The 60 Second Plug: KL Ensemble’s “A Bucketful of Beckett: 8 Shots”

Kay Chin on knitting, remembering lines, and bizarre initiation rituals.


Tell us about yourself.

I don’t like to window-shop, and I don’t have much money to shop for real. So when a friend told me that there was a “biomechanics” workshop — by director Chris Jacobs –­ going on, I decided to fill my weekends up with it. The next thing I knew, I was part of what is now The Ensemble Theatre of Kuala Lumpur.

The KL Ensemble was officially set up last year. How did it all begin?

It began, unofficially, after the completion of that Chris’s workshop. Some of the participants sort of realised that we could tolerate each other. Chris saw that opportunity, so he gathered us children together, and gradually eased us into weekly trainings — that eventually led to our decision to set up the company.

We love the catchy title of KL Ensemble’s next show: “A Bucketful of Beckett: 8 Shots”.

Catchy, you say? There you go. Mission accomplished.

Tell us more about the pieces chosen for this anthology of Samuel Beckett’s works. How and why did you decide on these pieces?

While the pieces chosen seem like different stories of their own, there is actually a common thread running through them. Though I didn’t choose the pieces, the other members of KL Ensemble and the director did. I didn’t. Not I. Not I, at all.

Why Beckett in the first place?

Again, it was my other members’ and the director’s choice. All I know is that after they attended the Beckett Residency (held at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre in 2006), they all went Beckett-crazy. And I couldn’t stop them.

Tell us of the role(s) you play in “A Bucketful of Beckett”.

I get to sit inside an urn and do some knitting underneath, with my face plastered in flour, while my mouth shoots off the script at rapid fire. I think I should be able to finish a sweater by the end of the fourth performance. If I don’t keep dropping the needle halfway, that is.

What are rehearsals like? Fill us in on the chaos.

The rehearsals are like roller-coaster rides. Fun for a while, then frightening — chaotic, and then orderly. In control for a moment, then state of panic all the way.

And what of the people involved? Are they all colourful characters?

Very colourful indeed. Got Malay, Chinese, Indian, Mat Salleh dan Lain-lain.

What can we expect from you guys in the future?

Expect from us gals, you mean? Sigh … There are more girls than guys in the Ensemble. We need men. More men, please.

Coming back to your question, I’d say: expect the unexpected. We like to surprise even ourselves.

Can anyone join the KL Ensemble? Any bizarre initiation rituals involved?

Yes, anyone can join us. But no, not everyone can join us either. Seriously, it all depends on how disciplined and determined the individual is. No bizarre rituals lah. Just a bit of blood and a lot of sweat and tears. Like that, tough meh?

Any funny stories about your fellows in the cast?

Got. But I can’t remember, now. My head is now full of lines to remember. So I don’t dare to remember other things.

Who / what inspires you?

My neighbours, my colleagues, my relatives, my folks, my in-laws. The driver in the next car, the check-out counter girl at the hypermarket, the bartender, the fler who cut my queue at the cinema.

What are you up to, next?

Get a dog, maybe. At the same time, I’ll keep trying the jackpot.

First Published: 26.04.2007 on Kakiseni

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