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Review

Of Boys and Breath Mints

By Yasmin Zetti Martin What kind of school has toughening-up camps that they force their “effeminate” students to attend? The kind of school located in front of a railway station that is known as a red light district? Or is this just the school playwright Shanon Shah went to? The school in question is the […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • July 11, 2008

Shirley Lim’s Layered Confection

By Grace Ng A daughter rapes and kills her father. This was how I first came to know Shirley Lim – through a short story entitled Mr. Tang’s Girls that I had to analyze for a literature class. Lim grew up in Malaysia but moved to America in her twenties. It is from her diasporic […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • July 2, 2008

The Virtues of Sin

By Gabrielle Low In Bernice Chauly’s small but substantial collection of poetry and prose, The Book of Sins, words indeed rage forth from the page, and they do so with a searing yet unembellished forcefulness. It’s hard not to note, first and foremost, the urgent, pounding rhythm to some of the lines in this collection. […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • March 19, 2008

Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”

By Kathy Rowland Persepolis is based on the best-selling graphic novel of the same name by Marjane Satrapi. Directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, featuring the voices of Danielle Darrieux and Cathering Deneuve, it won the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, along with a clutch of other international awards and nomination. Like […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • February 14, 2008

Hans Issac’s “Cuci”

By Benjamin McKay The directorial debut by leading actor Hans Isaac is more impressive than I had anticipated. For all of its syrupy Malaysia Boleh sentiments, “Cuci” is in fact a fairly well constructed entertainment. One of the pleasures of the film is that it takes the tired cliché of the ubiquitous KL skyline establishing […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • February 5, 2008

KSFM’s “Malaysian Shorts”

By Benjamin McKay Monday evening’s screening of recent Malaysian short films largely confirmed the talent and richness to be found in the work of some of our leading independent filmmakers. Organised by Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia and hosted by the irrepressibly witty Amir Muhammad, these screenings are now firmly a part of the local film […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • January 24, 2008

Tembak: Mark Tan’s “Jarum Halus”

By Benjamin McKay For a debut feature film, Mark Tan’s “Jarum Halus” proves to be both bold and audacious. With mainstream ambitions and craftily manipulated indie edginess, this present day Malaysian version of Shakespeare’s “Othello” is bound to have the pundits’ tongues wagging. In so many ways, this film should not work but even with […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • January 9, 2008

Tembak Shots: “WOMAD Singapore’s 10th Anniversary”

By Bernice Chauly My first WOMAD experience in Toronto, Canada in 1988 was a seminal experience – having hitch-hiked from Winnipeg, some 1500 km away where I was in university. A music-festival junkie by then, I had to get to WOMAD Toronto by whatever means possible as the man himself — Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • January 4, 2008

Success At First Bloom

By Benjamin McKay It takes great skill to make a film about the emotional and material deprivation of young children without resorting to either sentimentality or sermonizing. How, instead, do you make an empathetic, realistic and non-preachy film about the plight of children in need and still manage to fully engage with your audience? Can, […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 19, 2007

Tembak: Low Yi Chin & Chong Kim Chiew’s “A White House and A Temporary Road”

By Zedeck Siew A red Chinese box-altar stands on one of The Annexe Gallery’s upper levels; its idol, a cross-legged figure with a white beard, looks over a space in which two-by-fours, of varying sizes and each encrusted with a layer of fresh asphalt, lay scattered. Some distinguish themselves: “Platform” has a panel raised as […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • November 11, 2007

Every Frog Has Its Day

By Amir Hafizi Urgh. For some reason, when the arts community decides to embark on a production that have frogs who dream of singing, they get all “cheesed out”. All that reservoir of cheesiness, all that pent-up corniness. Yes, that corny energy, unleashed upon the unsuspecting public. Just look at “Frogway” ‘s television spot — […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 27, 2007

More Than a Festival

By Antares It gets harder and harder to review the Rainforest World Music Festival without sounding like someone who’s had a lobotomy and can’t stop grinning like an imbecile – especially when this was the 10th anniversary reunion well-worn partiers like me have been anticipating since the end of last year’s bash. So I’ll start […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • July 25, 2007

Strange Bedfellows

By Benjamin McKay Two very varied feature films opened recently, the first two parts of a planned trilogy on love by acclaimed indie filmmaker James Lee. James has had a productive career, to date, and critical analysis of his work has often focused on stylistic comparisons with Taiwanese New Wave stalwarts like Tsai Ming-Liang (who, […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 22, 2007

Tembak: Wed 9 – Wed 16, May 2007

By Kakiseni Opera Pinocchio Sat 12, May 2007 Once upon a time there was an old carpenter, Geppetto, who wanted a son. A fairy heard the man’s wish, and – as Geppetto lay asleep – granted the gift of life to a wooden puppet. This was how Pinocchio was born. However, the fairy neglected one […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 16, 2007

Metaphors Be With You

By Antares The moment you start focusing your attention on them, metaphors wriggle right out of the woodwork, springing from the ground beneath your feet like mushrooms. Back in 2000 – that pivotal year in which the Earth’s axis was realigned by the crowning of Neocon Emperor George Bush – I gave up on romance, […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 14, 2007

Death and Tears

By J-Teoh Fancy costumes and hoity-toity language do not generally agree with me in the theatre, so it was with much trepidation that I went to see Wong Phui Nam’s Anike: A Play In Verse (at Dewan Budaya USM on the January 26th and 27th, it also played at Jalan Bukit Bintang’s Wisma SGM the […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • March 1, 2007

Enjoy the Silence

By Shanon Shah The semi-autobiographical domestic drama by Nobel laureate Harold Pinter, Betrayal (staged at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre Pentas 2 between January 5th and 14th), starts off with a scene between a pair of former adulterous lovers, Emma and Jerry. From their conversation we eventually learn that, apart from their affair, another […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • January 16, 2007

Telltale Lovebites

By Benjamin McKay It has been an important year for independent Malaysian cinema. Triumph on the international festival circuit, success with releases on the screens of major cinemas, both here and overseas – it is cause for celebration that we end the year with another landmark feature. You’ve heard this by now: made with the […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 20, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen

By Juliet Jacobs and Zalina Lee He’s practically done it all: the West End (Miss Saigon, Rent), Hollywood (Anna & The King), Malaysian theatre (Spilt Gravy on Rice) — he even came out tops in what was, in 1995, the Idol series of its day: the Singapore Fame Awards. In other words, the proverbial triple […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 13, 2006

Bootlegging

By Benjamin McKay It would take a very hard-hearted person to not admire the gumption of Khairil M Bahar, who produced, wrote, directed and edited his feature film debut, Ciplak, with the paltry sum of RM10,000 – and managed to get it released in Golden Screen Cinemas, one of the nation’s leading chains. He is […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 5, 2006

Stiff Monster

By Amir Hafizi Watching the KLPac production of Frankenstein in Love, I was somehow reminded of a play I saw at a high-school theatre competition about 10 years back. It was a staging of Keris Laksaman Bentan, a popular text about the assassination of Sultan Mahmud. Everyone had packets of rose syrup hidden under their […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • November 9, 2006

The Funky Guru

By Matt Armitage Finding out about international acts performing live in Malaysia can be a bit like playing with the lottery: you never know what to expect. There are the popular, well-advertised stadium shows, like the Pussycat Dolls and INXS, of course — but more interesting are the smaller shows, promoted through word of mouth […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • October 24, 2006

Shining Through The Rain

By Benjamin McKay Some filmmakers use film as a tool to tell narratives and build worlds. Other filmmakers, a rare few, inhabit film as if it were already a tangible world – a world in need only of some simple shaping and orchestration to produce fine semblances of life. Ho Yuhang’s Sanctuary (2004), a simple […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • October 24, 2006

Lepidopterists – the Musical

By Jess C Those who are familiar with classical Chinese literature will have heard of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, the legendary, ill-fated ‘Butterfly Lovers’ of yore. When Dama Orchestra — almost synonymous for their high quality and unique presentations of Shanghai-style shi dai qu — decided to stage this well-loved tale as the group’s […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • October 17, 2006

Listening to Pomeloes

By CH Loh What do the films Lelaki Komunis Terakhir and Gubra have in common? Obvious answer: they were both Malaysian films that stirred local controversy in recent times. Less obvious answer: they both contained music by composer Hardesh Singh. When one talks about film, composers rarely get mentioned. “Film is not a medium for […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • October 11, 2006

Race and Place

By Benjamin McKay One should applaud the release of another Malaysian independent feature on local screens – on that count, therefore, you can add the sound of my two hands, clapping. In his debut feature film, Arivind Abraham’s S’kali (Malaysia, 2006; in English and Malay; Perantauan Pictures) explores the uneasy terrain inhabited by a group […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • October 3, 2006

Pillage the Village

By Amir Hafizi The programme leaflet for Anak Bulan Di Kampong Wa’ Hassan, staged recently at KLPac, has a sort of disclaimer. Roughly translated, it says: ‘Far from a romantic lament about a nostalgic Malay kampung, the play is an exploration of the true value of a kampung filled with original characters; and the true […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • September 27, 2006

Hiking Out of Ipoh

By Benjamin McKay Coming of age stories, especially those that take us on a physical journey, can be problematic films to craft well – the narratives are often loaded with detail, and when resolutions are sought there is a tendency to mire them under the weight of sentimentality. Goodbye Boys (Malaysia, 2006; English with Malay […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • September 21, 2006

Domestic Stress Test

By Zedeck Siew At the door to Laut Lebih Indah Dari Bulan, which ran between September 7 – 10 at the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Stor Teater, one is given a slip of paper titled Stress Test: the printout contains eight floral configurations, subtly coloured to appear — as the eye moves across the page […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • September 20, 2006

Sejarah Masa Depan

By Saifullizan Tahir Majlis pelancaran buku From Majapahit to Putrajaya –– yang mana saya terlewat dan bila sampai majlis sudahpun selesai. Mujurlah berkesempatan duduk sama menikmati teh tarik bersama beberapa teman yang masih berlegar di situ. Pada ketika inilah saya dirapati oleh Kathy untuk membuat ulasan buku Farish. Ulasan buku saya yang sebelum ini adalah […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • September 7, 2006

The Scenic Bridge of Ipoh

By Nigel Skelchy There is always that moment of trepidation when a curtain rises on a musical for the first time. If the impact of the first scene is less than a sonic boom, it muffles the rest of the musical. What more an all Malaysian musical written by two untried and untested neophytes? It […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 24, 2006

Bohemian Academy

By CH Loh Long long ago in a galaxy far far away there was a land whose people enjoyed a good twist or two, and whose womenfolk wore tight fitting kebayas that accentuated their curves, and original songs and movies were peppered with naughty fun. It was a bygone era — when it was all […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 24, 2006

Tidak Seniman Hilang di Dunia

By Yati Hj Kaprawi Melalui seni, U-Wei Haji Saari sentiasa meneroka alam pemikiran baru. Isu-isu dan sifat manusia yang kompleks seperti identiti sesuatu bangsa pun dipaparkannya. “Kalau takut meneroka, baik saya berhenti berfikir,” ujarnya. Kali ini U-Wei mencabar lagi isu identiti bangsa dengan pementasan barunya bertajuk Wangi Jadi Saksi. Ia mengisahkan peristiwa bersejarah dalam dunia […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • July 27, 2006

Rockin’ in the Free World

By Chuah Siew Eng Music as a tool of political consciousness doesn’t happen often enough — perhaps unsurprisingly for a society wary about the uncontrolled consequences of freedom of expression. But that rare occasion of bands banding together to bandy an important issue did happen recently when, on the last weekend of May, groups like […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • July 12, 2006

Il Diva

By Lisa Ho Most people know that an opera “ain’t over till the fat lady sings”. Originating from a reference to Wagner’s Brunhilde singing the “Fire Song”, the sight of a shrieking fat lady in a steel bra and war helmet seems to be the accepted image of divas who sing in fat, polished tones […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • July 4, 2006

Free Winnie

By Ruhayat X “Apa erti semua tadi tu?” kata makcik yang telah mencegatkan dirinya bertentangan dengan aku tu. “Saya… tak berapa faham.” Aku gunakan terma “makcik” tu in a loose sense, sebab sebenarnya kalau aku berselisih dengan dia di jalanan and I didn’t know she had a grown-up daughter, hiris pergelangan tangan aku takkan sangka […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • June 29, 2006

A Room with a View

By Zalina Lee Theatre diva and award-winning set designer Edwin Sumun is the interior decorator for the recently opened Top Room along Jalan Kia Peng. Edwin’s magic touch had transformed what was the upper floor of a restaurant into a jazz bar. The night we were there, he was also the MC, a stand-in manager […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • June 21, 2006

Alien Nations

By CH Loh We learn something new everyday. I for example learnt that the new politically correct term for foreign workers — you know, the people who tend our kids and clean our homes 24 hours a day (if possible, if not then at least 18 hours), clean the streets, serve us drinks at the […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • June 20, 2006

Unequal Partnership

By J-Teoh Are double bills the fashion nowadays? Directed by up-and-coming 20-year old director Goh Fung Shuan, Noise Performance House’s double bill Brothers. Beloved kicked off to a colourful and flamboyant start with Brothers. A coming-of-age tale of two orphan boys, not actually brothers, who leave their welfare home on a journey into the world, […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • June 17, 2006

No Higher Love

By J-Teoh Spending a Friday night out with two unmarried, middle-aged Englishmen who still live with their mothers is not my idea of a fun date, but apparently personal ads can be deceiving, especially in the case of Graham Whittaker and Gus Gascoigne, at the Actors Studio Greenhall, Penang. Still, you would have to play […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 7, 2006

Sedang Ingin Bercinta

By Remin Noir Apa sebenarnya berlaku pada petang panas terik hari sabtu 15 April yang lepas? Khabarnya terjadi satu peristiwa kontroversi di dalam iklim hiburan muzik di Malaysia. Ramai karyawan muzik Malaysia yang tidak bersetuju dengan acara keramaian yang jelas menganak-tirikan kelompok pemuzik tempatan. Asalnya acara sebegini adalah bertujuan untuk bersuka-ria malah juga menikmat nuansa […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 5, 2006

Pent-up House

By Sherry Siebel Maybe far too many evenings spent captive watching fusty, antediluvian and embarrassingly démodé British Airways Playhouse productions over the years in the name of journalism have caused me to despise them more than a little. They’re always the goddamn same. They’re always mawkish farces, which means that the usual accelerating kerfuffle arising […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • April 25, 2006

Instant Latte Theatre

By Lainie Yeoh ROJAK! ended with a shower of empty Marlboro boxes, several successfully aimed at my head — and one actually thwacked me in the eye. I reckon this is the only show I’ve been to where the reviewer was attacked before the review was written. ROJAK!, presented by The Oral Stage with their […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • April 20, 2006

Imaginary Homeland

By Benjamin McKay “Sometimes I wonder if you guys realise how hard it is for the rest of us to live here. It’s like being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back.” – Alan in Gubra In Yasmin Ahmad’s Malaysia, it appears possible for a Chinese Malaysian man to give a Malay woman […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • April 14, 2006

The Umur of Innocence

By Ruhayat X Masa sekolah rendah dulu aku ramai member Cina, sebab parents aku for whatever reason lebih suka bergaul dengan cikgu-cikgu Cina colleagues diorang. Ada sorang member aku tu, nama dia Mun. Mun ni badan dia gempal. Muka dia bulat, kulit dia putih bersih, bukan kuning-kuning macam setengah orang Cina. Aku dengan dia start […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • April 14, 2006

Where Muftis Fear to Tread

By Toni Kasim Gubra raises a whole pile of socio-religio issues — some may even consider it somewhat overburdened — and in a heavily censored society, you really want to credit Yasmin Ahmad for using narrow windows of opportunities to test the limits of national and social discourse, even if some viewers may come away […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • April 14, 2006

Putting the “Ha” Back in Harold Pinter

By Ruhayat X The Homecoming, typical of Harold Pinter’s plays, starts out innocently enough, with a normal domestic scene between an old man and his son. It is not long, however, before you start realising that, as it is with life, what you see on the surface is not all that it seems. The plot […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • March 29, 2006

Project Runaway

By Antares M! The Opera, staged at Istana Budaya from Thu 23 Mar to Sun 2 Apr 2006, is arguably the most ambitious and esoteric piece of music theatre ever conceived and produced in Malaysia. I’m awed by Saidah Rastam’s perseverance and stamina, and gratified that after such a protracted incubation, her monumental vision has […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • March 28, 2006

Laptop Unplugged

By Matt Armitage When we heard that Lewis Pragasam was lining up a couple of Asiabeat shows (Fri 27 – Sat 28, Jan 2006) as part of the excellent Alexis jazz series at Great Eastern Mall we weren’t exactly overly excited. Not because there’s anything wrong with Asiabeat – they’ve been an essential part of […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • February 12, 2006

Double Afdlin Burger

By Ruhayat X Don’t say I never do anything for you, ducklings. Sebagai khidmat sosial dari aku, here’s a quick and simple test to see if these two movies – Afdlin Shauki’s double whammy Buli Balik and Baik Punya Cilok – are must-see events untuk dipenselkan dalam kalendar kau: Katak. Well? Adakah sepatah perkataan tu […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • February 9, 2006

Not In The Mood

By Jerome Kugan I have nothing against the Chinese. After all, I myself am half chink. But every now and then, I think of how the Chinese community in Malaysia (as do other races in their own way) default to their 5,000-year-old continuous history’s worth of identity so self-assuredly when asked what it means to […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • January 18, 2006

The Gospel of Rock

By Azmyl Yunor It was interesting to see if the Street Roar Independent Music Festival 2006 could be translated effectively from its Petaling Street origins to the idyllic lake-side setting of KLPac. The context of the event, being held a week to day of the dumbfounding raid at Paul’s Place on New Year’s Eve, was […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • January 17, 2006

“Kami Tak Minum Darah Kambing!”

By Rafil Elyas About two weeks before the cops hunted down satanic elements at Paul’s Place, I accepted this assignment from Kakiseni to review Rock The World 6 (17 Dec 2005, Stadium Merdeka) and unwittingly exposed myself to some potentially dangerous music. At that time, I had neglected to check if any of the bands […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • January 16, 2006

Teater Saat Akhir

By Zulkifli Mohamad Saya menjadi Lipas Kudung selama 5 hari kerana nak menonton Teater Melayu. Apa tidaknya, ada tiga festival yang berlangsung dalam minggu yang sama: Festival Teater Wilayah Persekutuan 2005 di Taman Budaya Kuala Lumpur pada 17-21 Disember Empat Drama di Stor Teater DBP pada 19-22 Disember Minggu Teater ASK yang menampilkan empat monolog […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • January 9, 2006

The MPO Winter Collection

By Zalina Lee I spent the first two years of my marriage as a professional mall rat. And I’m here to tell you, young grasshoppers, that if you need a bathroom on a Sunday, and just so happen to be in KLCC at the time, forget about getting close to an empty toilet stall. Just. […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 23, 2005

Majukanlah Rock Untuk Negara

By Nur Hanim Khairuddin Meski menyorot sekelumit dari sejarah sosio-hiburan silam yang berkecamuk dan tercerai-cerai, Rock membawa kita kembali menjengah keberadaan ‘pop culture’ dan ‘pesta muda-mudi’ di dekad 80an. Penuh nostalgia, padat dengan lagak dan imej realistik disulami beberapa babak kelakar, Mamat Khalid memaparkan secebis sahsiah dan siasah popular (asalnya sub-kultural jua) pemuda Melayu generasi […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 23, 2005

Murder Most Foul (Can you smell the belacan?)

By Meng Yew Choong This is another whodunit for the big stage. Though it was presented to Singaporeans for the third time (in 1997 and 1998 at the Jubilee Hall of the Raffles Hotel), the difference this time was that it took place within the magnificent confines of the sophisticated Esplanade Theatre. Being my first […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 15, 2005

Our Funny Valentines

By Antares I don’t even like jazz, as a genre, but jazz virtuosos do generate a peculiar fascination. You have to be so goddam good to pass muster as a “jazz great’ the accomplishment in itself is worth applauding and recording. As jazz pianists go, few get any better than Singapore’s mythical Monteiro (Jeremy) and […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 15, 2005

Konfrontasi: With Ourselves

By Chuah Siew Eng “If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.” The significance of history, succinctly explained by Aristotle, comes too late for me and generations of schoolchildren for whom history is a jumble of meaningless dates and past happenings with little impact on our everyday lives. Little did we know […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 9, 2005

Beaches Brew

By James Lochhead Lying on the grass, staring up at the crescent moon, the sea breeze gently rustling, and then to hear the cool soprano saxophone sound of Japanese jazz band Jaja thrilling the air – the melodic piano at the back, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, the hendrix-like guitar, lifting the sound and […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 9, 2005

The Taste of Death

By Christina Orow We’ve all heard about the unusual delicacy that is the Shakespeare speech. Breaking through the initial layer of incomprehension is like getting over the initial revulsion to the smell of durian, until we take that first bite that sends us over to the other side. In a moment, all resistance to the […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • December 7, 2005

Memoirs of a Banana

By Cheryl Tan “A Chinese Make Love Story.” What does that mean, exactly? The programme synopsis says the play “explores the very issue which plagues every Malaysian. When is a Chinese not Chinese enough?” Strangely, this seems to be the tone of the musical The Girl from Ipoh (9-13, Nov 2005, KLPac). Bridget Jones meets […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • November 17, 2005

A Theatrical Bermuda Triangle

By Jeremy Mahadevan German playwright Falk Richter’s Electronic City is meant to be chaotic or, as the programme would have it, “a panic-stricken farce from the inner world of contemporary busyness.” Consequently it’s full of people running around, bumping into each other, falling over and booming from the rooftops. And it has the potential to […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • November 10, 2005

Who’s Shitting in My Backyard?

By Erick Chiew Bravery in Broga I stay in Puchong. Some time back, I was asked to sign a petition protesting the building of an incinerator nearby. I asked the person holding the petition form, “How do you know the incinerator is bad?” She said it’s because her boss said so. I asked her again, […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • October 27, 2005

Croatian Idol

By Lisa Ho Franz Liszt was classical piano’s first idol. He took the European musical world by storm in the 19th century. With formidable technique at the piano (and in bed) and personal charisma, he left women swooning and men trembling after his concerts. He had fantastic hair too. Ivo Pogorelich, who gave a recital […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • October 25, 2005

Seluar Pendek Cina

By Ruhayat X Di taman permainan kau boleh kutip lebih banyak honesty daripada di mimbar dan pulpit. Selalunya orang paling hampir dengan diri sebenar mereka waktu tengah bermain or enjoying themselves, dan keeping up appearances langsung hilang dari kamus. It was in that spirit that I enjoyed tayangan filem-filem pendek dalam A Company of Shorts […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • October 20, 2005

We Still Haven’t Found What We’re Looking For

By Revathi Murugappan Ever play a round of table tennis with your eyes? Yeah, that’s right, with your eyes. Audiences at The Kwang Tung Dance Troupe’s In Transit, staged at KLPac’s Pentas 2 (23 – 25 Sept) did just this – partake in some eye exercises while enjoying the performance. Markedly different about this performance […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • October 13, 2005

Ready To Reincarnate?

By Lee Jia Ping At the “Party With 12 Local Theatre Directors” which closed the PingStage Theatre Carnival (3 Sep – 3 Oct, 2005), lots of wine and insufficient finger food were served, perhaps to enable partygoers to appreciate what it feels like to be an artist: starving and delirious. All around the room in […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • October 13, 2005

Angin Kemarau

By Zulkifli Mohamad Muzium Islam mempunyai persepsi yang agak baik di kalangan pencinta seni tanahair. Kehadirannya di suatu tempat yang begitu strategik, berdekatan Masjid Negara dan bangunan lama Stesyen Keretapi Tanah Melayu, menjanjikan sebuah keindahan yang berbeza. Seni binanya yang moden dan simpel, berasaskan bangunan tradisi Timur Tengah, sekaligus menampilkan perbezaannya dari bangunan lama Stesyen […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • September 22, 2005

Happy Divorce Anniversary!

By Cyril Wong On a stage with only four scaffolding structures and two foldable screens, four actors come on to commemorate 50 years of the Islamic Republic of Malaya and Singapore’s National Day in 2007. This is a scenario dreamed up by two playwrights (Jit Murad from Malaysia and Haresh Sharma from Singapore) with two […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • September 22, 2005

Waiting for Kok Man

By Jerome Kugan Written in 1952, at a time when Europe was intellectually paralysed by World War Two, Les Chaises (The Chairs), by the Theatre of the Absurd’s posterboy Eugene Ionesco (1912-1994), conveys the horrors of the dehumanisation of the individual and the community in Europe as a result of unchecked modernisation. Its Absurdist depiction […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • September 7, 2005

Six Players in Search of a Piano

By Lisa Ho Statistics prove that there are more pianos in Malaysian households than there are OSIM massage-chairs. More people take piano lessons than violin lessons, although this balance might change soon. However, statistics still cannot disprove the fact that there has been a decline in the number of amateur pianists and people with enough […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • September 1, 2005

The Aw-Shucks Couple

By Jeremy Mahadevan If you go to the Kakiseni.com event listing for Romi and Joolee dan lain-lain and read the user comments, you’ll find people have been largely appreciative of the play, the only point of contention being a sort of mini Omar Sharif-Barbra Streisand controversy involving some silly hang-ups certain people have about a […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 25, 2005

Why did the Chicken stay in the Middle of the Road?

By Caroline Marshall “Is it a hen?? Or is it a rooster??” What would YOU do if you find a strange looking chicken amongst your own brood? Especially one that looks like a hen AND a rooster? Well, two children did, and they decided to take the problem to the learned, bijak-pandai members in their […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 25, 2005

The Long And Winding Road

By Pia Zain & Simon Hegarty Pia: Athol Fugard is one of the great playwrights of our time. He has sketched the South African story – from apartheid to freedom – unlike any other. His writing talks about our interconnections as human beings, and it demands to be listened to, felt, experienced. A Fugard play […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 17, 2005

Girls Who Dig Balls

By Chuah Siew Eng Gol & Gincu is like an extended 3R episode. The girl-power slant is to be expected, as the screenplay came from Rafidah Abdullah, co-host and occasional writer for the hip TV-zine with a focus on empowering young women. Featuring kick-ass young girls who also kick balls (ahem!), Gol & Gincu is […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 16, 2005

Canto Bard

By Pia Zain & Simon Hegarty It was an experience and an education for us (Simon and Pia) who don’t understand any Chinese languages to watch the recent production of The Taming of the Shrew. The play had been adapted by director Ling Tang and her cast into Cantonese, and then retranslated back into English […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 16, 2005

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Adaptation

By Lim How Ngean Adaptation mania has hit Chinese-language theatre recently. Starting with the concurrent showings of Lee Swee Keong’s Woman Born From Dragon and the Dramatic Art Society’s Blanche in July, it continued with the Cantonese Bard offering The Taming of the Shrew earlier this month at The Actors Studio Bangsar while Loh Kok […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 11, 2005

Dama Does Disney

By Chris Fui Dive bars, Alley Girls, brothels, and the soldiers that frequent them. China has had its dragon’s share of debauchery and lecherism, and there is no better city that exemplified such gritty exuberance then Shanghai in the 30’s. A growling city that made even Sodom and Gomorrah look like a heavy-petting zoo. But […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 11, 2005

Matinya Seorang Petani

By Zulkifli Mohamad Sewaktu melangkah masuk ke Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, lampu panggung masih terang dan kita seperti dilindungi lelangit kayu yang bertaburan lampunya seperti bintang-bintang. Sekilas terkenang saya pada sajak Usman Awang “Bintang Di Langit Zaman” yang saya baca sewaktu di sekolah rendah. Drama Musikal Uda dan Dara pula adalah asalnya sebuah sajak Usman Awang […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 4, 2005

Vagabonds in Their Own Land

By Sonia Randhawa The first day of the Rainforest World Music Festival began with three choices for me. Attending the press conference for the media invited to cover the festival, attending the opening ceremonies of a Bidayuh Gawai (the traditional harvest festival – nothing to do with RWMF) or attending a landmark court case on […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • August 3, 2005

Violent Symphonies

By Lisa Ho Listening to Gustav Mahler’s 6th symphony (a.k.a. “Tragic”) performed by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of maestro Kees Bakels was, for me, a personal confrontation with an old fear that I have battled with on and off for many years. I am more a Wagner enthusiast, and certainly no Mahler […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • July 28, 2005

Fine Young Communists

By Kam Raslan As the elderly leader of the now defunct Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) points out in his book, Alias Chin Peng: My Side of History – History (with a capital H) is written by the victors. Chin Peng writes, “History is the written testimony – or interpretations – of events by those […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • July 12, 2005

Artists Without Borders

By Gina Fairley The idea of exchange is an interesting one in today’s world where technology, the internet, cheap air travel and satellite-cams deliver news directly into our Ikea-clad lounge-rooms, remove all sense of borders or isolation. As we meld together in a kind of culture-mash, gradually becoming ‘international’, what is it that remains significant […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • July 6, 2005

The Classical Challenge

By Lisa Ho Decked with flowers and fruits in their hair to personify temperate seasons, the nymphs standing outside The Actors Studio Bangsar were unfortunately not enough to persuade many more people to give the Young KL Singers’ latest concert a try. At least not the evening I was there. In the past, the songs […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • June 22, 2005

The Thinking Man

By Adlin Rosli Azmyl Yunor – Tenets (Rapid Ear) Is there some strange community run by Neil Young, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan over in Bangi that we didn’t know about? Judging from Bangi-based singer-songwriter Azmyl Yunor’s Tenets EP, the answer is possibly yes. The music in this CD-r release (with colour-copied-inlay cover) sounds uncannily […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • June 22, 2005

Return to Nature

By Dr. Zakaria Ali The newly established Alpha Utara Gallery, 83 China Street, Penang has just opened its Inaugural Exhibition, beginning the 28th of May, running to the 10th of July 2005. Khoo Sui-Ho owns the gallery, and has invited Chong Hip Seng, Eric Quah, James Sum, Tan Lye Hoe and Tang Hon Yin to […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • June 21, 2005

The Taming of Ning

By Benjamin McKay Subtitles not required A friend here in KL recently suggested to me that my view of Malaysia might be a little askew. For over two years now I have immersed myself in a study of your old Malay movies from the 1950s and 1960s as part of my doctoral dissertation. She suggested […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • June 14, 2005

Quality Time

By Lee Jia Ping My mom and I were watching We Are Family, the third and most recent instalment of Chinese-language theatre series Chup! Take A Break by Need Entertainment. In the middle of the first sketch, a ‘silent’ play in which two actors playing a mommy monkey and a dying baby monkey were slowly […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 20, 2005

Kerajaan Merah

By Al-Mustaqeem Sir Ridley Scott! Dan kita membayangkan sebuah filem epik yang cemerlang seninya, dengan gerak kamera yang memukau; semburat darah, ceraian anggota-anggota tubuh manusia, kekasaran manusia, yang, anehnya, menghasilkan sinematografi yang indah; koreografi gerak yang cukup kemas untuk memaku penonton; perincian dalam prop dan kostum; dan, hampir pasti, kisah yang menarik. Kingdom of Heaven, […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 19, 2005

Moral Police in French Clothing

By Toni Kasim Talk about a cruel coincidence. While the cast of Tartuffe was preparing for opening night at The Actors Studio Bangsar, a woman in Cheras was being robbed at knifepoint in her home by a group of five men and women. The next day’s article, ‘Group using religion to rob’, said that the […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 19, 2005

How to Make a Malaysian Quilt

By Lisa Ho A famous English conductor once said to a lady cellist: “Madam, you have, between your legs, an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands, and all you can do is scratch it!” I admit that after watching the concert Rapsodi Malaysia by the Petronas Performing Arts Group on Friday April 29 at […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 6, 2005

Dancers on the Run

By Selvi Gopal During intermission, as people walk out for a toilet break or a hit of coffee, it is not uncommon to hear them whispering about the first half of whatever show they had just seen. There I was at the performance of Inside Out, squeezed between many ladies in their elaborate saris, and […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 5, 2005

You Are Not Alone

By Vanessa Surian The title didn’t inspire much confidence. A flaccid attempt at humour which I imagined would be replicated throughout the production. “eight” was fine. No bitchy remarks there. But: “(insert witty tagline here)”? Erm, I promised myself I wouldn’t do this but – (insert bitchy comment here). Nevermind. Whats in a name right? […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • May 3, 2005

Perhaps Think A Little

By Sharon Bakar Life Sdn Bhd 3 began with each member of the cast of thirteen bounding forward to introduce themselves and declare proudly, to audience cheers, “I am Malaysian!” National identity has, of course, to embrace ethnic and sexual diversity – there is no such thing as the “average” Malaysian. Yet you have to […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • April 29, 2005

Bangsar Fight Club

By Tan Sei Hon Someone asked me how the latest works by Noor Azizan Rahman Paiman @ Paiman and Roslisham Ismail @ Ise at Galeri Seni Maya, Bangsar, would look like. I answered, from my recollection of past encounters, that they would probably be the usual Dadaist, Rauschenberg-like stuff or imitations of Saatchi’s stable of […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • April 21, 2005

Brave New Whirl

By Pete Teo James Lee is working on my music video. So I might not be the best person to review The Beautiful Washing Machine. However, the Kakiseni editor insisted that I am – supposedly because I’d appointed James after seeing the film and thus my analysis would be informed by the right kind of […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • April 21, 2005

The Girl Who Cries “Huh?”

By Chuah Siew Eng At the first instalment of Shorts for 2005 (it is presented at Help Institute three times a year by Kelab Seni Filem), a friend said she needed to go to film school before she could understand any of the short films. For example, Kit Ong’s 1,3,5, is as obscure as its […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • April 15, 2005

What’s That Balai?

By Sharon Chin Shopping malls are the truly remarkable spaces of this nation. In one multi-storey complex you can get your car washed, dump your kids at daycare, take a shit, exercise at the gym, buy groceries, bring home an exotic iguana, and eat anything from nasi kandar to Seremban siew pau. And it doesn’t […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • April 1, 2005

Soul Searching in Sunway

By Chan Siew Lian Fingers, minus the Soul Avanti Friday Nite Jazz featuring Soul Fingerz, 11 Feb 2005, at Avanti Italian-American Ristorante, Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel On the third day of Chinese New Year, I traded rambling discourses about my marital potential in favour of a jazzy night-out with friends. It was a terrible, terrible […]

  • Azwan Ismail
    Azwan Ismail
  • March 24, 2005