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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Malaysian writers pen edgy play

Posted: 19 Dec 2013 12:50 AM PST

Miasma revolves around four stories that share the same pent up emotions.


STEWING is a national past time.

This notion becomes apparent when four Malaysian writers, penning scripts independently of each other, somehow came to a similar theme of pent up passive aggression. The result, Miasma, is being staged at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPac) in Petaling Jaya, Selangor by theatre company Liminal Edge.

Directed by David Lim, the play is adapted from an anthology of original stories by four local talents: Na'a Murad, Maya Tan Abdullah, and new faces Shamaine Othman and Adiwijaya (Iskandar Ismail).

The diverse collection doesn't attempt to be homogenous, instead it celebrates each writer's unique voice. As such, the scripts are multilingual, starting with Shamaine's Noah which is mostly in English, while Adiwijaya's Bapak is performed in northern-accented Malay, Na'a's The Hundred being Manglish to reflect the reality of KL life, and ending with Maya's Dunia Lelaki written entirely in Malay.

"I wanted some Mandarin added to mine too, but we decided not to have too many things going on," says Na'a, during a recent interview. He adds that the play will have surtitles in English and Malay.

Despite having four segments, Miasma, makes use of a relatively compact cast which includes Na'a, Gregory Sze, Iskandar Zulkarnain, Siti Farrah Abdullah, Zukhairi Ahmad, Amelia Chen and Helen Ann Peters.

In the play, Na'a does double duty as both writer and actor, appearing in three of the four segments.

"Rather than put me in drag, the director left Shamaine's piece – which is about two women – in the capable hands of actual actresses," he laughs.

Shamaine reveals that her script Noah tackles the grudging battle between married and unattached people, represented by a pregnant woman arguing with her still-single friend about what to name her soon-to-be-born son. "Having more and more married friends, there's a lot of material to draw from," she admits.

Adiwijaya says his piece Bapak, centres on two siblings and their father who suddenly find themselves in an uncomfortable conversation at an inescapable setting: the family dinner table.

Na'a, who plays the father in Bapak, gleefully adds that the segment's awkwardness would ring uncomfortably close to home for most "typical non-confrontational Asian families."

Maya shares the collection was retroactively titled Miasma after the directors noticed the thread between the stories – all its characters were unable to face issues head on.

Adiwijaya assures that the play is not meant solely to discomfort the audience.

"I like it when a play shows uneasy moments, I believe it gives the audience an idea of how to deal with things in their own life so they don't get stuck in their Miasma," he sums up.

Miasma is on at Black Box, Damansara Performing Arts Centre, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya in Selangor daily till Dec 22. Shows are at 8.30pm, with matinee performances at 3pm on Dec 21 and Dec 22. Tickets: RM38 (adult) and RM28 (student/senior citizen/disabled). Call 03-4065 0001 or 4065 0002 or visit to book tickets.


1 ulasan:

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