How long does it take to cut and clean up a site of a huge fallen banyan tree?
At the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac), it looks like the remains of a grand ol’ banyan tree – which was uprooted by a storm earlier this year – will be incorporated in a site-specific production.
The banyan’s tree’s body, bark and roots, as we discover, were too heavy to be cleared, and KLPac’s management decided to make the best of this situation.
It sent out an open call for artists to work with the fallen tree.
KLPac’s resident director Tung Jit Yang saw this as a unique opportunity to devise a performance with the banyan tree being an important part of the pop-up theatre show.
“The winds were strong one evening at KLPac, strangely and severely so, and the tree – old and dying perhaps – just fell. Tragic metaphor? Timely reminder? Of what? I don’t know,” says Tung.
“The fallen pokok moved within me a sense of tragedy, of passing time. This tree must have been there for more than 100 years, standing strong and old. It was there long before KLPac was a theatre space … even before this area in Sentul was a train depot. It survived WWII bombs dropped on KL by the Japanese,” he adds.
“There is a sense that this fallen tree is now a kind of bridge into the past – the actual site’s history, and I guess, part of KL’s history.”
On April 26, Tung will be working with this year’s Theatre for Young People (T4YP) ensemble for the T4YP Pop-Up Performance: Pokok Bunian Sudah Mati at the site of the fallen banyan tree on the KLPac grounds.
This site-specific piece, with the fallen tree serving as a source of inspiration, tells a story about ageing and the decay of beauty.
“It’ll be a dive into the deep end kind of experience for the T4YP ensemble, who have just begun their training and experience in the theatre, and also a challenge for myself as a theatremaker in making theatre in a short amount of time,” says Tung.
This will not be the first time a performance will be taking place around the dead tree. An open mic event series called Malam Sayu Berpuisi, organised by Coebar Abel and Veshalini Naidu, also took place there last year.
Since this Pokok Bunian Sudah Mati show will take place outdoors, Tung advises theatregoers to come prepared with mosquito repellant, umbrellas and torchlights.
T4YP Pop-up Theatre Performance: Pokok Bunian Sudah Mati will take place by the fallen banyan tree at KLPac, Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan, off Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah in Kuala Lumpur on April 26 at 8.30pm. Minimum donation of RM10. Recommended age of four above. More info: www.klpac.org.