Opportunistic? Courageous? Whatever you make of Anomalist Production‘s next performance, there’s no denying that it is indeed timely.
We say timely because look at the state of the nation. We’ve witnessed a lot more than usual race politics over the past few months which has of course widened the tolerance gap, and we’ve since had extremists splashing red paint on cardboard figures (grow up fellas, you’re all like 40 years old).
Thankfully, the urban youth seem immune and as a result, we have young theatre-makers Anomalist Production trying to educate the masses with a bit of performing arts instead. BANGSA: Anak Kecil Main Api is an upcoming stage play by the insanely hardworking team from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and boy, do we have a lot to tell you about it.
First up, as the title of the play suggests, yes guys, this is indeed going to be about race.
Back when we first heard about BANGSA, we thought it could potentially be highly controversial. Based on early information, the Khairi Anwar-penned script seemed to be centered around semangat Melayu and it all sounded like it was going to attract some strong reactions. Now we have the team’s press release and we must say; this could potentially be very, very good.
BANGSA begins way back in time, specifically on the 13th of May, 1969. Kudos guys for daring to even go there!
Malik and Sarah are at the Odeon Cinema with their close friends, Abdullah and Aminah. As a consequence of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, Malik and Abdullah get their throats slit by a group of Chinese gangsters. Sarah and Aminah however are saved by a Chinese couple who sends them home safely.
Sarah’s traumatised child Manan grows to be wary of folks of other ethnicities, holding tightly onto history and experience in his crusade for Malay solidarity. He chooses to dismiss all other ethnic groups of the region and looks down upon Malays who convene with members of other races.
Aminah’s son Rizal however ends up adopting a different approach, choosing to take lessons from history and prioritising tolerance. Both Manan and Rizal become fast friends, and Manan eventually marries Rizal’s sister, Nadia.
BANGSA is a stage play that spans three generations. Revolving around the lives of Manan and Rizal, the play explores its protagonists’ hopes and dreams for the Malay race as they progress through the years.
According to writer/director Khairi (who’s also managing director at Anomalist Production!) inspiration came from his mother who used to serve as a political journalist. He’s also a big supporter of ex-prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and this manifests in his writing, in which he tries to depict the struggles of the Malay race without making things political.
“Tun Mahathir pernah berkata, beliau mampu mengubah banyak perkara dalam Malaysia, tetapi suatu perkara yang tidak mampu diubahnya adalah mentaliti orang Melayu,” Khairi states.
“Saya percaya, melalui seni persembahan dan teater, mentaliliti orang Melayu mampu untuk dicorak dan tidak mustahil diubah kearah pemerkasaan bangsa yang lebih proaktif dan positif.”
We at The Daily Seni are extremely interested to see how Anomalist Production handles a potentially sticky subject matter like this. Whether or not they succeed, it must be acknowledged that for a new theatre group in town these guys are definitely ballsy.
Anomalist Production was last on stage with the enigmatic Skrip Untuk Ali back in May. They’ve been doing quite impressively over the past year and BANGSA marks their biggest-scale production to date. We think it’s also their first performance held in a professional performing arts venue, so good luck guys.
Look out for BANGSA: Anak Kecil Main Api when it opens in a week’s time!
BANGSA: Anak Kecil Main Api will run at 8:30pm (with additional 3:30pm shows on Saturday and Sunday) from 18 – 20 September at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC). Tickets are RM35 and RM28 (students), and you can get them by dialling up +6017 938 6764 and asking for Hanisah Othman or by calling +6014 263 7010 and talking to Deja. Don’t miss it, guys!