First, the interview with outside-the- box-thinker, erstwhile student-activist, ISA Detainee, film-maker and writer Hishamuddin Rais.
I bumped into Isham at Raja Ahmad's open house the other day and asked him to read on Saturday ... but he must have forgotten. I do hope we can get him another time - the last time he read (a piece from his play about being interrogated) his words came across so powerfully.
He told me that he later took his play across the country, performing in small out of the way places for the people his words needed most to reach.
And then there was this very nice glimpse of Na'a Murad's (Jit's little brother) bookshelf. His favourites writers? Kurt Vonnegut, Umberto Eco, Salman Rushdie, Promoedya Ananta Toer, and science writers Stephen Jay Gould (I'm happy I've found another fan!) and Richard Dawkins. Who says there are no serious readers among us?
The last time in saw Na'a, he was playing one of the main characters in Animah's play.
There's a tasty little taster of Xeus' story Trashcan Child. (Now this seems to me a very good idea, The Sunday supplements in the UK and the US often have extracts from books. And what better way to promote local writing and get potential readers interested in books?)
And there was also an account by theatre director Kwong Loke of the staged reading of an extract from Kee Thuan Chye's play Swordfish and Then the Concubine at the Warehouse Theatre, Croydon. The play, you will remember, won a consolation prize at the International Playwriting Festival:
Kee writes from the heart; his works consistently emphasise fair play and equality. They question the state of being of both the individual and the society he lives in. It is not agit-prop, but, as with all valued writing, it expresses what he sees as flaws in contemporary life and offers them up for debate and self-examination. ...He is not afraid to raise issues of post-colonialism and history (We Could **** You, Mr Birch), state control and multicultural co-existence (1984 Here and Now), race, class and government (The Big Purge).You always wonder how something written in this part of the world will go down elsewhere. I found this interesting:
The reading of the extracts was received with intense absorption; funnily, for a play that is so grounded in Asian tradition, it reflects Britain’s current mood towards its prime minister, Tony Blair, and his style of leadership – a break in trust and belief between the voters and the elected. The audience appreciated the universal relevance of Kee’s play, which well deserved its place in the shortlist ... The themes of injustice, intolerance, lack of foresight resulting in political failure brought an enthralled silence to the house. A long speech detailing impalement as a form of punishment was complemented by a stunning vision of a lonely girl washing her bare arms. It brought out all the vulnerability of the oppressed.Well done, Chye, and what a pity you could not have been there yourself.
(Pics nicked from the Star. The pic of actress Se-Rock Park as the concubine, was originally from Warehouse Theatre).