Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tok Perak Oh Tok Perak

Selepas seminggu menonton Tok Perak 2008, akhirnya aku terbaca dua ulasannya yang menarik, satunya di NST Jumat 4 Julai yang ditulis oleh Hizreen Kamal dan satu lagi yang ditulis oleh Ku Seman di Mingguan Malaysia. Sebenarnya ianya sesuatu yang menarik apabila New Straits Times datang untuk menonton dan mengulas persembahan. Pertama, NST yang selalunya lebih tertarik kepada teater Inggeris datang berkunjung menonton teater Melayu, suatu rahmat! Tapi rasanya bagi saya, NST berminat kerana ianya dipentaskan oleh seorang Seniman Negara, maka wajarlah is diangkat dan disanjung, mungkin juga kerana Syed Alwi sendiri adalah seorang yang aktif di dalam teater Inggeris sebelumnya, dia juga dilatih di Amerika Syarikat untuk menjadi seorang journalist, maka sudah tentunya rangkaian jaringannya luas dengan para wartawan, apalagi dia adalah seorang otai(maaflah kerana memakai perkataan itu dengan sewenang-wenangnya) Walaupun mungkin otai itu boleh merujuk kepada seorang pakar atau rolemodel tetapi asalnya merujuk kepada orang lama atau orang tua, yang sekaligus mempunyai konotasinya yang tersendiri; seperti outdated, terkebelakang dan ketinggalan zaman. Aku sendiri sudah dikategorikan didalam kategori kertu, maksudnya sudah tua, atau lebih dikatakan sudah lanjut usia atau sedah senja dengan bahasa yang manisnya.

Sebenarnya aku pernah dikunjungi Syed Alwi ketika kami sedang mementaskan Tanah Serendah Sekebun Bunga pada tahun 2204 di Stor Teater DBP, waktu itu dia datang bersama Rohani Yusoff, juga seorang otai dunia lakonan dan pengarahan teater, terkenal dengan drama-drama Nordin Hassan. Jadi malam sabtu yang baru lalu, kali kedua aku melihat Syed Alwi secara dekat, walaupun akau tidak mengenali beliau secara dekat.

Sebenarnya, kedua-dua ulasan yang dikemukan oleh Ku Seman dan Hizreen valid, Ku Seman lebih melihat kepada isinya atau falsafahnya, manakala Hizreen pula melihat dari sudut fizikalnya, yang juga penting didalam sesebuah pementasan. Aku juga pernah diberitahu yang teater Syed Alwi tidak mementingkan aspek-aspek dramatik di dalam persembahan. tetapi akau rasa itu samasekali tidak benar, kerana aspek-aspek tersebut ada hadir di dalamnya. Mungkin dia tidak mementingkan aspek-aspek teknik di dalam pementasan karyanya.

Mungkin Tok Perak gagal menarik penonton teater popular yang lebih condong ke arah teater muzikal yang dipengaruhi oleh PGL dan P.Ramlee, walaupun begitu, ianya ada didalam kelompok teaternya yang tersendiri, sama juga dengan teater tari Mak Yong, ianya hanya tertumpu kepada penonton yang faham aspek bahasanya. kerana bahasanya yang menjadi sentral didalam penceritaan, termasuk elemen komedinya. Sebenarnya aspek mengadap rebab yang juga menjadikan teks persembahan penting, seringkali dilihat sebagai sebuah tari. Inilah yang salah disertikan oleh sekolah-sekolah tari di Malaysia, kemudiannya mengambil aspek mengadap Rebab sebagai sebuah tariannya yang tersendiri.

Teater melayu itu sebenarnya berada di dalam keadaan totaliti, keseluruhannya dan tidak berpecah-pecah, dan ini sudah lama yang diperkatakan oleh pengkaji seperti Winsteadt, Sheppard dan Brandon serta mungkin juga William Malm. Tetapi konsep inilah yang dihancurkan sendiri oleh pengkaji-pengkaji Malaysia yang tidak semestinya Melayu. Mereka yang memisahkan elemen-elemen tersebut untuk menjadikan diri mereka pakar di dalam bidang masing-masing, samada teater tradisi, etnologi dan sebagainya.

Pendekata, kita perlu membawa penonton dan pelajar kita kepada suatu kefahaman tentang bentuk, falsafah dan fizikal and mental teater kita!

Tok Perak lacks drama

NST 2008/07/03

HIZREEN KAMAL found Tok Perak: Yang Mencari Dan Menanti — Drama Sepintas Lalu lacking in many ways. TOK Perak: Yang Mencari Dan Menanti — Drama Sepintas Lalu, based on playwright Datuk Syed Alwi Syed Hassan’s play Tok Perak, which was written and staged twice in the ’70s, both at Panggung Eksperimen, University of Malaya, resumes the tale of the Malay medicine man. 

It is about middle-aged Tok Perak from the rural Malay heartland, who peddles his wares on the street. His medicine supposedly promotes virility, making him a popular figure.

Tok Perak is in a quandary though, as he has not changed with the times. He is in a country which has progressed. 

Though he is sincere in selling his medicine, Tok Perak is thwarted by government agencies and society which are alien to him. He never thought that it would be difficult to sell his medicine in this modern setting. He is asked to leave by various quarters when he attempts to set up shop. He does not understand the need to have a permit, licence or even a stall, and the fact that he needs to pay a “commission” to the officers in charge, leaves him bewildered, as it was not necessary in the past.

Trapped in the transition between tradition and modernity, he, in the end, chooses the latter.

This is a noble effort by 78-year-old Syed Alwi who had twice received the National Literature Award (Drama) as well as the 2002 Anugerah Seniman Negara. He puts forth a message that affects many quarters from the current generation.

However, with the advent of computer technology, especially the Internet and the new media, many are well aware of the message Syed Alwi is presenting. Some may say that the issues may be old, but they are still relevant. 

Like Tok Perak alluding to the erosion of traditional values in modern Malay society, Syed Alwi retained the syair and gurindam recitations (syair and gurindam are traditional Malay poems) in the play for the prologue.

At the opening of the play, the audience was mesmerised by the vocals of theatre first-timer Rozita Rohaizad, daughter of legendary actress Mariani, when she sang the syair.

Even though, she did not appear on stage, it was apparent that the individual behind the sultry vocals was her, as it closely resembled that of her popular aunt, the late Saloma.

Another element was the use of nazam (a form of syair) in between scenes for the narration. This aspect of the play was exceptionally entertaining. Aswara student Fauziah Suhain sang the nazam while strumming the gambus (a traditional guitar). She was assisted by her collegemate, Mohd Adlizah Baharudin, on the gendang (a traditional drum).

With Fauziah’s soaring voice, she managed to bring out Tok Perak’s feelings and his treacherous journey.

Sabri Yunus (who played Tok Perak), however, did not quite embrace the character. Lacking depth, there were several funny scenes which reminded me of his character, Wan Ismail Golok, in the highly popular ’80s show Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu instead. 

In almost every scene, Sabri kept on walking in circles and saying his lines. I wonder whether it was his nerves acting out, or the fact that he was trying to use as much of the stage as possible. Either way, it was disturbing. 

Perhaps if he could stand at one spot long enough and deliver his lines, the audience could hear him clearer.

It is a known fact that for an actor to progress, he would have to try out different roles, the more challenging the better. However, Sabri should stick to comedy for now, as he naturally excels in it.

Angeline Tan, who takes on multiple antagonistic roles in this production, should be applauded for her effort. It is not easy to play different roles. However, there seemed to be little improvement in her acting from her days in Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu, up till now.

Zaibo, famed for his comedy in the highly-rated TV series Spanar Jaya, was also in the cast. Appearing at the end of the play, his acting was commendable. 

Even Rozita, who had a role as one of Tok Perak’s many supporters, did live it up, albeit a little stiff. However, I was hoping that Rozita, who had two albums under her belt, would be given more opportunities to flex her vocal abilities.

Other aspects of the play that could be improved further would be the costumes and design, sound system as well as the set.

Angeline wears different coloured tunic tops to represent the various antagonists in the play. The idea behind it is lauded but the tunic looked like it wasn’t even sewn — more like a piece of cloth with a hole for her head.

Apart from Tok Perak’s piece of cloth spread out to display his medicine, the stage was only done up with several fabrics hanging from ceiling to ground as the backdrop.

The sound system remained much to be desired. At the opening scene when Rozita rendered the syair, her great vocals were marred by the echoes. It was difficult to make out the lyrics. Scratchy sounds were also apparent when the special effects for the typhoon and heavy rain came on.

There was repetition throughout this play. Almost every opening scene sees Tok Perak selling his wares, and his assistant attending to his customers. It was a tad tiring, akin to watching reruns. 

Tok Perak: Yang Mencari Dan Menanti — Drama Sepintas Lalu lacked the pull factor to draw audience.

Understandably, Syed Alwi, who also directed this production, may have wanted it to be a more artsy outing. Be that as it may, it is important to set a certain standard for theatre and stage plays, especially among the younger generation who is already exposed to numerous entertaining theatre works, whether they are by known or unknown directors.

The scenes were monotonous and there was hardly any dramatic moment, even though Angeline tried her best to craft some, through her multiple characters.

Syed Alwi is a renowned playwright and writing is what he obviously does best. Perhaps, he should just stick to writing and leave the directing to someone else.

A minimum of RM100,000 is needed to produce and stage a play at Teater Perdana DBP. It is a wonder how much was spent for this particular production.


Bin Basra said...

ha, betul tu Dr. Zul. Teater Asia merupakan 'total theatre'. ia tidak terpisah-pisah bahkan membentuk suatu keseluruhan samada dari segi 'form' mahupun 'content'. form yang total dan jitu itu menjelaskan kejituan 'content' yang membawa paradigma falsafah bangsa pengamal sesautu bentuk teater tradisi Asia itu. saya berjalan juga Dr. Zul tapi karya dan research tetap jalan. buku Kuda Kepang Mabuk i akan dilancarkan pada 8 ogos nanti. Sekarang ni sibuk buat research di Bali. So, kalau rasa boring datang la jumpa i di Bali. See You.

Pegawai Khalwat said...

Teringat kehebatan lakonan Allahyarham Ahmad Marbawai sebagai Tok Perak, walau bukan di layar pentas.