Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Singapore was a blast.

Singapore was a big part of my life for a while, during my school years and earlier. I would stop overnight there on the way back from Perth to Kota Kinabalu. Sometimes when my family and I travelled, we would stop over in Singapore this time of year and marvel at the Christmas lights (Perth had nothing on Singapore in this regard).

Once I moved to KL, I began to look down on Singapore with disdain. She was too clean, too ordered, so attached to her colonial past, barely asian. Now, after visiting Singapore twice in two months (having not visited since about 2000), her cleanliess, prettiness, attachment to her history and yet worldliness, is strangely intoxicating. Everywhere you turn, she is pretty, in a restrained kind of way. She is like a setimental teenager. No one can tel her what to do, she has a terrible temper, and yet she clings to the way things were. She loves the comfort of the past, though she'll never let it lead her.

We went to watch PGL, and because we were there for arty reasons, we began to notice arty things. The Esplanade, where we went for the show, had an art installation in the concourse area, a live malay musical show, an art gallery open and attended, PGL itself, plus shopping mall, cafes and pubs, live jazz music and upcoming shows, and infromation pamphlets. Everyone is interested in the arts. For whatever reasons they go to participate, the arts community is a living breathing thing, not quite the semi-growing, stunted-in-places arts scene that is Kuala Lumpur's.

I'd say the most growth we are seeing is in the film and theatre industry, but our audience is still lacking in the sense that we are getting lots of support from the same people, and very little interest from the general public. It' still kind of closed. Not elitist, because we all want more people to come and enjoy our work. I guess it's apathy, or at least, a lack of understanding about how important experiencing cultural and artistic expression is.

Anyway, on to PGL. We saw it Saturday afternoon, and totally loved it of course! AC Mizal recognised us in the audience and we spent a lot of time waving to each other and the rest of the cast. Later that evening, we were invited to the cast party, which was populated with loads of society girls and guys. We arrived just before midnight and the cast arrived almost an hour and a half later, by which time we were bored brainless. However, after all the catching up, things got better, including the DJ's music selection, which finally began to include melodies. Then we were dancing, and AC, Afdlin and Stephen began a rather amusing dance-off with each other. Finally, we were tired and left just as the party seemed to be getting started. Still on a high, hubby boo and I wondered if we could get ourselves more tickets to the last show. We were suposed to return to KL the next day but decided there was too much fun to be had. Hubby boo called AC, who called some one else and, blss him, managed to get us backstage passes!!!

We got to watch the show from the box right next to the stage, which meant that when Adipati rumbled Patin about Demak, we got to see the sweat on AC's arms and the fire in his eyes. It was magical. From the moment the curtain went up, I got a bit choked up. Seeing the dancers in the prologue, watching Adipati stride on and off, then Gusti Puteri as she came forward and sang with the rest of the troupe... I felt every single being on stage was committed to the moment. Every hand that reached to heaven, I could see the sinews stretching. Every face that looked up, I could see the sorrow and the straining of emotions. I was literally on the verge of tears, because I believe there is no place in the world where you will get the most honest expression of the self and humanity, without it being real life. That's how important theatre is to me, how supreme a mirror of ourselves it is to me.

And also, I am a sentimental git and also chuffed that I got to sit 3 metres from the stage!

When Bayan laments at the end of Act 1, oh, she killed me. She looked up, and immediately the tears fell from her face. Me and hubby boo started sniffling, it was so very touching. Then in Act Two, we got to see how sweaty Hang Tuah gets after dancing sleeveless in the forest (I am sure this impressed me more than hubby boo). And we could actually hear his voice from the stage as he sang his solo (the best song in stage musical history and way too short if you ask me) - that's how strong those lungs are. Can one be married and be in love with someone else's voice? I mean, is that right? I tell myself it's okay. After all, hubby boo did surprise me with his recorder, and I managed to get over it!

So, coming back to KL was a bit sad, especially waking up this morning to the mess of our luggage. The fact htat it's raining now is helping but the sense of being down needs the solace of friends and lights and atmosphere.

So I am looking forward to our official wrap party for Sumolah! tomorrow night. This is for our sponsors and the press and will be featuring the first official viewing of our teaser trailer. Hopefully, it will be in theatres soon..



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