StageCraft presents more Malaysian Stories

Since 2014, StageCraft had been encouraging their students who are trained in public speaking skills, to get interested in theatre.

Elizabeth A. Louis, the director and principal trainer of StageCraft, believes there’s no better way to show off their abilities than to present it in a live stage performance, usually at the end of each academic year.
Elizabeth would encourage all the students aged between 7 and 17, to participate in various roles and let them perform live to an audience for an experience that will inevitably help them gain more confidence in public speaking.

Following the success of last year’s presentation of A Tapestry of Malaysian Stories that featured a few well-loved Malaysian folk tales or Cerita-cerita Rakyat Malaysia, Stagecraft decided to have the second edition of A Tapestry of Malaysian Stories.

Presented in black-box theatre style, the staging of A Tapestry of Malaysian Stories 2 was part of the programme of the 14th Johor Baru Arts Festival where an excerpt of the show was presented to the public Free-of-Charge, at Big Bites Café on Nov 18.

In black box theatre, every actor was dressed in black and will have limited use of props, costumes and accessories so that the audience may stretch their imagination as they watch the performances.

The full performance was held at the Setia Tropika Welcome Center, also known as the Setia Convention Arena, Taman Setia Tropika, in two ticketed shows on Nov 24 and 25.

The programme of five short dramas and one choral speaking presentation was presented with a 15-minute intermission.

Elizabeth described this year’s show as “two hours of comedy, history and drama in their original plays.”

This showcase of Malaysian stories aimed to bring together multi-ethnic children as they take on various roles, often as a character from a different ethnic group.

The performance of the second edition of Malaysian Stories included original scripts written for Geng Kampung, Chicken Kapitan, The Silent Tiger (The legend of Bukit Gemai), The Pepper Parade and Manjal, the Tamil word for turmeric or kunyit.

As I sat back to enjoy the show, I could see how some of the students took to the stage quite naturally and clearly enjoyed performing live to an audience.

In Chicken Kapitan, the cook [Left] struggling to tell
the captain and his dinner guests, the name of that dish
While the actors may only be students, they all did well but a special mention goes to the cook in the captain’s household in Chicken Kapitan.

She realistically portrayed the role of an elderly Chinese lady whose language skills was limited and reminded us that most elderly Chinese who learnt a new language, often had problems with pronunciation.

Her cooking skills may be commendable but her poor pronunciation probably resulted in how a dish like Chicken Kapitan earned its name!

I observed how Elizabeth and her team of coaches made every effort to keep their scripts as close to history/legend as possible but took literary license to tweak the stories for the sake of continuity and brevity.

The Johor Chingay Parade as it was portrayed in
The Pepper Parade
The Pepper Parade is a catchy phrase but the Johor Chingay Parade is clearly more than that.

I can understand how the name of this play was coined because the parade is a tradition of the Johor Gu Miao or Old Temple, the place of worship for the immigrant community of pepper and gambier planters.

Through this play, StageCraft paid tribute to the Johor ruler whose wisdom and benevolence united the Chinese dialect groups through the ‘temple of unity,’ as a common place of worship.

While pepper and gambier earned its place of honour in Johor, the Johor Chingay continues annually and in 2012, it was recognised as a National Cultural Heritage.

Through Manjal, I learnt that it is the Tamil word for turmeric or kunyit. The show was also a lesson in Indian culture because interesting snippets were portrayed in the play and woven into the dialogue, in an attempt to educate the younger generation.

A colourful scene in Manjal
One of the most ‘fun’ roles must be that of the son whose mischievous lines were a clever ploy not only to tickle but also to inform the audience.

I must confess that I couldn’t help but laughed aloud when he gave his own (hilarious!) version of the purpose of the pottu, the Indian tradition of wearing a dot on the forehead, in particular when it was red in colour.

Students as young as age seven are encouraged to participate in the performance because Elizabeth believes that stage experience is not only empowering and inclusive but also an opportunity to light the students’ passion for the performing arts.

The youngest students received the loudest applause for their choral speaking presentation which they delivered to the best of their abilities.

The youngest students in their choral speaking
presentation of Chimes of the Times
Groups of students came on stage to narrate their parts in Chimes of the Times, a choral speaking piece composed by Emelda Corea and Anne Louis, which described the disparity between the youngsters of today – also known as the fast-food generation – and those of yesteryears.

When I heard words and phrases like ice-ball, gula tarek, chapteh and gasing spinning, I privately wondered if the current generation understood what each of these mean!

I hope the students and youngsters in the audience may be intrigued enough to ask their parents and grandparents to clarify and in so doing, they may learn to appreciate some of the most popular treats and past-times in a bygone era.

In past years, StageCraft have successfully staged popular children’s stories like The Gruffalo, Piglet – a parody of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, False Awakening – an original written by the students, a modern version of Cinderella and many more.

StageCraft, which started in 2011 with some 40 students, has expanded to two centers located at Adda Heights and Nong Chik Riverside at Jalan Kolam Ayer. 

For more info about StageCraft, visit website:  Tel: 607 – 3646050 or email:

No comments:

Post a Comment