Over the past few months, four aspiring theatre directors have been working very hard at their craft. The young quartet – Ali Motamedi, Lim Sheng Hui, Hana Nadira and Khairi Anwar – were handpicked by Theatresauce, a local performing arts collective.

They are part of 2019’s Emerging Director’s Lab (EDL), a year-long programme to train new theatre practitioners. Between April 18 and 21, the four will be showcasing their theatre skills for the first time at Lot’ng Arts Space in Subang Jaya, Selangor. Each one is directing a play as part of the When We Were showcase, featuring four short plays. Each work explores themes of “memory”.

“These four emerging directors are part of the future,” says Kelvin Wong, Theatresauce artistic director, 33, who also facilitates the EDL programme.

“This is a start for these directors to find their own voice, to discover their style, what are they drawn to, and what are their politics? It’s only the first term (of EDL), so these things will change as they grow,” he adds.

This is the second edition of the EDL, which began last year with directors Alex Chua, Arief Hamizan, Esther Liew and Toby Teh selected. Participants take part in three terms (of study) under Theatresauce, each term ending with a showcase testing different aspects of the directorial process.

This term’s showcase focuses on stage realism, drama and dramaturgy.

What We Were will begin with Whatever That Is (written by Singapore-based Malaysian playwright Huzir Sulaiman), which will be directed by Ali. This witty satire is the tale of a couple whose life is upended after their son decides to overthrow the “Establishment”. It features actors Alex Chua and Alexis Wong.

“The play deals with social class, it deals with language, with teenagers. Social class is still very important, especially among teenagers … things like which school you go to, what you wear, what your parents earn, it’s all a matter of social class,” says Ali.

Khairi will be directing Harry Allen’s Remembering The Kites, a play which won several prizes at Short and Sweet Dubai 2013, and will be performed in Malaysia for the first time. Remembering The Kites, featuring Danny Wall and Chacko Vadaketh, tells the story of two old men who meet at a bar, and soon end up in an argument over which version of their memories is more accurate.

An excerpt from Dry Land, a play from American playwright Ruby Rae Spiegel, will be directed by Lim. Hannan Barakbah and Grace Ng will act in this excerpt (also to be performed in Malaysia for the first time) surrounding a discussion by two young girls in a locker room. This work touches on issues such as sexuality, life, death and friendship.

What We Were concludes with Malam Konsert by Malaysian playwright Jit Murad. It will be directed by Hana. The work is about a divorced husband coming to pick up his son for the weekend, and he and his ex-wife revisit key events in their lives. It features Jad Hidhir and Putrina Rafie.

“I’m very attracted to relationships, how people relate to each other. I find couple relationships are particularly interesting, because they involve so much negotiation and compromise and power play. To me, it’s particularly exciting to put two people in a room together, with all this baggage, and see how they work it out,” says Hana, 34.


When We Were runs at Lot’ng Arts Space, 32-2, Jalan USJ 10/1E, Taipan Business Centre, Subang Jaya, Selangor from April 18-21. Showtimes are 8.30pm, with additional Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3.00pm. Entry is RM35. For mature audiences only. FB: Theatresauce. WhatsApp: 017 648 1833.