For over a decade, the acclaimed Life Sdn Bhd series has showcased thought-provoking Malaysian stories, by inviting actors and non-actors alike to share their personal experiences on stage.
Previous instalments of the show have seen individuals from various fields share their stories on issues such as HIV/AIDS (2010), abuse (2011), refugees (2011) and even the supernatural (2015).
This year, however, for Life Sdn Bhd’s lucky 13th instalment, the topic for discussion stretches a little wider. The spotlight is on “people”.
“We thought we’d cast the net further and cover a lot more ground. Therefore, the title ‘People’! It covers everything, all the issues, the feelings, the good, the bad, the ugly, how people relate to you. It opens a wide range of topics,” says Datuk Faridah Merican, the show series director.
Life Sdn Bhd: People, presented by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat, will be showing at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac), starting March 2.
It will feature stories told by Joe Hasham, Karan Hundal, Sharon Ohno, Roshinee Mookaiah, Veshalini Naidu, Ian Chow, Mark Beau De Silva, Omar Ali, Ryonn Leong, and Sukhbir Cheema. The cast were tight-lipped when asked what their stories would be about. According to them, some stories would be moving and poignant, others would be comedic, but all of them would be real.
“You will be exposed to slice of life tales. Nothing is made up. For each person on stage, everything comes from the depths of their personality. That is the crux of Life Sdn Bhd,” reveals Faridah. This instalment’s theme, she adds, is particularly appropriate as it brings the series back to people, the very thing that has kept the series alive. Faridah mentions that some of the show’s stories had been discovered after a call for submissions, while others were uncovered accidentally.
Sukhbir’s story, for example, was discovered after he had a cup of coffee with the director. At first, he was a little nervous to tell his story in front of an audience, but he gathered his feelings. Now he feels doing so will be a cathartic experience.
“When you go up on stage and tell your story, you are confronting your deepest, darkest fears and insecurities. That can be overwhelming. For me, it has been very interesting ‘letting go’ sessions during the rehearsals. In sharing these stories to receptive cast members, I feel positive. And hopefully, I will find a receptive audience next,” says Sukhbir, who also works as a publicist at KLPac.
“After rehearsals, I always feel good, because it feels like a burden being released,” he adds.
Actress Ohno adds that moments of connection are what makes the Life Sdn Bhd experience memorable for storytellers.
“When you’re telling a funny part, for example, inside, you’re laughing at something you remember. And when you hear someone laughing at it, you think, we connect! They understand it’s supposed to be funny. Maybe they’ve experienced something like what you have,” she says.
One of the highlights of the upcoming Life Sdn Bhd is the debut of Joe Hasham, the co-founder of The Actor’s Studio (and Faridah’s husband), in this long-running series. The award-winning actor and director will share stories from his experiences growing up as a Lebanese-Australian.
Another segment, Faridah reveals, will feature actress Roshinee reading out a story by one of her friends Nala Nantha, who sadly could not attend the show as she is in Bangalore, India.
“Roshinee will be presenting the story as though it is her own story. The casting fits! That’s acceptable, because it’s still a true story,” she says.
Each story, as the cast maintains, is unique, and at least one of them will make you realise you are not alone.
“No matter where you were in life, there would be others who could relate or empathise with you,” assures Faridah.
“I was amazed to hear some of the stories. I was, wow, did you really go through that? People are very interesting. We wear masks, and try to cover ourselves up when we go through sadness and depression. So when these stories are shared, it’s moving. I listen and think, I can’t believe someone experienced something like that. And my perspective of that individual changes,” says Sukhbir.
“Listening to everyone’s stories, you realise there are similar threads that run through everything. This story may be about one thing, but it branches into another person’s story, and you think, they connect! It may be by the finest threads, but it almost becomes like a patchwork, how they all seem to fit with each other,” adds Ohno.
“It makes you realise that we may come from different backgrounds or cultures, but we all have similarities. Everyone is connected.”
Life Sdn Bhd: People will be showing at Pentas 2, KLPac, Sentul Park, Jalan Strachan, off Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah in Kuala Lumpur from March 2-5. Showtimes are at 8.30pm on March 2-4 and 3pm on March 5. Tickets are RM45 and RM35 (concession). The show is strictly for ages 12 above. For more information, call 03-4047 9000 or visit www.klpac.org.