aether.

3.Whenever you write a play, like this one, what do you hope the audience will get from it?

a sceneI would like the audience to enjoy every second of the piece. To have their emotions pleasantly manipulated and their imagination massaged.

4.What is your hope for the Malaysian Performing Arts scene?

More original writing. More focus on training of actors, directors and writers. And more patronage from any person/persons and institutions with big bucks.

5.What are your hopes for 2014?

A much, much better year than 2013 in every expect for EVERYONE. For myself personally, a chance to do the two movie IPs I have been flogging since 2011.

Early bird tickets until 18th December 2013 at RM28.

Ticket price at RM38 adults. Play runs from 18th Dec 2013 to 22nd Dec 2013. Call 03 4065 001/002, text 017 3268128 or visit www.dpac.com  for more info.

Showtimes are 8.30pm ,nightly at  Damansara Perdana Performing Arts Center (DPAC)

MIASMA : produced by Liminal Edge and directed by David Lim.

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