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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]


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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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? […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]


By Remin Noir Dewa – Laskar Cinta Aquarius Musikindo Album studio terbaru Dewa, kumpulan rock termashyur dari Indonesia, benar-benar adalah album yang lari dari bunyi Dewa yang biasa. Banyak pembaharuan yang dibenahi Ahmad Dhani sang produser dan pemain kibod dalam memperkenalkan idealisme muziknya. Laskar Cinta ini lebih kearah kekerasan rock yang diadun bersama bunyi moden […]

They’ve Theatres, We’ve Monuments

By Anne James At the BOH Cameronian Arts Awards 2003 last year, sitting next to Ghafir Akbar, a fellow nominee for the Best Solo Performer, I was preparing myself to, basically, not win. So when my name was announced, I didn’t hear it at first. I only realised it when my husband Siva turned towards […]

Eyes Wide Open

By Alfian Sa’at Sepet: to possess single eyelids, or used pejoratively, slit-eyed. The condition of being slit-eyed sometimes goes beyond its physical designations to enforce racial stereotypes. The sepet person is associated with certain personality traits: either a shifty inscrutability (you can’t read the person’s eyes), or handicapped by narrow-­mindedness (surely someone with eyes like […]


By Phang Kuan Hoang A couple of cute infant Chinese Lions were brought inside the concert hall at the end of an MPO Family Fun Day series concert titled A Chinese New Year Celebration. They emerged from the exits near the stage and gradually trotted their way to the main galleria, playfully interacting with the […]

Polis & Negro

By Amir Muhammad Tahun 2005, tibalah masanya untuk episod ketiga daripada rentetan layar lebar Gerak Khas, yang dimulakan pada tahun 2001 dan disusuli pada 2002. Walaupun jarak antara episod kedua dan ketiga tidaklah sejauh jarak antara The Godfather Part II dan The Godfather Part III (16 tahun) namun banyak juga yang telah berlaku di persada […]

To Bitch or Not to Bitch

By Jit Murad In the current spirit of fulsome, if not full, disclosure I should admit to a couple of things. First is that Faridah Merican had originally cast me as Hamlet in this play but during rehearsals we had a heated disagreement over padded leotards and Gavin Yap immediately swooped in to replace me. […]

Royal Charmer

By Chacko Vadaketh “My daughter will only wear local Malaysian clothes, calls me ‘Bapa’ and wants to move here!” With that the tall, handsome Harry Connick, Jr. had everyone at the press conference in the palm of his hand. He certainly made an impression, arriving on time, looking comfortable and relaxed in a well worn […]

There’s A Kind of Hush

By Khoo Gaik Cheng Ho Yuhang’s Sanctuary, which had garnered a Special Mention at last year’s Pusan International Film Festival, distinguishes itself from mainstream cinema in many ways: minimal dialogue, slow pace and almost humdrum nature, seeming lack of suspense and seeming absence of narrative drive. ‘Seeming’ is the keyword here as it is all […]

Elastic Reality

By Sharaad Kuttan Nicely shot, simply told, Chemman Chaalai, is a must see for all those interested in the many directions that Malaysian ‘indie’ films are taking. Billed as a “Malaysian Indian Story” this movie is simple but badly paced, beautiful but lacking emotional or psychological depth. The rather po-faced protagonist’s struggle for education and […]

Si Pelarian dan Si Penderma

By Mislina Mustaffa Hannah & Hanna. Kedua-duanya remaja 16 tahun. Usia yang ingin keluar dari kepompong rutin keluarga. Usia di mana persahabatan adalah alternatif kebersamaan yang sangat penting. Dan usia yang kritikal dalam pembentukan psikologi dan sahsiah diri. Hannah dan Hanna bertemu dalam kekalutan pencarian identiti. Hanna, si pelarian Kosovo ingin mencari tempat berlindung untuk […]

Adrenalin Meluap

By Remin Noir Suasana pada petang 8 januari yang lalu di depan kelab Hard Rock Cafe terasa berbeza dari petang hari-hari yang lain. Udara petang terasa panas walau kadang keadaan bertukar redup buat satu waktu. Suasana redup yang sekadar sebentar memang memberi perlindungan yang baik buat ramai peminat yang beratur panjang di depan Hard Rock […]

Jingle All The Way

By Chan Siew Lian David Gomes & Junji Delfino – It’s Christmas Time Again Every December, a condition known as jingleitis afflicts me. It starts with a visit to the mall, and is severely exacerbated by tonally malfunctioning carollers. Symptoms include cold sweat, nausea, shortness of breath, migraine and tinnitus. It was with trepidation then […]

Strangled Carmen

By Pia Zain & Simon Hegarty Bizet’s music is transcendent. Once you have seen and heard Carmen, you can never forget it. It gets under your skin, haunting with the resonance of emotion. Music that hurts the soul with its purity and passion. We went to see Bizet’s Carmen, staged by the Penang Arts Council […]

Sing It, Mean It!

By Zedeck Siew Last weekend my chamber choir performed an enactment of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a traditional Christian service format. We were asked, recently, if we wanted to participate in the upcoming December 25th Christmas Open House at the field opposite Amcorp Mall. A Malaysia Open House happens for six major […]


By Pang Khee Teik Again, many are shaking their heads at the dismal state of theatre this year. Nevermind the bad ticket sales, but where are the new original works? I missed Gavin Yap’s Wish I Were There and Life… Sdn Bhd 2, but managed to catch the three below, all original scripts in English […]

Super Tweety

By Mislina Mustaffa Sinopsis persembahan ini memang epik. Inilah cubaan saya untuk meringkasnya: Ptuih! (nama protagonis) yang rebel bertengkar dengan bapak dan dihalau keluar. Helium Si Gas Nadir, abang Ptuih! yang sedikit autisme mengikut Ptuih! hingga ke stesen transit. Ptuih! merupakan bagai Superman kepada Helium, yang sentiasa memeluk patung Tweety. Helium memujuk Ptuih! supaya tidak […]

The Sound of New Music

By Dr Valerie Ross Congratulations Chong Kee Yong – here’s to even greater compositional heights and more Starry Nights! One of the most compelling experiences of attending an event such as the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, International Composers Award (Nov 27, 2004, at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas), must be the privilege of hearing first-hand the actual voices […]

Notes from Underground

By Toni Kasim In Dramalab’s restaging of Huzir Sulaiman’s The Smell of Language and Notes on Life and Love and Painting, Zahim Albakri embodied two obnoxious characters in a way that really appealed to my tastebuds – never quite deciding whether I liked the pompous duo but never quite detesting them either. In painting life […]

Australia Boleh

By Zedeck Siew The cello’s left rib edge can scar one’s inner left thigh, as I found out while playing with an amateur youth orchestra. Its extendable steel spike is sometimes detachable and useful for the cellist on foot who is afraid of stray dogs. Women were once discouraged from playing the cello due to […]

The Political Artist

By Carmen Nge If Wong Hoy Cheong’s exhibition at the National Art Gallery had kept to its original opening date – September 2003 – his response to the sacking and arrest of Anwar and the judicial misconduct that followed would have taken on an entirely different tone. Anwar would still be in jail; it would […]

Cruelty to Audiences

By Pang Khee Teik The World is a Comedy for Those who Think… Instant Café Theatre Road Show Presented by Instant Café Theatre Oct 27 -28, 2004, Grand Plaza Parkroyal Fifteen years of laughter packed into one night can be tiring to the jaw. After the dinner at the hotel Ballroom was cleared away and […]

Bombs and Books

By Lucy Friedland The program for the first Ubud Writers and Readers Festival from October 11-17 seemed overly ambitious. The web site was touting Australian-Balinese healing for the first day, ‘How to Write a Novel in 20 Minutes’ for the second day, and activist strategies for Indonesia’s AIDS epidemic by Day 7. In between, the […]

Empire Writes Back

By Jerome Kugan Dear Mumsy, You wouldn’t believe some of the things I’ve seen here in the big city. KL-ites (as they’re not so fond of calling themselves) are always on the move, always crossing each other’s paths, dredging up some kind of muddy puddle – just like the city’s namesake! And I’m caught up […]

Five for Fighting

By Lim How Ngean The week-long national Malay Language theatre festival that filled the auditorium at Malaysian Tourism Centre last month to the brim has had a long history that dates back to the 70s. Organised by the then Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the event was formerly known as Pesta Tarian dan Drama […]

Nakhoda Tergoda

By Hasmi Hashim Katakanlah, pameran Bakat Muda Sezaman, macam nyanyian merdu dewi laut itu. Kerana tidak mahu tergoda, demi cinta Penelope, Ulysses mengarahkan kelasinya, mengikat dia ke tiang agung. Nyanyian merdu dewi laut akan terus memerangkap setiap kapal yang lalu, dan kepada nakhoda yang tergoda akan lekas-lekas pula mengembangkan layar menuju ke arah suara. Akhirnya […]

Malaysian Graffiti

By Kam Raslan Questionnaires were handed out at the door. Then the lights went down, a broken air-con rattled like an old movie projector and oxygen levels gradually dipped. For the next two hours we saw slices of Malaysiana, journeys through India and Australia, views on arranged marriages, Arab ancestry in Singapore and the search […]

Public Hangings

By Yelena Gluzman Galeri Petronas Many people I have spoken to say that the Malaysian art scene is in some or all ways “lacking”, and this perceived lack interests me. I am a foreigner and, as such, I view and react to Malaysian art with the tentativeness of an outsider. But I think it is […]

Poetry In Motion

By Prof Dr Mohd Anis Md Nor Joseph Gonzales’s Choreography: A Malaysian Perspective is the first local publication on Choreographic discourse on Malaysian dance that is written by a Malaysian and dedicated to readers in Malaysia and abroad. It is certainly refreshing and invigorating to know that an indigenous writer who is well known in […]

Enema of the Suburbs

By Vanessa Surian I am tempted to meander on in a pretentious manner about things we already know about the local music scene: Lack of support, the indifference, blah blah blah. But it’s harder not to dismiss the bands as victims of their circumstance and just talk about the evening as is. It was a […]

The Prophet’s Descendant and The Mystery Woman

By Shanon Shah Given the level of what passes for popular discussion on literature in this country, I am all for efforts to make literature accessible to a wider, especially younger, audience. I remember the days when I had to read Arena Wati, A. Samad Said and Usman Awang for my Kertas Kefahaman Bahasa Malaysia. […]

You Talkin’ To Me?

By Pang Khee Teik Toh Hai Leong, a Singaporean film critic, is highly annoying, and not just because he is Singaporean. If you inadvertently acknowledge him, he will talk incessantly at you, not with you. Once, thinking he wouldn’t notice, I turned my back. He immediately ranted, “You young ones, don’t be so big shot. […]

Angry Ghosts Festival

By Kelvin K. Wong Having been disappointed by two out of three plays from The Actors Studio’s Malaysian Playwright Series, I admit to being quite sceptical about the fourth instalment. Gavin Yap, who pioneered the series with his not-that-sweet Sweet Nothing, has just staged his second play at The Actors Studio Bangsar (Sep 2 – […]

Tumpang Glamour

By Fiona Lee It was with mixed feelings of pride and nostalgia that I attended three Malaysian film screenings at the 27th Asian-American International Film Festival in New York City. From July 16 to 24, New Yorkers had the opportunity to view a sampling of works by Malaysian independent filmmakers, which were showcased alongside other […]