In this Age of Technology, we need to hit our reset button and find ways of reminding us that we are humans who need understanding and empathy. Theatre is one such vital aid. It reminds us of the importance of sitting together and listening. The Power of Storytelling is immense.In this Age of Technology, we need to hit our reset button and find ways of reminding us that we are humans who need understanding and empathy. Theatre is one such vital aid. It reminds us of the importance of sitting together and listening. The Power of Storytelling is immense.
The Instant Café Theatre Company began in 1989 with a mission to make theatre for all Malaysians and to tell Malaysian stories that resonated with all sectors of society. From the start the company was committed to being multiracial, multicultural and inclusive, rejecting the politics of race and division and calling for a more open, tolerant inclusive civil society. Using humour and storytelling it urged Malaysians to come together collectively to find our common voice and honour our shared stories. Through various writing platforms it created either through the ICT revues or its early writing arm Dramalab (today its own independent theatre company) or to its award winning FIRSTWoRKS program and ALMOST TRUE STORIES platform Instant Café constantly created avenues to tell new Malaysian stories and forums and exchanges to provoke new writing. Today it continues to push for diversity, inclusion and understanding and champion stories and outlooks that embrace these values.
As part of ICT’s Anniversary Program, ICT is staging a play; Gold Rain and Hailstones by Jit Murad. Gold Rain and Hailstones was first staged in 1993 and was hailed as a Malaysian classic. Telling the story of 4 childhood friends reconnecting because of a family illness the play speaks about home and belonging and the importance of friends and family away from things that threaten to overwhelm and divide. Such stories are even more vital today. In today’s fast paced digital age, we can all too often lose sight of the human element in our lives. We stop hearing and listening to each other’s stories. But we need stories to help connect us to each other. In the words of Oscar Wilde:
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being”.
In this Age of Technology, we need to hit our reset button and find ways of reminding us that we are humans who need understanding and empathy. Theatre is one such vital aid. It reminds us of the importance of sitting together and listening. The Power of Storytelling is immense.
Gold Rain and Hailstones is about an outspoken and rebellious Amy who has never felt at home in Malaysia. Now, after spending the last ten years as a career student in America, a family emergency has finally lured her back. As she reconnects with old friends – successful ‘Melayu Baru’ Man, upper-class wife and mother Nina and celebrity make-up and beauty guru Jay – Amy soon discovers that coming home doesn’t necessarily mean you belong. A modern Malaysian classic, Gold Rain and Hailstones by Jit Murad is a hilarious and often poignant tale of home, identity, friendship and family.
Gold Rain explores the idea of home and belonging. The play centres around four friends – Amy, Man, Jay and Nina – all of whom were sent abroad to study at University level. They have all experienced the ‘hujan emas’ or gold rain’ of another country. Now they come home to live with the ‘hujan batu’ or hailstones of home.
At the start of the play, all but one, Amy, have long returned home. Man, Nina and even Jay have learned to live with and enjoy their Malaysian and ‘foreign’ identities with some degree of compromise. But now Amy’s beloved Bapak is dying and Amy hurries home. Amy’s homecoming causes chaos as she annoys, infuriates and frustrates her old friends with her ‘Super Liberal’ opinions and attitudes. She is seen as the ‘outsider’, though as Man concedes “She was Mat-Sallehfied even before she went to the States.” But is she truly the only one who has such liberal leanings? Is she the only one who is troubled by notions of belonging? How does the more conservative Man feel? The outspoken and sarcastic Jay? Nina, who is always trying to do the right thing? What does it mean to be ‘Malaysian’? What does it mean to love your country? How do you accept and love the people range of people in your country? How do you love and accept people very different from yourself? Can you love the hailstones? Can you find acceptance in your difference? Amy must learn that she has to accept the diversity of her childhood friends and the diversity of their outlooks and opinions. For the four childhood friends these are the things they must tackle if they want to remain friends.
This play is very much a story about the importance of asking ourselves these questions.
Amy, Man, Nina and Jay have all chosen very different paths in life but for better or worse their friendship remains. They have history. By telling the story of these four friends, Gold Rain and Hailstones uncovers a wide range of experiences, perspectives and opinions. Amy comes to realises she is not alone in her questions about her identity. All her friends have their own struggles; they share a common uncertainty. Amy comes to understand that her identity is not one fixed thing. It is fluid, adaptable, accepting, evolving. In this way this play will resonate with ALL Malaysians, all of whom for different reasons are still trying to forge their shared Malaysian identity.
Malaysia Baru – Diversity and Inclusion
And that’s what makes this play special right now. At a time when Malaysia is at a new crossroad of history and identity politics, here is a play to remind us about the significance of coming home, of belonging and of accepting others different from ourselves. On May 9 2018 many Malaysians living and working abroad decided to come back to vote. They wanted a say in their country – hailstones and all. And now many Malaysians despite their fears are hopeful of forging a more diverse and inclusive Malaysia.
Through the four main characters – Man, Jay, Nina and Amy – we get to see the different kinds of choices, negotiations and compromises we must ALL make to belong and the impact it has on our lives – regardless of race. All Malaysians have found themselves at some point at some similar crossroad in their lives.
The sharing of this play, Gold Rain and Hailstones, at this particular crossroads of our nation’s history, as we negotiate with each other our ongoing complex narrative of belonging, is more vital than ever before.
Besides the staging of Gold Rain and Hailstones, ICT will also open its anniversary celebration with a play by one of its founding writer/directors’, Jit Murad. His book of plays Jit Murad Plays will be sold in conjunction with the staging of the work.
Jit Murad is a major Malaysian playwright and intellectual and the sharing of his work with a new generation of theatre makers, thinkers, opinion-makers and theatre goers is both necessary and important.
The director Gavin Yap and four actors (Redza Minhat, Sharifah Amani, Farah Rani and Ghafir Akbar) are some of the best and brightest theatre and film personalities with their own loyal following and of course the production is looking forward to full houses and a lot of excitement surrounding this event.
Along with the staging of the play Instant Café is also planning a small Exchange – which will comprise some talkbacks, a writing workshops, film screenings of selected plays, post-show talks and a Masterclass by the playwright.
This is to inspire, train and encourage a new generation of playwrights and engage Malaysian audiences in the creative process of our country.