“Putting up plays in Malaysia, you’re really mostly putting up plays for your friends. It’s a syiok sendiri* production.”
syiok sendiri – full of it…more like, pleasing yourself.
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
But so true. I’ve been thinking about it for the past few weeks and even voicing out my concern to one of my family members. My aunt shrugged, she said that it’s typical of new productions. Build a reputation for themselves and then you’ll get somewhere.
Thing is, the more I go forward the less I’m sure that this is what I want. Honestly, when I started this production, I really had one goal in my mind. I wanted to encourage people who don’t usually go to theatre, people who find it either too intimidating and too boring to come. I wanted to find people like me, who want to have a good time at the theatre, and not to learn something.
There’s a reason why I like Phantom of The Opera and read trashy novels about an alternate world where Harry Potter gets kicked out of school and becomes a PI. They don’t try and teach me anything. The Phantom is not about to spout long speeches on how race relations in Malaysia is fraught. “Come Christine, let me explain to you how music can unite the races of Malaysia and how we should all learn that we’re bangsa Malaysia.”
“But gee, Monsieur Phantom, all I really want to do is learn to sing. You’re the Angel of Music. You’re not really working with PKR are you? If you are, I should just go. I really couldn’t be arsed to vote this year.”
“Child! It is statements like these that merely serves to highlight the abominable state our country is in! Learning to sing, such trivialities! Song and dance on its own without a cause is like cake without frosting. Irrelevant.”
Sheila pointed out that my aim, noble as it may seem (alright, I added in the nobility bit on my own), it’s like hitting your head against a brick wall (an analogy that I tend to associate with producing a play), ”
Your problem is that you’re trying to convert people who don’t read,” Sheila pointed out. “Look around us,” she said, her arms sweeping across Starbucks. “How many people are reading?”
I pointed out the man behind her was sitting down and patiently perusing through a property magazine. Somehow it doesn’t count.
Sheila shrugged. “It’s not just their fault you know. A trashy novel is RM 30. That’s a lot of money for people. When people have to choose between books and food, what do you think they’re going to pick?”
Is it really? Are plays something so elitist that the average person out there finds it too pretentious and boring to attend? That maybe our shows don’t relate to the masses. The kids who watch films at the cinema, they’re the same kids I want to try and win over. Let them see that theatre, film, TV, they’re all just mediums for a good story. And that people should be able to come and watch anything that is just good without feeling intimidated. That we as producers of theatre, TV or films, we respect the audience and that we want to tell a good story to entertain.
Or am I being too naive in hoping for something like this?