‘Water: A Musical’ aims to use theatre as advocacy

‘Water: A Musical’ aims to use theatre as advocacy

A brand-new play aims to create greater awareness of the importance of conservation

‘WATER: A Musical’ is the latest brainchild of veteran playwright and director Chin San Sooi.

A household name in the local theatre landscape, San Sooi has been first working over the past 60 years.

The acclaimed director is the co-founder of Five Arts Centre and the Kuala Lumpur Chinese Opera Club.

In 2015, he was conferred an honorary recognition by the Boh Cameronian Arts Award for his lifetime of work in theatre.

San Sooi’s play, Reunion, produced in 1964, was the acting and stage debut of the late Adibah Noor. She was discovered through a mutual friend at a karaoke lounge that she frequents.

His latest play is titled ‘Water: A Musical’ and debuts on September 21 this year. The play takes place in a forest and opens with the Tiger calling for a meeting with all the different animals to discuss the damage humans have caused the environment.

The seven animals that were gathered affirm the sanctity of life and the planet.

Designed as an interactive play, audiences are encouraged to engage with the actors and join in the song and dance.

Audience members can look forward to 60 minutes of memorable engagement with the cast. The musical is a collaboration between Chin San Sooi and Joanne Poh of Somerset Music who worked on the musical arrangement and the score for the various compositions.

San Sooi said at the official media launch of Water at Warong Old China in Kuala Lumpur, “I was contemplating writing a play on the topic of conservation when I read of the deforestation that was taking place at the National Park in Pahang many years ago. I was too earnest, and the muse eluded me, till now.”

At 81, San Sooi remains as prolific as ever. ‘Water’ is the result of the creative burst of energy he experienced during the nationwide lockdown due to the pandemic.

The creative duo behind Water: A Musical, Joanne Poh and Chin San Sooi. – KALASH NANDA KUMAR/The Vibes pic

“I do not see myself as a writer. I allow thoughts and ideas to always flow into me and work at them. I wrote this, to my surprise, that I could write so much in such a short time.

“For instance, it took me 10 years to complete my first play, Lady White. So, what keeps me going? I suppose when the muse takes over you, there’s not much else you can do but to keep writing. You surrender to it, and it happens.”

‘Water: A Musical’ is one of eight scripted works that San Sooi completed during lockdown; the others include satires, monologues, an operetta, and other musicals.

“A musical is more difficult to realise as it is very challenging to compose a piece of music to lyrics written by another person,” San Sooi said.

“I approached Joanne to compose the music. Joanne in her own right is a singing and piano teacher, runs a music school and has sung in choirs and performed on stage. I gave her a year to work on the music. I am glad that Joanne Poh took up the gauntlet with our three musicians.

“Water is the combined effort from all of us in an act of creativity with the members of the cast. The oldest is 61-year-old Hilda Looi to 16-year-olds, and the youngest is a schoolgirl Kirsten Wong, 13.”

“Together with designer Khang Nanyao, we have set the stage with the different cast of characters through specially created headwear for the different animal characters like Mousedeer, Tiger, Elephant, Monkey and Wild Boar,” San Sooi remarked.

San Sooi has never shied away from politics and uses his pen as an instrument to inspire. He believes “art is [meant] to highlight the work of ordinary people, to show them that they are heroes in everyday life, with whatever they are struggling through.”

“In a small but significant way, we hope that Water: A Musical will make people more aware of the environment and treat it with respect and concern. The play could lead to [awareness] of larger issues like conservation of the seas and oceans,” said San Sooi.
After five decades as a writer, his sense of optimism and conviction remains strong.

“I have come to a time, given my age, that I can speak with license, and that what I speak, my criticisms or otherwise, is meant for everyone.”

San Sooi expressed that young writers are often plagued by doubt, and would constantly second-guess themselves, an issue he no longer experiences.

The Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM), a local NGO body, applauds and welcomes initiatives like these which indicate the growing consciousness in Malaysia on the protection the environment requires and is pleased to support raising the realisation in a creative form.

The musical debuts on Wednesday, September 21 with shows daily until Sunday, September 25 at DPAC in Petaling Jaya. It is supported by Warong Old China, GTM Art and Stationery Suppliers, Yudimama and Little Heritage House.

source – The Vibes


Share This


Wordpress (0)
Disqus (0 )