‘Mak Yong Titis Sakti’ fuses local traditional theatre with Shakespeare

‘Mak Yong Titis Sakti’ director Norzizi Zulkifli said local artistes should be more daring to experiment. — Picture courtesy of Instagram/Norzizi Zulkifli
‘Mak Yong Titis Sakti’ director Norzizi Zulkifli said local artistes should be more daring to experiment. — Picture courtesy of Instagram/Norzizi Zulkifli

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — Local theatre artistes should be more daring to experiment on combining local traditional works of art with international scripts to ensure that the art continues to be relevant and accepted, especially by the younger generation.

Realising the need to be more creative, director Norzizi Zulkifli has decided to use the approach in the Mak Yong Titis Sakti play which is set to go on stage from Jan 27 to Feb 4.

Norzizi said he had adapted the use of English from the romantic comedy ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, written by William Shakespeare, as a modern take on the Mak Yong play.

“My intention of staging the (new) Mak Yong play is not to change the work (of the original) but what I want to contribute is on how Mak Yong can be revived, or ensure it remains alive.

“So there is a need for traditional theatre to have a dash of modernism or something different, if not, the play may just die off,” he told Bernama during a preview of Mak Yong Titis Sakti at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac), recently.

Norzizi, who has more than 15 years of experience in theatre said he dared to take the risk by blending and finding compatibility between Mak Yong and Shakespeare’s work, and tried his best not to stray away from the original work.

“The hardest challenge was adapting the scripts, because a work like Mak Yong has its own set of characters and structure, and the same goes for Shakespeare’s work.

“I also need to find the suitable use of English in the Mak Yong play through the actors, so that the message of the story can be presented well to the audience,” he said, adding that the process took about three months to materialise.

Set amid a mystical forest inhabited by fairies and creatures from the sky, Mak Yong Titis Sakti tells the tale of conflict in love, namely perfect love, forbidden love and unrequited love.

In the play, Elza Irdalynna Khairil Anwar who plays the role of the prince of Indera Putra and Safia Hanifah as the prince of Iskandar Muda will speak in English.

Elza said she needed to memorise the script in English, besides having to maintain the movements from Mak Yong.

“For this one, the director decided to retain the Shakespearean English and I got within two weeks to memorise the lines, but then, also in terms of the diction and pronunciation, to me it’s a challenge even though I have more than 20 years experience in theatre,” she said.

Meanwhile, Safia said she had a unique way of memorising the English script while retaining her character in the play.

“When it comes to memorising Shakespeare’s scripts, it’s quite simple, however, it’s difficult when the characters we are portraying require different intonation. So I had to rewrite the script for ease of memorisation,” she said.

The two-hour play also features 15 other actors, including Zamzuriah Zahari, Asrulfaizal Kamaruzaman, Rosdeen Suboh, Shahanaros Shahruddin, Mardiana Alwi and Ezdianie Hayatie Omar.

Mak Yong Titi Sakti, produced by The Actors Studio (TAS) Seni Teater Rakyat, was first performed at KLPac in 2009, and is being re-staged this year as the curtain raiser to TAS’ 30th anniversary celebration next year. — Bernama

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