“THE kitchen is the soul of a home, to me,” says producer-playwright Fa Abdul about her upcoming production, Tales From Amma’s Kitchen.
“It is where bonds between family members are formed, it is where discussions of private nature take place; it is where the drama unfolds. And that is precisely what the audience can expect from the show — a dose of reality,” says the co-founder of Big Nose Production who was behind the Boh Cameronian award-winning 2016 show, Shakespeare Goes Bollywood.
Tales From Amma’s Kitchen will feature an Indian mother (played by Narinder Kaur), her not-so-Indian children, a Chinese daughter-in-law wannabe and an Indonesian maid next door who is more Malaysian than most Malaysians.
The ensemble includes Tilottama Pillai, Mithran Balakrishnan, Felicia Samuel, Charles Roberts, Tan Wei Ling, Mia Sabrina Mahadir and Raja Shah Irshad.
The show is a full-fledged take on a Short+Sweet award-winning piece called Amma’s Mutton Curry.
“I realised Amma’s sarcasm, humour and grace as she shares her perceptions of life which is very appealing to many people (it brought them back to memories of their own homes). I just had to develop the story so I added a few more characters and enough spices to complete Amma’s family, and Tales From Amma’s Kitchen was born.”
Narinder, 67, a Singapore native now settled in Malaysia, is a late bloomer of theatre, although the passion has always been there.
“I used to be active in school plays a long, long time ago and during my university days, I did some experimental theatre in a few productions,” she says.
The former Perth resident says she was intimidated about attending auditions there, as she was up against professional actors with acting degrees and diplomas.
In Malaysia, the opportunity arose when Big Nose Productions held auditions for Shakespeare Goes Bollywood in 2016.
“When I was told I was going to play a father, I was rethinking about it but decided to give it a try. That was my first theatre experience in Malaysia. It was very satisfying.”
That same year, Narinder played the lead role in Fa’s Short+Sweet Festival show Amma’s Mutton Curry and bagged her first award. In 2017, she played a gay woman in Overheard At A Cafe, and won her second Best Actor award.
“That role was more challenging. To get into it, I had to analyse and re-analyse myself in the role. It was foreign to me, not something natural.
“Although a newbie in Malaysian theatre, I’ve had my share of different roles — father, mother and a lesbian. For Tales From Amma’s Kitchen, it is much easier because the part suits me very well. Amma is me in real life. Much of the subject in the play is very much at home because it mirrors my life,” says Narinder who includes veteran actor of stage and screen Lim Kay Tong among her favourite actors.
While mutton curry is on the menu for the play, along with hilarious and thought-provoking stories, Narinder’s own favourite dish she says is Penang mee goreng and pasembor with potatoes.
Fa feels that the two-hour long play will serve some good humour as well as offer an honest reflection of the dynamics within a family in a Malaysian society. — By SUBHADRA DEVAN, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tales From Amma’s Kitchen
When: May 5, 8.30pm and May 6, 3pm
Where: Pentas 2, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, Sentul
Tickets @ RM45. Call KLPaC Box Office 03-4047 9000
When: May 11 and 12, 8.30pm and May 12 and 13, 3pm
Where: stage 2, Penangpac, F17, Jalan Seri Tg Pinang, Seri Tanjung Pinang
Tickets @ RM40 (flat rate)
Early Bird @ RM35 (until May 7)
Call Penangpac Box Office 04-899 1722/2722