Monday, November 9, 2009
The Malaysian Theatre
I'm not much of a theatre goer before. But after watching shows like The Siamese Twin ( the name was different) a long time ago, then Puteri Gunung Ledang, P. Ramlee the Musical, and Cuci the Musical just a few days ago, all staged at Istana Budaya, I think we're now moving towards the era of theatrical performance closer to the standard of The Cats, Les Miserables,The Westside Story etc. You certainly don't feel the pinch in your pocket coughing out a few hundred ringgit, when the show really gives you and your family members a good moral and aesthetical experience. Cuci the Musical had us all in stitches while the
moral of the story came accross very forcefully though couched in humour and bone-tickling ad libs.
I can see that Malaysians of all denominations are also becoming more theatre savvy. No more rows of empty seats like before.
Perhaps they are getting a little tired or saturated by the TV and the celluloids. Don't want to comment on the quality of the shows on TV at his point but the modern ' TV dramas' are certainly becoming more and more streotyped, giving us more of the same every night. What I wonder is whether 'going to the theatre' means something more to the Malaysians than going to the cinema, We hear of people dressing up for the theatre in the western countries, like going to the Ball or some exotic functions.Even to attend wedding ceremonies. That seems to make the difference to me. There's more in going to the theatre than to the cinema. In the theatre we can see and admire the audience, their special dress and plumes, their ornaments and ostentations. Hey, in the west bachelors can even survey the crop of young ladies with cultural taste and social standing in the theatre. Are we into this yet or do the bachelors prefer to pick up their future partners at the clubs and socials, the supermarkets and the shopping malls?
But one thing I found out with a shock from my theatre going experience is that the bad road-side manners of Malaysians can be carried over to the theatre's parking lot or its vicinity. In out haste to get into the theatre on time, cars are double or triple parked, one behind the other and beside each other. After the show the owner of the car which came first has no way of getting out until the other cars are moved away.. But the owners don't bother to hurry up, and in the malady that I faced, he (or she) didn't show up even after 20 minutes. It was drizzling and we just could not get out until a few cars around us moved away. The one behind us remained there even after we succeeded in getting out by making several liitle turns, guided by people getting wet in the drizzle.
My son was really furious over the lack of concern for other people and wanted to leave behind a good scratch mark on the offending car or just smash a window, loosen the handbrake and push it away onto the middle of the road. It took some effort to cool him down, inspite of the drizzle. Some of us really don't care about others when driving or parking our cars. I wonder if this habit will ever change, like our attitude towards the theatre.
Yeah, the theatre can really teach us something or more importantly reflect some of our undesireable behavior like refusing to clap our hands at the end of a scene, talking loudly while the show is on, refusing to stand up to allow others to get to seats deeper in the row, rushing out at the end of the show knocking others like tenpins etc. In the carpark, double or tripple parking is one thing. But not moving your car away quickly after the show is another.
It appears that the cinema-show culture is being carried over by many Malaysians to the theatre. If this doesn't change I think places like Istana Budaya will soon become like the usual cinema hall where the dim light and total darkness do not give any credit to dressing well and a cultured behavior.