Zombies. They were a hit in our media, especially the last decade. From Resident Evil to The Walking Dead, it was once a must have character in every fantasy media. Even our very own Mamat Khalid had a pick on it with his 2007 Zombi Kampung Pisang. This time around, theatre otai Khairunazwan Rodzy himself has put up a full length theatre play on zombies. Could it be a tribute to the late Dolores O’ Riordan? Who knows. But what we know for sure is that it is a fun way to showcase the work of his theatre workshop’s students.
Zombi: Kehidupan Fasa Enam is part of the “practice” showcase for the students of Khairunazwan’s First Time Workshop (FTW) programme, a 6 months theatre programme for new and beginner actors. Now in its 3rd month, it looks like the students have completed the ensemble work module, as seen in their roles in Zombi: Kehidupan Fasa Enam, in which they all played, well, the zombies.
As such, that is what the show had served us. Zombi: Kehidupan Fasa Enam follows main character Kalid, played by Surnia Fizul, as he goes on a journey to look for his long lost parents in a zombie apocalypse. When they aren’t trying to eat Kalid, the students of FTW are also part of the sets and physical movements that told the story. Some of the actors (I guess, the better students) who got the side characters roles will be involved in dialogues and mini scenes. There were also singing – a couple solos, and a chorus that ended the play.
What’s interesting is that all this happened on the small little stage of Revolution Stage (which is about the size of a little living room, if you haven’t been there), with 26 actors on stage. We are not sure which one came first: the zombie story idea, or the 26 actors, but it was a smart move by director/writer Khairunadzwan to make it an enjoyable students showcase. The packed stage forced the actors to learn to work their space on stage, as well as to mind the space of their co actors. A good way to learn, I must say. Imagine all the sweat the actors are sharing. Such is the intimacy of theatre.
Although obviously under rehearsed, the students looked like they are having a lot of fun, and all of them could be seen giving in their best efforts. Answering to a question by an audience member, one student, Own, (who is actually a long time child actor, now an adult) said “he is ashamed to have called himself an actor” after learning from the workshop. Another, John Hafiz, said he “didn’t think (he) could do this 2 months ago”.
As for the story, it is a cliched, typical zombie story plotline. I must note though that the usage of music, singing, and the whole “cinta kasih dan sayang” theme throughout the play did romanticise the story a bit. Thus, making it rather Malay in its dramatization- which, in this case is not necessarily a bad thing. Zombi + drama Melayu? That is Malay theatre saying, “We can go physical too, but in our own way.”
Featured image via Zikry Rashid.