Multi-media theatre show Layang, the first full-length production by the Main Wayang group, finds inspiration in many different forms and is rooted in different languages of the mind and body. This is where audio meets visual, warping its appearance and encouraging it to take on a life on its own. But then there is also movement in the form of physical theatre and shadow theatre, plus a ride into the surreal with virtual reality and electronic soundscapes.
Beyond this information, the Main Wayang group is not going to be revealing too much.
Layang will be playing at the KongsiKL performance space in on Feb 10 and 11.
The Main Wayang group comprises multi-disciplinary artist Fairuz Sulaiman, who is known for his live video projection works, musician Sudarshan Chandra Kumar and actor-director Ayam Fared of local theatre collective Rumah Anak Teater.
Layang, clocking in at just under an hour, is an expanded version of a short work-in-progress showcase staged by the group early last year at Kwang Tung Dance Company in Kuala Lumpur as part of the Pandora Experimental Box 2017.
“Layang is a culmination of ideas and various things we had wanted to experiment with for the last few years. Layang provided us with an opportunity for us to do this thanks to seed funding from the INXO Arts Fund’s maiden arts grant programme,” says Fairuz.
INXO Arts Fund is a homegrown arts and culture development platform created by the independent INXO Arts and Culture Foundation.
Fairuz explains that Layang is built from scratch, without borrowing from existing scripts, stories or formats. Its formulation hinges heavily on the trio’s discourse and contemplation on the meaning of theatre and how fluid definitions can be.
“We throw questions around, we argue, we try to prove each other wrong – or right. Sometimes the entire process feels like a kite being tossed around in a storm. We are all holding onto the string together, and we feel ourselves being tugged in all directions,” he adds.
What Main Wayang ended up with is a performance that is constantly trying to find its centre, a balancing act that the group seems rather happy to tackle.They operate as a unit, Fairuz shares, referencing not just the people behind Layang, but also the equipment and instruments working in tandem with each other, be it mixers or multi-effects processors, virtual reality equipment, drum machine, or that “mysterious cube” that they just won’t stop mentioning but mysteriously decline to elaborate on.
These separate entities are intricately woven, each part transforming every segment it touches, to the point where the end result is not something necessarily recognisable in its original form.
“I like it when we plan to deliver a certain vibe but and then it ends up being something totally different from what we envisioned. It is when such surprises happen that I enjoy the working process the most. It is nice knowing that you are not completely in control,” says Sudarshan.
When asked how they think a general audience might react to an unconventional production like Layang, Fairuz is quick to deadpan, “They might say ‘wah, like that also can make a show, ah?’”.
On a more serious note, however, he notes that he would like them to be inquisitive, curious and critical, to question everything they see in Layang and ponder on why things fit together the way they do. Or perhaps they do not.
“It would be a real shame if we failed to put the audience in a position where they were somehow uncomfortable and did not question why they felt that way,” he says.
Layang will be staged at KongsiKL, a warehouse that has been converted into a community arts space. It is a no-frills venue.
“From the very beginning, we were clear that the performance space should be non-conventional. KongsiKL fits into our idea that such performances should be more accessible to the public,” says Ayam.
“To me, theatre is a space for people to communicate and share experiences with each other, and we need to figure out how best to make such connections. Is it through lengthy dialogue or a comedy? Or can a simple theatrical experience move and enlighten you?” he concludes with a hint of optimism ahead.
Main Wayang’s production Layang plays at KongsiKL, Gudang Yee Seng II, Taman Goodwood, Old Klang Road in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 10 and 11. Showtimes: 8.30pm. Free admission. A crowdfunding campaign is being held to help cover production costs. Lend your support at mystartr.com/projects/layangbymainwayang. FB: Main Wayang.