Tell us a bit more about yourself.
I’m a calligrapher and theatre practitioner, and I’m currently freelancing with a Malay theatre company, Anggerik Temasek Bangsawan. It’s a Bangsawan troupe, which is a type of traditional Malay opera, but we’re trying to revive it using new technology.
What first drew you to theatre and Bangsawan?
I couldn’t imagine having a corporate job, and sitting at the desk from 9 to 5 everyday, so I went to study theatre in LASALLE, because at the time, it was quite easy to get into theatre (laughs). It’s been quite nice so far though. I love the creativity that everyone has in this field. When you see someone being very passionate in what they do, it’s very uplifting.
I was only introduced to Bangsawan last year actually. A Malay friend of mine invited me to join the troupe, because their producer needed some assistance. I thought, “Well, I don’t know anything about Bangsawan, so I should just go ahead and help him and learn more about it at the same time.”
As time went by, I found that Bangsawan is so detailed and elaborate. For example, the costumes have to follow the trends of the 1500s or 1800s, with all of its accessories and colours. And nothing can be missed, because everything has its own meaning. Even the hair, you know? If you’re a virgin, or married, or divorced, the hairstyle you have is very different.
What I love most about Bangsawan is that you get to dive into a more detailed heritage of the Malay culture. Even in terms of dialogue—it’s not a normal, everyday conversation that you have, it’s a more melodious, rhythmic kind of talking. I love that a lot, and I think it would be such a shame if this dies out.
You mentioned that the Bangsawan troupe is trying to incorporate new technology into productions. Can you tell us more about how this is being done?
Okay, Bangsawan is a form of Malay opera, which is traditionally performed in theatres. But now, we’re incorporating more elaborate lighting technology to create different atmospheres. The last production we put up back in February, Dang Anum, had an LED screen to show different sets. So the sets were digital, unlike traditional pop-up, physical sets.
Can you also tell us a bit more about your personal style?
Actually, I don’t really follow fashion trends. I like to recycle my clothes, and most of the pieces in my wardrobe are from other people. Sometimes, I’ll find pieces at home that have been hanging in the wardrobe for a while, and I’ll just take them and think about the different ways I can wear them (laughs).
I’m dressed very casually most of the time, because it’s so hot in Singapore, so you have to wear something weather-appropriate, you know?