28 February 2006

no sleep over it

Okay, Torino is over and it'll be another 4 years before I get to watch any winter sports on the telly. Such a shame. Such displays of strength, control and grace now left to the summer winds as we return to football, football, football and the occasional tennis match. And if you pay extra, you get golf. That's just amazing. If Nicole wasn't a World Champion, no one would give a shit about squash. We Malaysians only want IT if it involves the superficial accolades that come with it.

Just like the work I live in. Theatre. We claim we want it. We claim we are a Arts and Culture savvy society. So, why doesn't everyone want to watch theatre productions that don't involve comedy?

I understand that daily life is tough and you want to let off some steam by getting your laughter medication. That's great. However, theatre is so much more than just comedy. Everytime someone asks me what my next show is, the question that follows is, "Is it funny?"

I was trained in all elements of theatre, and I love dramatic pieces. My career began in a serious piece which made the critics take notice.

A couple of nights ago, I came out of the theatre to greet our audience. This lovely girl came up to me and said how much she enjoyed my making her laugh and how she wanted to see me in my next project. I told her it was a serious piece and how drama was where I shined best. With a saddened look, she sighed an "Oh" and added, "So, it's not funny?" For a brief moment, I felt my heart break from her disappointment. But only a moment.

What hurts is how much of a bum rap drama gets. Unless you're a cute actor people want to drool over regardless of the genre of the play (they'll come in droves), drama is destined to live a theatrical life in arts obscurity. But it is all the genres that make theatre Theatre. Like watching movies, Theatre contains all the amazing, wonderful and subtle elements of our lives. There is nothing truly as breathtaking as a powerful performance seen right before your eyes. Coupled with a script of substance, you are guaranteed a ride of the senses.

I guess that's why I carved a place for myself in this medium. The sensation of experiencing the moment far surpasses the crap money we earn from it. Movies and TV I don't mind doing but nothing gets my heart pounding like a great piece of theatre. And what makes it great? It becomes great when you, the audience, become part of the process of theatre in its entirety.

We do have a growing audience base. We've also lost a lot thanks to the mediocrity that sometimes escapes onto our stages.

We will continue to present theatre to you in all its many faces. We know you're ready.

Come in. We've been waiting.

15 comments:

suanie said...

You're cute, we'll come in droves (when not broke).

Seriously, you should do a mailing list or something. I bought a copy of Afdlin's CD, they retained my email, then they sent me a banner for the recent Actorlympics. That was how I decided to go.

pwasad said...

as in intern at TASB(hoho), everytime i look at the listings,i don't feel like laughing:we seem to sell tickets for bad comedy and nothing else.

we do want something serious, it's high time we got ourselves some real theatre, something that needs some cerebral activity :)

bring it on edwin!

adekmanis said...

Yes you were very funny lah that night. And very good looking too :)

Adrian Choo said...

hey edwin, don't be discouraged. we, purists, are still here ... Malaysian Theatre has improved in leaps and bounds over the years thanks to brave & talented individuals like you. Drama? Bring it on.

wmw said...

Hi there, thanks for dropping by my blog. When you said that I was quite a critic, was that good or bad? Ha ha...Anyway, don't be disheartened. You can't make people like/love something that they don't quite comprehend. Put your passion to work and teach them...The world will be a dull place indeed without talented performers like you.

tweel said...

Edwin, I am a fan. But I can't afford the prices. You are certainly talented and an asset to the local theatre scene. How abt putting somethg up that everydayman could afford to watch and appreciate, drama and all...

Stupe said...

Winter Olympic is over, now time to focus on the Commonwealth Game and see Kimbeley in action! (she's the babe that kicked arse in the last SEA Game by upsetting the favourite to win the triathlon gold).

and yes i'm a fan of yours too....

Edwin Sumun said...

What amazing responses from all of you!

I'm not disheartened by it all. On the contrary, it is exactly the said reasons that I do what I do because I believe the Malaysian audience is ready for whatever we pratitioners produce. My passion for theatre propels me to keep putting up shows. Sumunda's last two plays have been critical successes. However, the number of people who watched was dismal. And please do not blame the publicity. I have a great publicity machine. Drama, at the moment, doesn't sell as well as comedy.

Ticket prices. A victim of cause and effect I say. Ticket prices for most shows tend to be high because of the lack of sponsorship finances and I'm sure you'll agree that production costs, however minimal, must be paid for. Sumunda tries to keep it low to encourage more people to come. You'll be surprised to know that theatre rental costs an arm and a leg, sometimes half of our production costs. That's why Sumunda only mounts one show a year and that is usually dependant on how much I've personally made that year. Yes, my own money goes into paying other people to entertain the public. My last play was RM32 for a internationally acclaimed script that had Malaysia, indonesia and Germany collaborating. If I had my way, tickets would be even cheaper.

I love what I do. And I love that people like you encourage us to strive for that gold medal.

This dialogue could go on endlessly. Just know that we are here.

Oh yes, Adrian, theatre in our country has improved leaps and bounds. However, if you look closely, we have actually taken a couple of steps backward. It's the entire community and system we have to deal with. But we keep on running forward and that's the asset we have.

Thank you all for being wonderful. Now, I'm off to edit a video for my Amazing Race Asia application.

wmw said...

Woo hoo! Yes! They have to take you in for AR Asia!!!! Wah! Think of the drama/comedy/agony and thrills that you will be providing us!And who shall be your racing partner? Or is that a secret?

Jazzmamma said...

not to mention the million and one costume changes and props that'll come along!!!

Afiq said...

I do believe that one day, Malaysia audience is ready to accept new kind of entertainment other than comedy. It is just a matter of time.

Frankly speaking, at one point I am not a theatre audience or theatre person. I used to say that theatre is such a waste of time. But now, I am soluting the theatre industry.

You can't compare a cinema movie with a live theatre presentation. Live action is always better in all sorts of way.

P/S: do inform me if there're some good and worthy theatre performance to watch. :)

Edwin Sumun said...

okay joonji, candice and me have decided to minimize our packing... to about 25 kgs! It's gonna be tough but let's see if they select us to be part of the competing teams. I want to do this so much that I'll drop all my projects.

WMW: If you want to know who my partner is, go to my links and click on Raffles Waffles.

juliana said...

hi edwin.. juliana here!! was blog hopping and found u.. :) hope to see gorgeous you soon!!

shamaine said...

edwin...somehow it's the opposite here in Melbourne..well,the Monash Uni theatre scene at least...Almost everything that the students put up has got something to do with the war in Iraq,John Howard and refugees...Yes,these issues are important and need attention...but some laughter would be good right? Read my latest blog...I'm working on this new piece...it's comedy..just plain comedy..investigating the workings of comedy..doing it for myself not for the audience...I want to understand more about comedy and it's function

Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY! »