Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Upcoming theatres for my leisures...

I just got back from climbing the Gunung Angsi yesterday and it was fun yet tiring. So, on 29th and 30th, I will spend some time to watch these two local Malay theatres for relaxation and enjoyment. Mahsuri will be shown tonight at Istana Budaya and Patung Kertas 2 will be shown tomorrow night at Malaysian Tourism Centre (MTC). I'm looking forward to watch these theatres since the early month of April because I'm a big theatre buff. Besides, on the day of EDU3216 (Poetry) exam day, Pn. Juridah gave me an assignment for the Theatre in TESL course next sem that I need to watch a theatre and write a review about it. So, watching these theatres would definitely help me to complete the assignment since in my hometown, there is rarely a theatre being shown. I will post my review of these theatres after I got back to my hometown later. So, I hope my journey for watching these theatres would be smooth and safe. Wish me luck! =]

Monday, April 20, 2009

Aircon ~ A school, A murder, A scandal

Yesterday (19/4), I watched the play 'Aircon' at KLPAC at 3-6 PM. I went there by Metro bus from UPM and stopped at the bus stop nearby the KLPAC entrance. They I walked to the building for like 200 metre. There were dozens of people lining up to claim their tickets and the hall was full-house. I didn't get the chance to watch the play when it was first performed at KLPAC last year but this year, I was really looking forward to watch it after reading all the positive buzzes the media gave towards the play. Thankfully, I managed to buy the last ticket and also got to watch the play clearly from the top seat.

'Aircon' was written by the award-winning singer/playwright, Shanon Shah and was directed by Jo Kukathas dan Zalfian Fuzi. The play, performed in the Malay Kedah dialect (my dialect at kampung) with English language surtitles, revolved around the story of a group of boys at an elite school in Kedah (Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid supposedly). The boys confront sex, violence, bullying, and growing up after a prostitute is found dead on the railway tracks near their school.

I thought the play was very enjoyable and worth-watching. One of the best local plays performed in Malaysian theatre so far, I would say. The script was not too difficult for me to follow. Shanon was an ex-student of KSAH and he gave every characters and situations the enough justice they deserved. He moderately mixed the elements of religion, race and numerous sensitive issues and did not exaggerate them too much. I think he did his job successfully.

Praises should be given to the actors (Aswara students) who managed to give an astonishing performance. They managed to bring the sense of empathy (feel their emotions) inside me when they dealt with the problems that occur in their lives in the play. The actors I like the most were Zahiril Adzim (Burn) and Amerul Affendi (Chep). Zahiril successfully acted the role of Burn, a senior who is friendly and caring towards his gentle juniors, unlike Chep, the best friend of Burn and the head prefect, who has a family problem (his father wants to marry another woman) and at the same time adores Burn.. =P If you watch the play, and then you would know why Chep kills the 'maknyah' at the railway station and his junior, William - it's all because of jealousy and the lack of love he gets from his family.

Apart from Zahiril and Amerul, the other actors also made me laughed really hard. Hazarul Hasnain & Firdaus Che Yahaya (Mona & Mimi), gave great yet humorous performance as the juniors who have to involve in the scandal and at the same time help to develop the plot of the play. They were also the characters who performed the most '18SX' scenes..hehe.. =P

To conclude, I like the play a lot. The actors delivered their finest performance and the storyline was truly heart-rending. Those who also watched the play would definitely agree with me. 'Aircon' is a play for matured audiences because of the obscene language used but then it could instill rather good moral values inside us. I hope they could re-perform the play next year at the the same venue because watching only once was not enough for me. If they want to perform it again, I hope they would stick to Pentas 2, KLPAC because changing the venue would make the play loses its genuineness due to the 'karenah birokrasi'. 10/10 from me. =)

Some snaps from the play :

Me & Shanon Shah

Monday, April 13, 2009


On 10th April, I had to submit the final draft of my play entitled Brotherhood to my tutor, Miss Kasthoori. The final draft is nothing different that the 1st and 2nd draft because I only edited the stage directions and nothing much. When I was told that I need to write a 15 minutes drama script during the first class with Dr. Edwin, I was kind of worried because I had never attempted to write a script before and I’m lousy at writing. But after I read the drama scripts we need to read and analyse in this course such as The Ring Doesn’t Fit, The Ring, and Selfish Mr. Pederson, I felt excited to write my own drama script which I think should be fun and enjoyable for my lesson. When Dr. Edwin asked us to write a 15 minutes drama script (one-act play) for mature secondary level students and involve not more than 5 characters, I had difficulties thinking of the storyline, setting, and characters because I thought a play would be more interesting if there are that 5 characters. After like a week of generating ideas on what my play would be about, I came up with the idea of writing a play about siblings’ rivalry and I titled it Brotherhood. I didn’t have a partner to assist me so I had to produce it all by myself.

This 15 minutes play revolves around the story of two young brothers named Jamal and Jamil, whose relationship is good at the beginning but then turns out to be clashing when their father, Johan, dies due to a car accident. The conflict between the siblings occurs when they quarrel over their father’s will. At the end, the brothers realize that their rivalry should not have happened because they are brothers and they need to rely on each others to continue their lives. The reason I came up with this story for my play is because the characters are in their early 20’s and students may find it enjoyable and they can actually feel empathy towards the characters. Apart from that, the storyline is also relevant to the current situation in our society today when most siblings have the tendency of quarrelling with each others to attain their parents’ possessions when their parents passed away.

I think students would not find the play boring because the plot is simple and the script is lucid. If I were given the chance to teach this play in my lesson, I would be looking forward to do so because there are many moral values that I can instill into my students from this play such as the importance of sibling relationship and the need to avoid greediness. As a conclusion, writing a drama script serves as an enjoyable experience to me because it allows me to be a creative writer. I’m looking forward to write a few more drama scripts during the semester break and hope to have my own collection of drama scripts. Wish me luck~! =)

EDU3217 : Learning the Essence of Theatre

What I Have Learned

I have learned about drama since I was in Form 4 but they were in the Malay Language. I could still remember a few Malay dramas that I’ve learned in Form 4 and 5 in the Literature Component class such as Serunai Malam, Puteri Li Po, Titik-Titik Perjuangan and Kerusi. Then, when I pursued the Form 6, I got to learn about Malay dramas again in my Malay Literature class such as Lawyer Dahlan and ….. I really enjoyed learning dramas during my school time because the lessons were really enjoyable that I had learned a lot about the aspects of theatre. Then, this semester I was really thrilled to continue my enthusiasm in learning about dramas because I got to learn about Greek, Shakespearean, and 20th Century theatre. I have gained a lot of knowledge about the world of theatre during Dr Edwin’s lectures and Miss Kasthoori’s tutorials. Beforehand, I had zero knowledge about Greek, Shakespearean and 20th century theatre and taking this course has broadened my mind into the world of theatre. I had learned about the development of theatre which started from Greek Theatre > Roman Theatre > Medieval Theatre > Restoration Theatre > 18th-19th Theatre and lastly the 20th Century Theatre. Besides, I also learned that theatre involves various genres such as Tragedy, Comedy, Tragicomedy and Farce.

Enough with the history of theatre, Dr. Edwin’s lectures also let me expanding my knowledge about the conventions in theatre such as the text, acts, scenes, actors, the passing of time, flashback, language (verse or prose), speech and other conventions such as the aside, the chorus, disguise, as well as turns in dramatic conversation such as proposing, building, disagreeing, defending, blocking, and summarizing. While in Miss Kasthoori’s tutorials, I had the chance to act out a play with my course mates. I couldn’t forget the first tutorial that I had to act out the play Bingo by Edward Bond with my course mates. She divided us into groups and we discussed about how we should act the roles out to make the play enjoyable to students. The tutorial was indeed an enjoyable one because we learned that a play can be performed in many ways. Apart from that, the group work activity also enabled us to generate creative ideas to make our performance enjoyable and made us appreciated the essence of theatre more than before. Thank a bunch Dr. Edwin and Miss Kasthoori!

The Aspects of Lectures/Tutorials That are Useful


My Area of Study

The first aspect that I found really useful to my area of studying theatre learning that theatre itself is a unique form a literature. Many people find theatre as boring and irrelevant especially in this millennium because of the existence of cinema and home theatre but I think theatre is also a medium of entertainment especially for those people who appreciate arts. So, I think the uniqueness of theatre is something I need to share with my future students so that they would not find drama class as boring. Drama is written to be performed and it has script, dialogue (monologue, soliloquy, aside), stage directions, character parts, acts & scenes, and costumes. Drama concerns the script to the performance while theatre concerns the performance of the script. The second aspect that is useful to my area of study is learning about criterias of a good play. Learning about the criterias of a good play is important because I need to choose a suitable drama for my lesson. Students would find my lesson boring if the drama I chose doesn’t make them think, question them what will happen, and provoke them to use their minds. To make my lesson more enjoyable, I need to select a drama that satisfies the intellect, shows organization and ideational content, concerns human experience, has economy, novelty, impact, and can grip the audience.

Interpret the Content Differently

The lectures and tutorials I have attended for 14 weeks have given me better understanding and clearer picture of theatre so I would not interpret them differently but stick to the interpretations from Dr. Edwin and Miss Kasthoori. Before I took this course, I have little knowledge about the origins of theatre and the important aspects in theatre but through the lectures and tutorials, I gained more knowledge and they helped me to build my own understanding through their interpretation of the plays. Dr. Edwin’s lectures have helped me to understand the plays better through his explanations even though some of the books provide notes to make us understand the language better but his explanations gave clearer pictures of what the plays are all about. His explanations from scene to scene helped me to understand the meanings better and made this course even more enjoyable. As for Miss Kasthoori’s tutorials, I think her teachings were interesting.

The group discussions we had during the tutorials also helped me to get more ideas about certain plays and made me understand the plays better. Learning about theatre in this course was indeed challenging because of the language used in the plays and the length of the plays but at the same time it was enjoyable with the help and guidance from Dr. Edwin and Miss Kasthoori.

Adopt and Adapt the Skills I have Learned


My Future Lesson

I have learned about the criterias of a good play in Dr. Edwin’s classes and Miss Kasthoori’s tutorials and it helped me to develop the skills of choosing a good play for my lesson. So, I think I would adopt the skill in my future lesson of teaching drama. To teach drama, I can use the skill of choosing good plays to choose a play which is interesting and attractive. In other words, it helps me to choose a play that students would find it enjoyable to read again and again. This is very important to avoid students to feel bored when they need to analyse it for many times in my lesson. Besides, the learning process will slack down once students stop reading or even refuse to look at it again. So, I think this skill is beneficial and adopting this skill is not hard with practices and lots of reading. Choosing a play is one thing but choosing a suitable play is another. Finding a suitable play for my students is essential. This is one skill that I need to adapt. In choosing a play, I would choose plays that are suitable to students’ level of proficiency, level of understanding and world knowledge and their interests. So, I think I would be able to adopt and adapt the skills of choosing a good play for my future lesson and the skills will be very useful for teaching drama in ESL.

Questions After Lectures/Tutorials

The lectures and tutorials for this course have ended and I have gained more knowledge about theatre tha before. So, I think there are no major questions after the lectures and tutorials since Dr. Edwin and Miss Kasthoori are both informative and knowledgeable about theatre. I think the only question left is: how to improve my interpretation of any literary work? In any literary works, we need to interpret the meaning as this is an important aspect after all. Only through the meaning we can get the message or the theme. I think in order to resolve this; group discussions and further researches need to be done. Through group discussions, I can get other people’s ideas and interpretation. Therefore, I can build my own interpretation as well. Everyone has their ideas and views and by exchanging ideas and views, I can improve my interpretation better. Another way is through research. Finding more information about a play or drama through the World Wide Web and books can improve my interpretation and it is a form of input as well. It is the most effective way for me to gain my knowledge about a play and appreciate it more.

A Moment Like This

On 30th March, I had the moment of truth- meeting the renowned writer, Mr. Kee Thuan Chye. I was really looking forward to meet him after I’ve learned his play entitled The Swordfish, and the Concubine. Apart from that, I’ve also heard good things about him as a writer and that made me even more eager to meet him face to face and share his experiences. Even though the meeting slot was held for about 2 hours only, but then I really enjoyed listening to his wonderful yet funny speech and his speech gave great impact on me as a literature student/lover.

He started off his speech by telling us his family background. He was born in a rather poor family in Penang. He went to school bringing only a few cents. But the funny part is, he said he managed to get in love with his female schoolmate who was older than him. That was really funny. He strived hard during schooling and managed to pursue a degree of journalism at Universiti Malaya. He also shared his experience of having an argument with the VC for doing something fallacy which actually he didn’t do. I feel sorry for him. Then, he was offered to work as a writer in a local newspaper, released a few articles, but then had to quit when the publisher gone bankrupt. Then he continued his dream of being a writer and successfully released great stage plays such as Oh, But I Don’t Want to Go, Oh, But I Have To, Eyeballs, Leper and a Very Dead Spider, We Could **** You, Mr Birch, 1984 Here and Now, The Big Purge and the latest one, The Swordfish, Then the Concubine. Later in his speech, he talked about the current turmoil in the local politics in Malaysia. His point of view on local politics really changed my view on how I perceive politics and I really respect him for that. Actually, politics is not my cup of coffee but after listening to his speech, I think I need to pay a serious attention towards politics so that I can be a true Malaysian just like him. The Q&A session was also meaningful when a few of my twinning TESLians asked him questions about politics and his experiences as a playwright and actor. His judgments really gave me a lot of insight and changed the way I see and perceive the world of politics and theatre. He also didn’t forget to inform us about his upcoming appearances in local TV and cinema. Lastly, he talked about his play, The Swordfish, Then the Concubine. We were surprised when he told that he revised the play numerous times and now he’s in the process of finishing the newest version. We asked a few questions regarding the play and it was amazing to hear the answers from the writer himself.

I think Kee Thuan Chye is a great writer and those who want to be a successful writer should have him as their role model for his great determination and courage. His talent and way of thinking is astonishing and I hope he will be more successful in the future. I would like to thank Dr. Edwin for the effort of bringing him to UPM to share his experiences with us. My 2 hours spent with him was really worthy and delightful. A moment like this would remain unforgettable in my mind now and forever. Thank you to both of you!

A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the few plays I need to read and analyse in this course. Being able to watch the adapted version of this play was an essential moment for me because the film made me understand the chronology of the play better. In my opinion, Elia Kazan's adapatation of this play is truly the best and unbeatable. Firstly, considering when it was made, it remains a key film in the development of American cinema; a film that is powerful, intelligent, moving, adult and compassionate. Because of the miraculous qualities of the film, it preserves forever as what I consider to be one of the greatest adaptations of a play ever.

Blanche is horrified by the lower class living conditions she sees and by the crassness of Stanley. She herself is at the end of a series of come-downs. She speaks of having lost the family home, "Belle Reve," as if it were Tara, but she lives in such a fantasy world that I never had a good picture of what "Belle Reve" was really like. Not only had Blanche lost the family home, but she had been removed from her teaching job due to acts of moral turpitude. By the time she winds up on Stella and Stanley's doorstep she is desperate. The scene where Stanley and Blanche first meet is wonderfully subtle, and it sets up one of the basic tensions running throughout. Stanley's reaction is definitely more than, "Hi, so you're Stella's sister, glad to meet you." With just a few facial expressions, Brando gives that little extra something that says, "Well, here is a different bird, something that could make things interesting." And Vivien Leigh subtly tips off Blanche's immediate reaction to the undeniable sexual presence of Stanley. Poor Stella is caught between Blanche, who is urging her to better herself by getting away from her degraded life, and Stanley, whose baby she is carrying.

The acting in this movie was simply amazing. Vivien Leigh put on one of the best performances I have ever seen. She may have been a classical actress but I still think she did better than most of the method actors in the film right alongside her even though they did awesome as well. Some critics complain about Marlon's performance but I think he did a great job. He really captured Stanley's dirt and grittiness to perfection. I seriously think this is in his top 3 performances obviously following On the Waterfront and The Godfather. I also thought Karl Malden (Mitch) was endearing that his words lines really captured my heart. I wish he was in more movies though, so far I've only seen him in the other Brando movie mentioned about and Patton which he did extremely well in too.
This is not a happy film but it is a film people need to see to understand that a person's downfall is not the sole responsibility of that one person. Many people and events trigger it. As Blanche says, "death...and the opposite is desire" Death and desire; two of the most starkly represented elements of A Streetcar Named Desire. 9/10 from me.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

King Lear

On 17 & 24th of March, my course mates and I watched Michael Elliott's rendition of the famous Shakespear's play, 'King Lear' which was shown on the US local television in 1983. The casts involved in the movie are the legendary British actor, Sir Lawrence Olivier and other magnificent British actors such as John Hurt, Colin Blakely & Jeremy Kemp. Elliot's version of King Lear was made for television, and it shows. The scale is small, the sets are cheap, the action cramped. However, Olivier's acting is something to be remembered. King Lear comes across very convincingly as a pathetic, deteriorating, crumbling old man, weak and defenseless in spite of an unseen past of terrible power and - presumably - ferocious cruelty. Kurosawa's Japanese adaptation plays much more on the terrible past of Lear as counterpoint to the present weakness and madness, this English version leaves the lost power and cruelty only as a hazy background. If this is a defect of Olivier's acting, or whether it faithfully reflects his views on the character, I do not know. But I think Olivier did exactly what he wanted to do, focus on the old Lear, his weakness and his fading away, as a symbol of human nature in general, and of his own advanced age in particular. In the final scenes, Lear appears shaven off his beard, showing the naked face of a very ancient man, not the face of an actor at all. There must be a reflection of Olivier's own becoming old and brittle and approaching death, on the deterioration and dying of Lear. And there is the weakest glimmer of hope, both for the character and for the actor, as dying Lear recovers lost love in the midst of destruction. Of the rest of the cast, the best characters in my opinion are Goneril and Regan, perhaps a little overplayed but very convincingly so, as the cold-hearted, scheming sisters. The Fool and Poor Tom somehow are not quite convincing. Gloucester is moving but a little dumb. Kent is handsome and masculine. Cordelia is pretty. The score has justly been criticized as noisy and intrusive. Staging is not always clear enough for comprehension of the plot. All in all, this movie is well worth seeing. Perhaps there are better interpretations of Lear, perhaps more adjusted to Shakespeare's vision; however, this version has enough merit so as to stand by itself. And Lawrence Olivier remains the quintessential Shakespearean actor of all time. 8/10 from me. =)