A new play provides a modern vehicle for an ancient martial art form, writes Zuhaila Sedek
IT is time for silat to look beyond our borders. And it starts with a local theatre project, Silat: Our Heritage For The World, which will be staged at Fort Cornwallis in George Town, Penang on Friday and Saturday.
If successful, organiser Joe Sidek Productions Sdn Bhd, plans to bring it to Kuala Lumpur and then to Singapore and Australia.
A brainchild of Joe (Georgetown Festival 2012 director) and acclaimed filmmaker Saw Teong Hin, Silat is one of the many acts lined up for this year's festival. It will be on opening night.
According to Joe, it is their aim to highlight silat as a martial art form internationally. “This is just the beginning. We came up with the idea after we realised that we did not have any local art forms or cultural performances highlighted for the world to see. We thought silat could be a wonderful start,” he says.
Directed by Saw, the show is expected to wow the crowd because of its uniqueness.
He says: “It is not so much the story line but more the art form that is the focus of the show. We want to feature the many sides of silat - as a performance, not a demonstration. It is about silat being presented in a theatrical way.”
Saw, also director for Puteri Gunung Ledang The Movie, is confident that everyone in the audience will interpret the 45-minute show in his or her own way and says he will let the show speak for itself.
“I researched for months to prepare for the show. I talked to silat masters and from there, I looked at the aspects I could use for the show,” he says, adding that he too has become more acquainted with the martial art form.
To enhance the show, Saw has woven in a story that revolves around the lives of Malay warriors — Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Lekiu, Hang Lekir and Hang Kasturi — who will be played by young performers Muhamad Al Hafiz
Md.Sani (Hang Tuah), Mohd Fazali Sharif (Hang Jebat), Mohd Firdaus Mustapha Kamal (Hang Lekiu), Shahrul Afizam Mohamad (Hang Lekir) and Izzardzafli Padzir (Hang Kasturi). With 25 performers, the show will also feature six silat masters.
“There are no famous actors because the highlight is the martial art itself,” says Saw, who comes from Penang.
With the 14th Century Malay civilisation as the show’s background, the actors will present the various forms of silat as well as the weapons used such as the kris and chindai (sarong used to lock or defend attacks from blades). There will be poems too, specially written for the show by Professor Haji Muhd Salleh as well as some thrilling stunts.
Like any other theatre show, the music is important. Music for the 13 scenes is a fusion of traditional Malay instruments. The music directors are Fish Lim Yun Xin and Christina Wang, who both studied music pedagogy.
To make the show memorable, contemporary visuals will be used and emphasis given to the lighting, a task taken by Dorothy Png from Singapore. Choreography is by Aida Redza while production designer is Liew Kung-Yu.
Details and ticket information at www.georgetownfestival.com.