Five years ago, a one-woman play took the Open Category of the 24-Hour Playwriting Competition by storm with its hilarious, truthful and heartbreaking depiction of a Singaporean mother. Serunding was a 40-minute play which spoke in words beyond its author’s years — then 23-year old National Institute of Education undergraduate Ahmad Musta’ain Bin Khamis.
Described as a “makcik” play, Serunding revolves around proud Muslim homemaker Safiah. Her relationship with her children and mother-in-law (‘Sofea Jane’) are slightly complicated, and this is conveyed to audiences through “humour, food and many phone calls”.
Ahmad Musta’ain’s play reaches Malaysian shores for the very first time — five years after its first competition win — on 12 December at Black Box, Publika. Directed by Lim Yu-Beng (who many will remember as one of the Singaporeans from W!ld Rice‘s Another Country) and starring Aidli Mosbit once again, the play will be performed twice next Saturday.
Known to many simply as Alin, award-winning Singaporean writer, actress and theatre-maker Aidli Mosbit has been performing in Serunding since it’s first staging in 2010; her bond with Safiah is reminiscent of Pearlly Chua‘s affinity for Emerald Hill.
Next to it’s playwright, perhaps nobody knows the play as well as Alin.
Through her many telephone conversations, she shows off to us the amazing life she has with her husband, Sadikin and her two children, Syahid and Suraya. If she was on Facebook and Instagram, her hourly status updates would tell us about what she’s cooking, her favourite TV shows, the cakes and cookies she bakes and her shared postings will be about “20 Things You Need To Know About Successful Parenting” and the like.
But at the core of it all, Safiah is a flawed human, like all of us. That, to me is the appeal of Serunding. Safiah and her vulnerabilities; trying to keep a brave front while having her daughter desert her touches me, personally.
The unique, English-language play provides a cheeky snapshot of modern Singaporean Malay culture and was described as a “spicy sweet expression of a Singaporean family caught at the centre of cultural values and modern living” by Singaporean art blog Culturepush.
Hear playwright Ahmad Musta’ain’s own words on the play from this brief but excellent interview with non-profit Singaporean theatre company Theatreworks.
Serunding will premiere next Saturday, 12 December at 10:15am to participants of Bicara Titian Budaya, and at 8:30pm to members of the public. As with most other stagings of Serunding, admission to both performances (as well as Bicara Titian Budaya) is free.
Bicara Titian Budaya is a free admission platform taking place on 12 December 2o15 but due to limited space, participation is on a first-come-first-serve basis. Seat reservation can be made via Eventbrite. Early registrants will receive one complimentary ticket to Titian Budaya Night at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas on 8 December 2015 (for the first 30 registrants) and be in the running to win one complimentary pass (admits 2 pax) to Art Stage Singapore from 21 – 24 January 2016 or SingJazz Festival in March 2016. Enquiries can be addressed to My Performing Arts Agency firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / +603 6207 9566.