Kakiseni Blog

A foot in the Malaysian arts scene!

In memory of a Sudden Death.

Posted on 22 September 2014

Sudden Death

This is the flyer for Sudden Death, a participatory performance in memory of Teoh Beng Hock.

The Instructions:

1. Light a candle for Teoh Beng Hock.

2. Lie on the ground, on your right side.

3. Position left leg 90 degrees away from torso. Right leg should be pointed 45 degrees from your left leg.

4. Position both arms 45 degrees from hip.

5. Don’t cry. Don’t emo. Don’t ‘improvise’. Just stay still until candle burns out, and pay respect.

Sudden Death was directed by Mark Teh, and performed numerous times in 2009, the year of political aide Teoh Beng Hock’s death. It was first performed in Findars, 6 Aug 2009, as part of the final Improv Lab @ Findars’ Space. It was also performed at Pekan Frinjan 5.0, organised by Frinjan, in Dataran Shah Alam in 7 Nov 2009 — not too far away from the MACC building.

Following that, Sudden Death was included as one of the 7-part theatre piece DELUSIONS 惑 KHAYALAN: The Year In A Word 今年一字 Setahun Dalam Kata, produced by Pentas Project,  which took place in Annexe Central Market, 17–20 December 2009. The Annexe performance also included a projection of Teoh Beng Hock’s silhouette by Bryan Chang, which the participants could lie down beside.

Sudden Death

From the Sudden Death performance at Annexe, Central Market (picture courtesy of Mark Teh)

In this performance, Mark Teh was highlighting his concern over the deaths of many individuals in custody from 2003–2009, and noted that through the politicking and media spin, Teoh had become an abstract concept to Malaysians. Teoh was not the first to die in police custody, although as the first ‘political death’, he became a symbol of the power abuse all Malaysians could be subject to from the authorities.

In January 2011, a coroner’s inquest will rule that Teoh’s death was neither homicide or suicide. In July 2011, the Royal Commission of Inquiry then officially attributed the death to suicide, though many doubts lingered over the case.

Recently, on 5 September 2014, the Court of Appeal set aside the coroner’s open verdict in the inquest, and unanimously ruled the death was caused by multiple injuries from the fall, a result accelerated by an unlawful act or acts of persons unknown — inclusive of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers who were involved in his arrest and investigation. [Click for more info]

The flyer in this picture above was taken from the Annexe performance. Mark Teh is (to gloriously simplify) a part of arts collective Five Arts Centre. You can follow his personal updates on Twitter at @whoismarkteh.

On 5 Oct, those in Johor will be able to enjoy Five Arts Centre’s production of Gostan Forward (performed by Marion D’Cruz and directed by Mark Teh) in JB Arts Festival.

#Fast, Cooler Lumpur Festival of Ideas

Posted on 20 June 2014

Website : Website listings


Southeast Asia’s first festival of ideas, the Cooler Lumpur Festival, returns to Publika this weekend with the theme #Fast. Established in 2013, the festival aims to provide audience members with great discussions and dialogue. If you believe in the power of a good idea, this is the festival for you.

This is our selection of events from the festival for you, dear reader:

Friday, 20 June

#Fast Talks: Opening Keynote – F**** Censorship! by Miguel Syjuco, 830-930pm

This years #Fast Talks Lecture series at the Cooler Lumpur Festival will be opened by distinguished Filipino writer Miguel Syjuco who represents the bright future of Asian literary talent. Beginning a series of lectures by distinguished guests, with the ever present and timely topic of censorship and its constraints.

Saturday, 21 June

The Modern Malay Tongue, 12:30–1:30pm

How has Bahasa Malaysia in its written form changed over the years? From the rigid, strict, sanctioned, to the slang filled, rojak-ed hybrid we experience today, this panel will explore the evolution of the Malay language into the 21st century. It will ask whether or not in there is still room for an institutionalised tongue in this modern age?

Panelists: A. Samad Said, Uthaya Sankar SB, Nadia Khan
Moderated by Ahmad Fuad Rahmat

We’re all Beige: New Ideas in Cultural Identity, 5–6pm

We are cultural consumers. We are exposed to a glut of popular content that isn’t bound by geography, or language, or ideology. We adapt and adopt these ideas freely. So much so that our new cultural identity is something of a mishmash of global proportions. What does this mean for our notions of self? What does it mean for conventional notions of nationality?

Panelists: Miguel Syjuco, Adam Foulds, Eka Kurniawan
Moderated by Marion D’Cruz

#FAST Films: Early Indies 2 (Page 2), 8:30–9:30pm

A selection of Malaysian shorts from 2000-2005, the pathbreaking years of local independent digital filmmaking. Curated by Imri Nasution. Join us for a walk down memory lane, through the beginnings of a new century in Malaysia, when a wave of young filmmakers & alternative stories emerged. These films, all made before the age of YouTube, capture how #FAST the urban Malaysian landscape has changed.


  1. ‘Me, My Mother & Mosquito’ by Shan (2001 / 7 mins).
  2. ‘Classrooms’ by Ho Yuhang (2003 / 6 mins).
  3. ‘Flower’ by Liew Seng Tat (2005 / 19 mins).
  4. ‘Ada Bola’ by JImmy Choong (2004 / 8 mins).
  5. ‘Majidee’, by Azharr Rudin (2005 / 15 mins).

Total running time: 55 mins.

Bump in the Night, 11:59pm

Once upon a midnight dreary…Bump in the Night is back to spook and excite audiences at The Cooler Lumpur Festival. Come join us at midnight and be scared silly by a series of horror stories performed by some of the best voices Malaysia has to offer.

Note: Persons under 18 are not recommended to attend.
Storytellers: Kamini Ramachandran, Susan Lankester, Patrick Teoh

Sunday, 22 June

Lost and Found in Translation, 11am-12pm

How important is translation in broadening our horizons, in opening our minds to other lives and other worlds? Join the panel as they discuss whether translation can be the key to unity in the multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-coloured, multi-everything societies we live in. Will it help us better understand ourselves and those around us?

Panelists: Dr Sarah Meisch, Zhang Su Li, Pauline Fan
Moderated by Eddin Khoo

Nay Phone Latt in conversation with Sharaad Kuttan, 4:30–5:30pm

Sharaad Kuttan, radio producer and presenter with BFM89.9 will host Nay Phone Latt the Burmese blogger and activist who was a recipient of PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in 2010. From 2008 to 2012, he was detained at Hpa-An Prison due to his alleged involvement in spreading news during 2007 Burmese anti-government protests using his blogs. He was also listed as a political prisoner by Assistance Association for Political Prisoners of Burma. Join us as he talks about his fascinating story.

Reimagining Malaysian Cinema, 6–7pm

We’re making and releasing more movies than ever before. But are they any good? We’re setting ourselves up to be the Vancouver of South East Asia. But do we have the chops? An open and honest, down and dirty discussion on the future of Malaysian cinema.

Panelists: Hassan Abd Muthalib, Low Ngai Yuen, Tengku Iesta Tengku Alaudin
Moderated by Johanan Sen

The events listed are available for free, so no tickets are required. Enjoy, and we hope you find inspiration for your next great idea from this festival.

Disclaimer: Panellist for Reimagining Malaysian Cinema, Low Ngai Yuen, is the head of our parent company Kakiseni

PJ Laugh Fest

Posted on 15 May 2014

Website : PJ Live Arts

Twitter : @PJLiveArts


The PJ Laugh Fest is Asia’s biggest annual comedy festival, and it officially kicks off today with an eclectic range of comedy shows for the next fortnight. These are the shows we recommend:


Faulty Towers — The Dining Experience

14 May–1 June, 7:30PM (and additional 12:30pm show on weekends); RM185 (Dinner), RM165 (Lunch).


Fans of the beloved British comedy series Fawlty Towers will get the best of its gags and a wonderful 3-course meal, served by the neurotic Basil, domineering Sybil and language-challenged Manuel (characters made famous by John Cleese, Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs). Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong — so make sure you come for the food, stay for the laughs, and let Faulty Towers serve you the best of both. If they can.

Shear Madness

28 May–14 June, 8:30PM; RM50, RM65, RM80


This is the Malaysian adaptation of the world’s longest-running comedy play, and takes the form of a mystery murder in a unisex hair salon. Isabel Fernandez, landlady and former world-famous pianist, is murdered with a set of beautician shears — and everyone is a suspect! Can you guess whodunit?

Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones

24–26 May, 2PM; RM40, RM125 (4 Tickets),


The most family-friendly of all your options, Jeff Achtem is a contemporary light and shadow puppetry artist. This award-winning, wordless, shadow puppet comedy transforms household junk into surreal shadow puppets featuring flying chickens, brain transplants and sneaky ninjas! Very clever, and delightful for all-ages.


Awek Chuck Taylor

24–25 May, 3pm & 8:30PM; RM30 & RM40


Those who did not manage to catch the workshop performance earlier this year should definitely get their tickets early for this. Based on Nami Cob Nobbler’s best-seller novel, a romantic comedy about dating, flirting and love. Mature audiences recommended. Note: Show is performed in Malay without subtitles.

Making S#it Up Comedy

21–22 May, 8:30PM; RM68 (VIP), RM58 (Premium), RM43 (Economy)


It’s an all-star, all-male, standup comedy line-up as Harith Iskander takes to the stage with Jit Murad, Phoon Chi Ho, Douglas Lim, Kuah Jenhan and more. Expect comedy sketches, improv and laughter aplenty.

For full listings of shows, click here. Discounts are available for LIVE Cardholders.

KL International Jazz & Arts Festival 2014

Posted on 2 May 2014

KL Intl Jazz : Website

Date : 17–18 May 2014

YouTube : select 2013 performances

Venue : University of Malaya

The KL International Jazz & Arts Festival returns this year with yet another noteworthy lineup — expect performances by acclaimed international jazz stars and the best local talents.

The highlight of the festival will be pianist/vocalist Diane Schuur, a longtime disciple of Dinah Washington and other legendary jazz singers of the ’40s and ’50s. Schuur has racked up two Grammy awards and three Grammy nominations in a recording career spanning nearly three decades.

Also of note amongst the international artists are critically-acclaimed jazz pianist Keiko Matsui, and Grammy-nominated recording artist John Beasley.

Malaysian artists performing include Jordan Rivers Band, Rachel Guerzo and Bassment Syndicate.

festivalflyer1 festivalflyer1b


Posted on 16 April 2014

THE SEA IS OURS is an anthology of Southeast Asian steampunk. We are looking for steampunk stories that are set in Southeast Asia, or secondary worlds that evoke Southeast Asia, with Southeast Asian protagonists, in any of the countries that make up the region: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, East Timor, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. We are looking historically and technologically-innovative stories.

Steampunk, for the purposes of this anthology, is defined as an aesthetic that combines technofantasy, anachronism, retro-futurism, an alternate history / world, and the evocation of an incipient industrial revolution. How does the steampunk aesthetic look, feel, sound, smell, or taste like in these regions? What kind of technologies would grow in resource-rich SEAsia?

What do our historical figures, our Parameswaras, Trung sisters, Lapu-Lapus, do in such a world? Submissions are encouraged to explore various levels and kinds of technologies, not just steam technology. Locals myths can also find their way into these stories; what does the mix of technology and fantasy look like in such worlds? Explore all kinds of stories: from the extraordinary to the everyday. What changes does accelerated technology create for the local landscape and societies? Choose historical events and give them a steampunk twist: how do their outcomes change, or stay the same?

Formatting Guidelines:

  • Send all submissions and queries to sea.steampunk@gmail.com in RTF, DOC, or DOCX.
  • Submissions should have SEA-STEAM: [story title] in the subject line.
  • Please do not attach a cover letter; cover letters are the text of your email.
  • Wordcount: between 2,500 – 9000 words long.
  • Fonts: size 12; Courier or Times New Roman.
  • No cover page; name, email address and wordcount on the first page; name/story title/page in headers. Please see Standard Manuscript Formatting.
  • Submissions close June 30, 2014.
  • We will contact all submitters within four weeks of submissions closing.

General guidelines:

  • Stories should have a visible development arc, even if they are somewhat experimental.
  • Stories should be in English, but we take a broad view of English, which includes dialect, accents, local slang, and non-English words that express nuances that standard English can’t.
  • Characters should be embedded in their settings. we should not be able to transplant the specifics of their story easily, even if they are based on common science fiction / fantasy archetypes.
  • Local takes on actual historical events are highly encouraged, although not necessary in alternate world settings. If we don’t know the event you’re writing about, we’ll Wiki or you can tell us all about it in your submission email.
  • Stories featuring queer characters, characters with disabilities, non-normative relationships and other such non-mainstream narratives are welcome.


How much are you paying?

5c/word for an original story; 1/c for a reprint.

Do these stories HAVE to be in SEAsia?

No. Secondary worlds evoking SEAsia are cool and exciting.

Can I write a story about SEAsians in other countries?

Yes, but we may not be as interested in a story about a SEAsian in, say, Britain, featuring Eurocentric steampunk technofantasy that we can find elsewhere. Query and we’ll see.

Can I write a story about not-SEAsians in SEAsia?

Maybe. We’re not interested in colonial narratives, but we’d be intrigued with a story of non-SEAsian traders dealing with SEAsians. Query and we’ll see.

Can I see previous examples of / resources for SEAsian steampunk?

Yes, here is a list of SEAsian steampunk stories and resources (not all available online though!):

  • The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho, Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories
  • “On Wooden Wings” by Paolo Chikiamco, Philippine Speculative Fiction 6
  • High Society by Paolo Chikiamco and Hanna Buena (comic)
  • “Moon Maiden’s Mirror” by Joyce Chng, Semaphore Magazine
  • “Chang’Er Flew To The Moon” by Joyce Chng, Bards and Sages
  • “Between Islands” by Jaymee Goh, Expanded Horizons
  • “Lunar Year’s End” by Jaymee Goh, Crossed Genres
  • “The Last Rickshaw” by Stephanie Lai, Crossed Genres
  • “One Last Interruption Before We Begin” by Stephanie Lai, Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories
  • Lao Steampunk blogposts by Bryan Thao Worra
  • Steampunk Nusantara, DreamWidth Community
  • The Steam-Powered Globe, edited by Maisarah Abu Samad and Rosemary Lim
  • Digitizing Chinese Englishmen

Do these stories have to be nautical-themed?

Despite the title THE SEA IS OURS, stories do not actually have to be on, above, under or even near the sea. Or have anything to do with large bodies of water.

If I get rejected, will you tell me why?

If we have the energy, sure, but be careful what you wish for. Resultant hate mail will be summarily deleted, or published somewhere for public mocking.

White Rabbit Red Rabbit Talkback & Workshop

Posted on 21 February 2014

Tickets : Dpac.com.my

Talkback promo High-res version

The most interesting theatre show in Klang Valley this month is likely White Rabbit, Red Rabbit. The playwright, Nassim Soleimanpour of Iran, conceived an idea for a show that could travel without him, and would require no directors, no stage, no rehearsals. Every night, an actor receives the script and performs a cold reading of the text to a live audience. Much of what delights about the show is seeing how dramatically the energy and feel of it changes depending on the actor onstage, and the audience members pulled up with him/her.

It’s a show that addresses the more sinister questions of life with a lighthearted voice — but the questions will stick in your head after. The point of the show is to be surprised, so we don’t want to give away anything — but do make time to watch it. The play is performed in three languages in Malaysia (KL and Penang): Malay, English, and Mandarin.

Below are the details for talkback with the people behind White Rabbit Red Rabbit (including playwright Nassim Soleimanpour), and a theatre workshop for those interested.

Talkback promo

A workshop for theatre makers, playwrights, theatre students and theatre goers.

Is it possible to have theatrical performance by a non- the theatrical frame? And if, the frame is subverted in this way, is it still theatre? Or has the whole event evaporated back into life?

DATE: Feb 24 & 25 (Mon & Tue)
TIME: 7.00pm- 11.00pm
VENUE: Five Arts Centre @TTDI, Studio (Address:27,27A, Jalan Datuk Sulaiman 7, Taman Tun Dr.Ismail, 60000,KL)
FEE: RM60/pax
DRESS CODE: Dress Comfortably
1.Bank into The Instant Café Theatre Company (Bank Acc: RHB Bank 21403500133062), send the bank in slip to the email below.
2.Pay cash to Hui Ting (Stage Manager) OR Tania (F.O.H) during the performance of White Rabbit Red Rabbit.

Kindly email instantcafetheatre.co@gmail.com to book a slot. Limited to the first 30 applicants.

Nassim Soleimanpour is an independent multidisciplinary theatre maker from Tehran, Iran. Best known for his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance, Summerworks Outstanding New Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe) as well as picking up nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award. Nassim is an experienced public speaker, most recently as a panellist for the In Conversation series.

A Little Conviction

Posted on 28 November 2013

Venue : The Canvas

Facebook : Electric Minds Project

Listing : FB event page

Twitter : @electricminds

Hashtag : #alittleconvictionemp


Electric Minds Project takes on the story of boy meets girl (and gets engagement ring) with A Little Conviction, Jody Lancaster’s newest comedy about the war of the sexes and the great eternal mystery of what women want from men. The play features Ostella Adam, Karynn Tan, Alvin Looi and Tan Meng Kheng, and is directed by Alex Chua.

Audience members can immerse themselves in the play, as there will be no audience seating — the performance will happen around you, and you get to choose who or what you want to watch.*

Evening shows: 27–30 Nov , 8.30pm
(RM38 full price, RM33 Adults under 30, RM23 concessions)
Matinee shows: 30 Nov – 1 Dec, 3.30pm
(RM23 flat rate)
Ticket deals: Buy 4 Get 1 Free For on all online purchases.

Extra links:

The Star: The gem session [read]
The Backstage Life: A Little Conviction [watch]


Posted on 28 November 2013

Facebook : TEDxKLWomen

Kakiseni : Buy Tickets

Cheryl Yeoh (pic by Ed Garcia at http://www.edcarlogarcia.com/)

Cheryl Yeoh (pic by Ed Garcia at http://www.edcarlogarcia.com/)

A celebration of the art of entrepreneurship, innovation and invention in all its forms, TEDxKLwomen makes its annual return to the stage with this year’s theme “Money — Invented Here”. The conference aims to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences, and will feature a list of guest entrepreneurs who will speak on turning new ideas and innovations into financial success.

Speakers include Tintoy Chua and Take Huat of the popular Peperangan Bintang (Star Wars in Wayang Kulit); notorious comedian Joanne Kam; founder of all-female Queen’s Hostel Rachel Koay; food stylist Samantha Lee; The Apprentice UK contestant and social entrepreneur Melody Hossaini; luxury headband designers from Sereni & Shentel; and successful founder of tech startups Cheryl Yeoh.

For more information, visit TEDxKLWomen FB, and purchase tix here. *

Disclaimer: TEDxKLwomen is an initiative by Women:Girls (which shares an office space with Kakiseni), and Lynn Loo of our parent company Kakiseni is working on the project.

Year-End Dances

Posted on 28 November 2013

2014 is just around the corner, and here are the dance productions you should be watching before the year ends:

6th Nyoba Kan International Butoh Festival
29th–30th November, 830PM |Black Box @ DPAC

Nyoba Kan has been actively promoting and performing the unique Malaysian take on the Butoh dance, which originated in Japan, for years now. If you haven’t caught any of their performances, the Butoh Festival is your best bet. There will be a performance of The Thousand Hands Arhat (which was also staged in Urbanscapes over the weekend) by Nyoba Kan, and Unspelled by Yuko Kaseki, a Japanese Butoh dancer currently based in Berlin. More details →

The Island by Kwang Tung Dance Company
29th & 30th Nov, 3PM (Saturday only) and 8.30PM | DPAC


Kwang Tung Dance Company (KTDC) was founded ni 1980 and til this day continues to provide quality dance productions. The Island will feature three choreographers: Amy Len (Artistic Director of KTDC), Jack Kek (former dancer of the internationally renowned Cloud Gate 2 Dance Company) and Loh Kok Man (Artistic Director of Pentas Project). More details →

Wushu Madness II — The Realm Between by Lee Wushu Arts Theatre & Lee Wushu Arts Workshop
1 Dec, 3PM & 830PM | Pentas 1 klpac


Wushu Madness II — The Realm Between is a production that combines martial arts and contemporary dance — two different philosophies and approaches into one new arts form. The piece explores the beauty and power of the human spirit through the interplay between contrasting movement, lighting and set design. More details →

Uncommon Ground
4th Dec, 730PM | Fonteyn Studio Theatre, PJ

Caitlin MacKenzie and Gabriel Comerford, Asialink Resident Choreographers at Rimbun Dahan, present a work-in-progress showing of their new full-length work.

Uncommon Ground is a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary work that depicts a story of two identities coming together in one place, transitioning through friction, destruction, compromise and progression, concluding with something that extends beyond the sum of its parts. This concept speaks to an internal and external landscape; a personal struggle to discover and understand oneself and the realities of living in a diverse and ever-changing society. More details →

Film X Dance: Solo Shorts Improvisation Project
6th December, 8PM | Magic Bean Dance & Body Skills Studio

7 Dancers x 7 Improvisation styles x 7 short dance films = creating infinite moments of the imagination.

Solo Shorts Improvisation Project is a performance that features video art and dance improvisation by 7 dancers under the artistic guidance of Jack Kek. Through physical creativity exercises and exploration of movement, the dancers gradually work towards expanding their own personal sense of improvisation using space, music and props to devise a new and unique kind of body language. Emerging photographer Will Chong captures the essence and quality of every dancer through his photographs and short films. More details →

Intertwined by Toccata Studio
6th & 7th Dec, 830PM; 8th Dec, 3PM | Black Box @ MAP, Publika

Choreographer Steve Goh, music composer Chor Guan Ng and set designer Lisa Foo collaborate through the lens of their art disciplines to create a performing arts piece by interpreting the word “Intertwined”. A performing art piece based on is interaction, moveable abstract origami set design that inspire the body movement of dancers, and music that incorporate the ideas of body movement. More details →

FlatLand: An Adaptation in Dance presented by TerryandTheCuz & Suhaili Micheline
6-15 Dec, 830PM (Sunday shows 3PM only) | KuAsh Theatre

Presented by TerryandTheCuz and multi-award winning dancer Suhaili Micheline, Flatland is a contemporary dance performance adapted from Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, the satirical novella by Edward A Abbott. You may have seen their performance art installation at Urbanscapes. This looks like an ambitious multimedia collaborative adaptation, and with Terryandthecuz, things always get interesting. More details →

Secrets of the Lost Circus™ by Viva Circus
6th Dec, 830pm; 7th & 8th Dec, 3PM & 830PM | DPAC

Inspired by classic fantasies and fairytales, Secrets of the Lost Circus™ is written and directed by Vivian Lea, and will be a unique multimedia acrobatics dance show. More details →

That’s our list of dances to end 2013 with — any you’d like to add to the list? Let us know! *

Something I Wrote

Posted on 27 November 2013

Event listing : on Kakiseni.com

Event listing : on Facebook

Azmyl Yunor : Official website

Five Arts Centre : Official website

Photos : Something I Wrote Photo Album

Azmyl Yunor : Facebook Page

Azmyl Yunor is my current frontrunner for the quintissential urban-Malaysian multihyphenate. The multihyphenate is commonly found in cities like ours where there is a demand for sophisticated or globalised ideas, art and other consumables, but still not big enough to sustain all of the talent. Put another way, the brain drain is so pervasive that the outstanding talents who do stick around have lots of room to stretch and work. Specialisation as an artist in KL is often both unnecessary and unfeasible — smaller fish means you don’t have to fight so hard for that one job, and at the same time there won’t be enough work if you only do one thing. Azmyl is a true many-hat-wearer as he’s achieved distinction in many of his fields. And when you’re that good, sometimes your friends stage a musical based on your work.

Something I Wrote

All pics by Huneid Tyeb, courtesy of Five Arts Centre

Something I Wrote was presented by Five Arts Centre at the Black Box in MAP Publika. Grudgingly labeled a documentary-musical, it was conceptualised by director Mark Teh partly in reaction to the swathe of nostalgia-focused local musicals that have appeared such as Tunku, Puteri Gunung Ledang and P Ramlee the Musical. Devised from research of written work by and about Azmyl, the play was structured as a medley of vignettes presenting a selection of songs, journalism, academia dan lain-lain turned into theatrical pictures. Like a best-of album or Wikipedia page, we learned a little bit about the man’s early life, discography, academic work and political activism.

Teh and his cohort of able actors are adept at crafting beautiful moments, living images full of context and thought that present themselves honestly and dissolve gently. The set and cast were amorphous like their image of Azmyl. Pieces of scaffolding were pushed, pulled, locked and split to make vans, podiums and projection screens in a welcome change from wooden black cubes; and the actors were journalists or demons or seven copies of the man himself.


Paired with varied and imaginative arrangements of the songs, the piece presented several delights. One song was sung while the actors just created circles of candlelight or wound fairy lights on bars, made lamps out of tubs and generally made small islands of illumination, vigil-like against the dark. A speech made at an UndiMalaysia event was delivered by an actor dressed entirely in flags — flags became a kain sampin, a tanjak, a cape and other things.  He was joined by actors dressed as superheroes with colour-coded costumes made mostly out of plastic bags and T-shirts tied in various ways . After the speech, they slowly stripped their many layers and tossed them into the air. The black air and ground were filled with falling colours. Pretty, poignant and funny.

The humour in the piece was generally sidelong and sarcastic but with compassion – “This is my Malaysia, warts and all,” it seemed to say. In the much-highlighted segment about an incident at Paul’s Place, where police broke up a punk show by claiming to be doing a black metal raid, actors flipped roles according to whose perspective they were viewed from. To the police they were delinquents; as normal participants they were scared and confused; to the Utusan journalist they were winged-sex-fiend-demons with masks and capes. Hilarious but not judgmental. To my mind, Five Arts has a pretty healthy handle on dealing with our various issues of race, identity, globalisation and so forth.

The peaks of the show were thoughtful and strong, but the connecting threads in between lacked a consistent direction. Since it was difficult to get a feel for where we were going, each peak moment had to work harder and harder to regain attention. Interestingly, the most gripping parts near the end were projected recordings of Azmyl himself, which makes the tribute succesful while unfortunately upstaging the actors. Unhelpfully, the Black Box has no soundproofing, and there was loud music coming in from outside (the musicians were valiant in staying in time with the cast, who dealt with this bravely).


It is hard to see what it’s all about or trying to say. One possibility is simply, “Hey, check out this cool person.” Perhaps it’s a meditation on many-hat-wearing. Or just glimpses of the contemporary intellectual artist and their challenges. Speaking of contemporary intellectual artists, it’s interesting to note that the readiest applauders were exactly such people — songwriters, theatrefolk, filmmakers, and people generally recognised as being “in the scene”. The other half of the audience, by the end, was a bit fidgety. An anecdote — one sequence was a fake open-mic night with the stereotypes you get at those. One person imitated singer-songwriter Peter Hassan Brown, and I laughed and felt the warmth of inclusion. But when another referenced Reza Salleh, who was in the audience, I wondered if it was still funny if you didn’t know that he runs a fortnightly open mic. The specialisation of the target audience becomes a question then. Is it a show created mostly for one gang? Most of the actors came from one school, where Teh is a lecturer. The only podcasted radio interview I could find was from BFM. There was literally an interview conducted by Azmyl Yunor featuring Mark Teh about the show about Azmyl Yunor.

Something I Wrote is a strong, thoughtful and daring piece in the vein of Five Arts’ work which has always been of high quality.”

Is it important? If it’s really full of inside jokes then perhaps it becomes a celebration of this community — we are here, we are still here and we are numerous enough to be a market. Worthy things. Conversely, it asks whether theatremakers are responsible for insistently reaching out. Insularity within the English-language KL theatre scene is more or less endemic, and it’s up to the creators and next generation artists to decide how much they feel the need to address this.

All in all, Something I Wrote is a strong, thoughtful and daring piece in the vein of Five Arts’ work which has always been of high quality. I will continue to watch their shows and probably most importantly, I am now inclined to buy a stack of Azmyl Yunor albums.