Jumaat, 27 Disember 2013

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

New Museum invites public to paint gallery space

Posted: 26 Dec 2013 10:20 PM PST

Visitors can paint or draw all over the gallery to their hearts' content.

Wannabe artists will get the chance to leave their mark on New York's contemporary art venue the New Museum in 2014, with the opening of an interactive exhibition.

The Manhattan art space will present the first ever US exhibition dedicated to Polish sculptor Pawel Althamer, and the show will include a blank gallery space which visitors can paint or draw all over to their hearts' content.

Pawel Althamer: The Neighbors will also feature a series of live sculptural workshops in which the artist and his collaborators will create new pieces, in order to further blur the boundaries between public and official space.

Althamer plans to interact even further with visitors and his surrounding environment by arranging for street musicians to play outside the museum throughout the exhibition and broadcasting their music throughout the third-floor gallery.

The Polish artist's most recent body of work, the Venetians, a sculpture series created for the 55th Venice Biennale, will make its US debut.

The work saw Althamer cast the faces of various individuals he encountered on the streets of the Italian city.

His videos, So-Called Waves And Other Phenomena Of The Mind, in which he explores the depths of his mind through drug use, and his work Draftsmen's Congress, originally presented at the 7th Berlin Biennale in 2012, will also be on show.

The exhibition is being held in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

Pawel Althamer: The Neighbors will run from Feb 12 to April 13, 2014. For more information head to www.newmuseum.org. — AFP Relaxnews

Sleepless malice

Posted: 24 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

David Lim's Miasma deals with deadly secrets that can hide in the most ordinary lives, and the consequences of unravelling them.

SECRETS. All of us have them. Some are shared, some are forgotten, and some lie dangerously hidden, like sleepless malice, awaiting their time to come forth. It is these secrets that daunt us in our waking hours and haunt us in our sleep. There is no telling when they will come to light.

And it is this unravelling that most of us dread. What if someone finds out our deepest and darkest secrets? What if this demon that has been locked away decides to break free from its chains and wreak havoc?

This is the preoccupation of the many characters of Miasma, a collection of four short plays presented by Luminal Edge. Not in any way connected to each other (a commonplace practice by many Malaysian theatre productions), the four stories take a voyeuristic look at the lives of two best friends, a father and his two children, a son and his mother, and a host of other characters and the secrets that they live with.

Directed by David Lim, of God Of Carnage and Boom fame, the four plays were written by newcomers Shamaine Othman and Adiwijaya (whose real name is Iskandar Ismail) and veterans Na'a Murad and Maya Tan Abdullah, and were staged at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Of the four, the one that struck a chord with this writer was Bapak by Adiwijaya. The story tackled the relationship between an older sister and her brother and their relationship with their father. It began with the brother wanting to confront someone for his transgressions only to be discouraged by his sister, who insists this person has repented and changed. The siblings then have a meal with their father but what should have been normal dinner conversation takes a dramatic turn when the brother confronts his father about molesting his sister.

Tensions flare up and accusation after accusation are shot like fiery arrows. In all of this, the father tries to calmly reason his way out while the sister denies having ever said such a thing to her brother. The play ends with the sister insisting that she will remain behind to look after their father and imploring the brother to leave them alone.

LEAD PIX: Siti Farrah Abdullah brilliantly evoked the silent trauma of sexual abuse in Bapak. -- Photos by RAYMOND OOI/The Star

Tormented soul: Siti Farrah Abdullah brilliantly evoked the silent trauma of sexual abuse in Bapak. – Photos by RAYMOND OOI/The Star

Playing the character of the sister with conviction, vulnerability and a silent anguish is Siti Farrah Abdullah. This role could very easily have been overplayed and unnecessarily dramatised but Siti Farrah lent gravitas to her character, at once making the sister believable and accessible to the audience.

Siti Farrah also shone in her ability to portray the silent and internal torment of her character, especially when the brother details the horror of how their father raped her in the nights after their mother's death. She just sat there, quietly, witnessing the whole account and one can see her body waxing with the weight of truth.

Another actor who should be lauded is Zukhairi Ahmad, who was not only a delight to watch as the brother but also as Nazim in Maya Tan Abdullah's Dunia Lelaki, in which he plays a conflicted young man who is faced with the pressures of living up to his mother's expectations. Funny and charming, Zukhairi made his characters likable.

The production took a minimalistic approach to staging, using simple props only when necessary. But what gave Miasma that intimate feel was the set design by Freddy Tan. All three sides of the stage were draped in black cloth, making the scenes look that much more private. The long, entwined strips of black cloth seemed like metaphors for the twisted secrets that entangled the characters, and when the characters exited, it looked like they were swallowed by the darkness.

Miasma did have its share of shortcomings. For one, the last two plays were slightly confusing, especially Hundred (written by Na'a), which follows the trail of a hundred ringgit note. Since some actors played more than one character and the play stretched for what felt like a long time (though each play was supposedly 20 minutes long), I wondered if the same character progressed with the passage of time.

Furthermore, Amelia Chen failed to convey the dangerously jealous character of Nora in Noah (written by Shamaine), a simple, dark comedy about Nora who accuses Linda, her pregnant best friend, of stealing the name Noah for her soon-to-be-born son. Chen seemed too calm and nonchalant when confronting Linda, even after her water breaks because of the confrontation. There was no drive to her character and her acting was only passable.

Nonetheless, Miasma had all the right elements to form an engaging and truthful play that handled heavy yet close-to-the-heart topics without any pretensions.

Yuletide swing

Posted: 19 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

The choir of The Philharmonic Society of Selangor returns to stage for a bilingual Christmas concert.

IT'S that time of the year again where we reflect, rejoice and make merry. So why not put on your best voice and sing along with The Philharmonic Society of Selangor to cap the year?

The community choir last staged a Christmas production almost a decade ago, but come this weekend, the Damansara Performing Arts Centre in Petaling Jaya, Selangor will be filled with enthusiastic voices in Songs For The Season.

The choir will present a concert of seasonal delights from traditional music to contemporary crowd favourites.

From Vivaldi's soaring Gloria to the seasonal chestnut Winter Wonderland, this year's repertoire will feature an imaginative mix of Christmas carols in English and Kristang.

Kristang, which is a creole language and classified as endangered by Unesco, is mostly spoken by the Kristang community (mixed Portuguese and Asian ancestry) in Malacca.


Cheryl Teh

As Kristang is rarely heard in performances such as these, this bilingual concert is a rare treat.

"Most people enjoy singing and this time around we've made it very casual. There will be lots of audience interaction because we want them to be part of the show and get into the festive mood.

For some of the songs, we will have a screen with the lyrics on it so the audience can sing along. We'd like to expose people to many different songs," says Cheryl Teh, the society's chairman and choir director.

Members, ranging in age from 10 to 81, have been rehearsing since August to get their act together.

This community choir is made up of youngsters, stroke victims, cancer survivors and senior citizens.

Last weekend, the choir had to attend a "boot camp" to ensure all the technicalities were ironed out. It was song, and a little dance, all the way! Indeed, to add zing to the choir, dance steps and easy movements have been incorporated, making it a little more stimulating for the singers.

"The 10-year-old singer (choir member) has 55 grandmothers to dote on her!" laughs Teh.

"Because we are a community choir where anyone can join in without auditioning, I have to keep the songs simple.

"A lot of them do not know how to read notes so that's a challenge and yes, they sometimes grumble that the songs are hard but I don't pull back. In my song selection, I try to be sensitive to all races and religions."

For a number of the members, this is their first show and they are clearly excited.

Teh, who has helmed the choir since 2009, says, "Singing is an outlet for stress release. It also gives the retirees, especially the empty nesters a good chance to spend time with fellow members, make new friends and learn to be tolerant of others.

"Our society doesn't have many activities for seniors, so they tend to sit at home and while their time away. If they're not babysitting their grandkids, they may become depressed. Normally they would be watching their grandkids perform, but this time it's the other way around.

"The choir is one way for them to do something fun and my way of giving back to society. We're all volunteers but we want to build a community in harmony."

The self-funded choir received a grant from Kakiseni this year, enabling it to have added resources. There will be five shows over two days, each lasting just over an hour. Teh will be accompanied by pianist Nish Tham. So, bring your family and enjoy the concert.

"Don't forget, singing also keeps you young!" says Teh.

Songs For The Season is on Dec 21 (2.30pm, 5pm and 8.30pm) and Dec 22 (2.30pm and 5pm) at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre, Empire Damansara, Jalan PJU 8/8, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tickets cost RM23 and can be purchased online at www.dpac.com.my or by calling 03-4065 0001.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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