Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A SLAP 4 UR' FACE! : Manifesto of a MALAYSIA Theater Student

Manifesto of a MALAYSIA Theater Student

Theater is everywhere in the world, & is absolutely popular in the west. Those who took acting courses there have a guaranteed future because actors can act in theaters and there will be people who are willing to buy tickets to watch the show. However, theater in Malaysia is still so new and rare; some even DON’T know what a play or theater is! Many, especially the younger generation, would RATHER go to the cinema than to watch a play. They couldn’t understand what the point is buying tickets that are not cheap to watch a few actors they don’t know in a small black box. As for in film, there are violence, sex, stardom, etc. which are more aggressive and completed with magnificent sound & graphic effects. WE don’t have these in theater as theater is a different kind of performance. In theater, one sees what human actually does in real life & the audience can really feel different feelings that the actors filled in the atmosphere of the ‘black box’. This is a very rewarding experience as we don’t get to share such tragic or comedy in real life that comes from a stranger; the actor.

However, this is MALAYSIA. People pay ONLY when they wanted something they want. People are SELFISH. People do NOT understand. People do NOT want to change. People love to be in the safe zone. People just like to show off. So, why must they pay to understand other people lives? Since WE are selfish, why must WE pay to know a made up story that is so made up to look like it really happened in real life? WE have other better things to do. WE are only busy bodies who only care about REAL stories that REALLY happen around us. Furthermore, WE love to be ourselves, and WE don’t like things that can change ourselves. WE don’t like sensitive issues and WE love to remain in the safe zone rather than going to those ‘dangerous places’ that theater brings us to. WE don’t want to feel the fear of death now; WE just want to enjoy life first. There are many things that the society say WE should or should NOT know or do. These are the real rules of life.

Besides, WE only like to have a bit of everything. Everything is a mixture and ‘rojak’ in MALAYSIA; a bit of India, a bit of China, a bit of the Europeans, and lots of bit from the USA and UK. So, WE got different cultures and this includes theater from all around the world, but WE don’t want to really specialize in any of these. WE just want to have a bit of everything to show that WE have what the entire whole world has, but WE are just too lazy to make them work. Most MALAYSIAN who goes to the black boxes just wanted to show that they have money to go watch such shows, they are NOT that understanding to search the meaning of life from theater anyway. This is just their internal problem because NO one actually knows WHO afford to pay to watch infamous actors perform, except for YOURSELF.

What can theater really give in this country; either to the community or WE, the theater students? What FUTURE does it provide? When can it make things REALLY happen? 30 years? 50 years? 100 years? Why, are WE to wait? What’s that WE can do to success in this industry? And why are WE here now since WE knew the fact? Malaysia has NOTHING to offer yet in this industry. So what if WE have Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC)? That is a great start to encourage the society going to theaters, but when can that succeed? WE do things halfway, WE can afford a building for that, but WE can’t afford anything big other than that to make it work! So what if WE, who wants to make things happen, BUT the others are NOT cooperative to move at all?

There are actually lots of things WE can do. If a play is put up, and the actors are not famous enough, why can’t THEY use some rehearsal time to move around to publish THEIR own play since this is MALAYSIA, NOT USA? Don’t YOU know YOU have to work harder then? But since they are MALAYSIANS, that’s why they don’t. IF they do, people who know them will definitely buy the tickets for their show because WE, MALAYSIANS, only help people WE know. Even if it is just to pay and not going to watch it, WE, from the middle class can do that to ‘help’. Even though WE do that because WE just want to help and not to enjoy the show, at least WE buy the tickets for them! If WE are very rich, WE’d rather use the money for OURSELVES if WE don’t even know who in the world YOU are. The director can speak more rather than being a bossy head and relying on others to help him because most MALAYSIANS are NOT reliable. It is always better to rely on YOURSELF than the others. Blame us NOT because we are MALAYSIANS! Can’t you see?

Accept the fact. WE are NOT going to change in any way. We need plenty of time to do so, so need not wait! WE love films, WE love TV, and WE love the cinema. WE love actions, WE love aggressiveness, WE love sex, & WE love violence. WE love to see these, people! This is YOU, a REAL MALAYSIAN! ACCEPT it. If YOU ask us, ‘where is the love?’ This is where OUR love goes, NOT the theater. Besides, WE love discounts. WE love cheap and useful things, NOT expansive but useless stuff. So, WE love the cinema as it’s only RM7 – RM10 and it is usually a MORE rewarding experience than a RM18 – RM80 play. Compare J Lo’s ‘Shall We Dance?’ with Malaysia’s this year play; ‘Monkey Business’ and Tom Cruise’s ‘War of the Worlds’ with Edwin Sumun’s last year’s; ‘Sumunda’. Accept the fact. There’s NO way YOU can runaway. MALAYSIA’s theater sucks!

If YOU were to ask US why WE are here then, let ME tell YOU that it’s because WE are MALAYSIAN. WE “Just Do It” and WE don’t even know which way WE are going. Ask US what do WE want to be; an actor, director, script writer? WE can’t give YOU an answer. Even if WE can, it would be a mixture of either both; because WE NEVER really specializes in something. Our life, language, culture, EVERYTHING, is ‘rojak’. WE don’t know what WE want as WE just do what WE feel like doing. Whether WE success or not, is another MALAYSIAN issue. So just accept US for who WE are because WE are fated to be like that. That’s what makes US so special from the others and WE LOVE to be MALAYSIANS.