Monday, January 25, 2010

Playing with issues

Rumah Anak Teater insists that theatre is a good platform to enlighten society on political and social matters

Bissme S. (Sun2Surf)

LOCAL theatre is now examining doomsday issues like the destruction of our environment and the ‘impending’ end of the world. One such production is Tanda, produced under the banner of Rumah Anak Teater (RAT).

Shahili Abdan, better known as Nam Ron, is one of the six directors of Tanda and he has his reasons for coming up with this production. He feels greed is the main culprit for the degradation of the environment.

“The human race is so busy chasing material wealth that they’ve forgotten their obligation to look after Mother Earth,” says Nam Ron, who is also a part-time lecturer at the Akademi Seni Budaya Dan Warisan Kebangsaan (Aswara) in Kuala Lumpur, where the 20-member play will be staged from Feb 2 to 7.

Nam Ron established RAT two years ago to provide a platform for young ­artistes to express themselves. It is a fact the Nam Ron and his associates are an outspoken and radical lot and they are known for their plays with strong ­political and social overtones.

The 41-year-old theatre activist is quick to defend RAT’s productions. “Is it wrong to stage plays that have such ­elements? We cannot deny that politics and social issues shape the world, society and our lives. I want to put up plays that make people think about issues that are affecting them.”

But can theatre be ­powerful enough to change society for the better?

Nam Ron is confident it can, but he points out: “I’m not here to reform ­anyone. I’m not a moralist.

As an artiste, I just want to raise some questions in the open. In the end, the people have to decide whether they want to change or remain the same.”

He insists that what he is doing is not very different from what journalists are doing. “You also raise issues when you write. You use the print medium to achieve that while I use the stage,” he tells the press.

He also dismisses talk that he is anti-politicians, saying that politicians are important people but they should always put the people’s interests first.

“A politician’s duty is to serve his people and help to give them a better life. If the people in this country are ­earning a minimum wage of RM500, then ­politicians should be earning less. They should be leading a simple and humble life.”

Unfortunately, he laments, many ­people these days go into politics with the sole purpose of leading an easy life. “They are attracted by the big ­allowances and salaries. They want to become ‘celebrities’ and live in big houses. This is not only happening in Malaysia but everywhere in the world.”

His colleague, Fared Ayam, a co-­director of Tanda, is also somewhat of a ‘rebel’ and shares Nam Ron’s penchant for stage productions that highlight social and political issues.

Fared says he quit his studies in ­marine engineering to pursue his ­passion for theatre. “The only setback about being in theatre is that we don’t earn a fixed ­income and I often have to tighten my belt.

“Sometimes, I feel downcast as my friends who are marine engineers are leading a comfortable life.

Then I tell myself that life is not only about ­making money and living a luxurious lifestyle,” says Fared, who has a diploma in theatre directing.

He feels he is making a significant contribution by highlighting issues that are affecting society.

He says: “The true path is ­always the difficult road. If the road you’ve taken is an easy one, then ­something is wrong.”

He strongly believes that theatre has the power to change society for the better, adding that history has proven this.

“But I never preach to my audience. I just raise the questions and let my ­audiences find their own solutions.”

For tickets for Tanda, call 012-239 5209 or 012-919 3839 or send email to

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