Some people say that the teenage years are the best in one’s life. Other people, however, say that people who say that have clearly forgotten what it was like to be a teenager!
For most, adolescence is an awkward time of transition and self-discovery. That is probably why both these themes are a huge part of Teenage Dream, the concluding showcase from this year’s batch of Theatre For Young People (T4YP) participants.
Teenage Dream plays at Pentas 2, KLPac from July 26-29.
Now in its 11th year, T4YP is a programme by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat and KLPac for young people between the ages of 16 and 25. It consists of an intensive six-month programme of productions and actor-training.
Teenage Dream features two plays, all devised, written and performed by this year’s T4YP group. The production is a highly personal one since it includes stories from the 16-strong ensemble, each one recalling teenage memories.
“This play can only be told by these young people. We thought, can this play be performed by other actors, like people in their 30s? No, it wouldn’t work. It can only be told by this group, at this age, they carry the hopes for the future,” says actor/director/writer Mark Beau de Silva, 39, who facilitates T4YP with fellow theatre pratitioneer Ho Lee Ching.
Eight members of the ensemble will perform the first play Becoming Uda, while the other eight members will tackle the second show Lanun Berlapan. They will all come together in a contemporary dance finale Utara, choreographed by Zhafir Muzani.
Becoming Uda is inspired by the classic play Uda Dan Dara by Datuk Usman Awang. In this “tribute” work, a classroom is thrown into chaos after a teacher is unable to attend class, and a boy finds himself stuck in a forbidden love muddle.
Mayhem, music, madness and love ensue. However, will the boy’s classmates be able to accept him?
In short, Becoming Uda is a love story, which discusses issues of identity and (relationship) boundaries in Malaysia.
“Being involved in this helped me to discover myself more, and I was able to find the truth in myself. There are a lot of untold stories out there, and people need to know about them,” says Asher Au, 19, T4YP ensemble member , whose personal stories formed a large part in shaping this play.
Lanun Berlapan is a tale of a gang of pirates, sailing in search of love, redemption and self-discovery.
There is not much by way of Captain Jack Sparrow here. Instead, this work looks at how our inherited bodies can make us who we are – our physical insecurities, our physical scars.
“We wanted to focus more on the identity of young people. So we started with that, and we realised that we wanted to explore how our bodies are passed down,” says facilitator Ho, 27, about the Lanun Berlapan work.
“We are born with what we have, inherited from our ancestors. Our eyes, our ears, our fingers are a certain way because of genetics. That’s an identity already given to us and we can’t run from it. So we decided to examine what stories we can tell here.”