This week, local theater group Theatresauce returns to the scene with its first public performance in two years. With a focus on training the next generation of theater directors, The Emerging Directors Lab aims to shape the voices and visions of emerging talent in the KL scene. Until we catch the dawn is a collection of five short plays by five local directors selected as part of the Theatresauce series.
“We were fortunate to be able to spend nearly two years together brainstorming ideas and choosing the short plays for this showcase,” said Kelvin Wong, Creative Director of Theatresauce.
“Theatresauce really showcases the work of directors and with the Emerging Directors Lab we were able to not only teach the theories and principles of theater but also develop the voices and creative visions of these five young artists,” adds -he.
Until we catch the dawn, which plays February 9-13 at Indicine, KLPAC, will feature short plays directed by Dexter Zhen (The Widow Of The Fort Road, written by Alfian Sa’at)Low Lee Choy (Downstream delta, written by Alfian Sa’at), Mia Sabrina Mahadir (Noah, written by Shamaine Othman), Dinesh Kumar (Iridescence, written by Alfian Sa’at) and Dhinesha Kartigesu (Onthakan – The Blue Hour, written by Rajkumar Thiagaras). Each of the directors took a script and adapted it for the stage. Each of them was encouraged to make these stories personal and totally unique but cohesive under a larger theme. A cast of 10 actors will be involved in these plays.
“It was an enriching experience not only to see them develop their skills and know-how during the lessons, but also to see their growth outside of the program. The awareness they had of their own work and the context of the wider KL theater scene in conversations between casual hangouts and breaks deepened our bond. I would say I learned from them as much as they learned from me,” Wong says.
The Klang Valley theater scene has made many changes during the pandemic. Some institutions have closed, while others have gone online to survive. Theatresauce, which had the opportunity to undergo a period of hiatus, the Emerging Directors Lab series marks the first of three upcoming in-person theater showcases this year.
“We are grateful to have lasted into 2020 and 2021 with a new phase, my team and I took nothing for granted every time we performed. Adhering to strict SOPs for everyone’s safety was a priority and treat the privilege of performing on stage as if it could be our last,” says Wong.
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The resilience of young theater creators
Children’s stories are never just for kids, and KLPac’s Theater For Young People (T4YP) set sets out to prove it by giving a classic fairy tale an unexpected and daring panto makeover. The Emperor’s New Clothes or How the Procession Should Continue runs from February 10-13 at Pentas 2, KLPac, and the theatrical series marks the 2021 season finale of T4YP enabled by the Creator Foundation.
Directed by Tung Jit Yang, director-in-residence of The Actors Studio who is also one of the hosts of T4YP and alumnus of the program, this work explores the popular fable of Hans Christian Andersen The Emperor’s New Clothes about the pitfalls of vanity and greed from the perspective of six young family members portrayed by the six members of the T4YP ensemble. He studies the notion of family and society, and how they intersect.
What will we reveal about this family? Inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed, reality TV and the translated text of Jean Hersholt, the public bears witness to the drama and the confrontation between dramaturgies, points of view and stories of these six young people.
“Boal taught us that the theater can not only be, in Shakespeare’s terms, a mirror in which our vices and virtues are reflected, but a ‘magic mirror’ in which the actors, the audience, the playing audience or the spect-actors’ can walk through and in, changing the image before them. By exploring the text in this way, what other stories emerge? What change can happen? said Tung.
“The Emperor’s New Clothes is about a family, and I found it interesting that the father of the child who is telling the truth, is at first embarrassed, and even tries to obscure his own family’s words, or maybe even more because that they were related? Everyone knows that families are some of the most complex relationships we can have,” he adds.
The Emperor’s New Clothes or How the Procession Should Continue will feature a class of young comedians who auditioned in 2020 and persevered through lockdowns and online training since June 2021 to finally graduate.
The show will feature Alethea Chong, an audio technology and music enthusiast who discovered theater while working with Phnom Penh Players in Cambodia; psychology student Amaliyna Helmi; Danniel Iskandar and Eugene Ong who are companies by day and actors by night; the rising talent of triple threat Elene Tang; and finally Nephi Shaine, an aspiring playwright who won the Short+Sweet Theater Best Newcomer award at 16.
Tickets for T4YP’s upcoming showcase, supported by MyCreative Ventures and The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat, can be purchased here.