PETALING JAYA, Feb 21 — Some plays have stood the test of time and in Malaysia, Jit Murad’s Gold Rain and Hailstones is one such example.
It tells the story of Amy, a liberal young Malay woman who returns home from abroad to tend to her ailing father.
While reconnecting with old pals Nina, Jay and Man, Amy struggles to belong and is faced with the confronting task of reexamining the notion of home and identity but discovers the choices and compromises those around her have made in the attempt to belong in their own country.
The play will hit the stage next month, more than two decades since it was first staged in 1993 to much acclaim and was named the best play of the year then.
Twenty-six years later, the themes remain relevant, prompting audiences to ask questions such as “How far have we come?” and “Have we changed one bit?”
After all, isn’t art the best barometer of social change?
“Maybe in the current climate, we feel more latitude to express individuality. Bear in mind, I rather hope it speaks to ‘mutts’ of all ilk and races,” Jit told Malay Mail in an email interview.
According to him, the idea for the play stemmed from his own experience of displacement.
“Something about the guilt and defensiveness of my own ‘dislocation’ as ordained by my own society and perhaps a subtler point that being ‘different’ was planted even before the overseas experience,” he said.
Gold Rain and Hailstones is presented by The Instant Café Theatre Company and marks the theatre company’s opening production for its 30th anniversary.
The top photo is from the 2006 production of Gold Rain & Hailstones, by Jit Murad, which featured the playwright himself with his friend Lin Jaafar playing multiple roles. They were both also the original cast of the original 1993 version. Lin said in 2006 of the characters they played: “I like characters that are like us – contradictory and ambiguous – think they know all the answers but actually don’t.” This time director Gavin Yap decided to cast four friends, Sharifah Amani, Redza Minhat, Ghafir Akbar and Farah Rani (bottom pic). Will double the actors double the contradiction and ambiguity? Or will they find some answers this time? www.dpac.com.my #goldrainandhailstones2019 #instantcafetheatre
It is directed by Gavin Yap and produced by Jo Kukathas, and stars Farah Rani, Ghafir Akbar, Redza Minhat and Sharifah Amani.
The play’s title is derived from the Malay proverb “hujan emas di negeri orang, lebih baik hujan batu di negeri sendiri” (gold rain in another country, better hailstones at home) which loosely translates to there is no place like home.
Asked how he sees the conversations surrounding identity and the meaning of home changing in 2019 compared to the early ‘90s, Jit said:
“I am forced to acknowledge that this was a young man’s play.
“Ultimately we arrive at reconciliation with our society in our own ways.”
For Malaysians who caught the play in 1993, Jit hopes they will watch the restaging with nostalgia and kindness.
Asked if he would change anything in the script in hindsight, the playwright said, “To be frank, no. It was what wrote at a certain point in my life.
“It’s become a fossil in quartz, as it were — and special to me for that fact.”
After Gold Rain and Hailstones, his debut play, Jit went on to write three other major works — The Storyteller (1996), Visits (2002) and Spilt Gravy on Rice (2002).
Fans will be delighted to know he is currently working on a new play and is excited to catch the restaging of his beloved play.
“I just hope I still have enough clout to get a fortnight of comps,” he joked.
Gold Rain and Hailstones will be staged at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) from March 1 until March 10.
Tickets are priced at RM50 and RM65, available at DPAC. Alternatively, call 03-4065 0001 or 03-4065 0002 to purchase.
You can also become an Instant Patron of the Arts by purchasing a Golden Ticket.
Priced at RM150, a Golden Ticket lets you choose the best seats in the house and is available at DPAC or by emailing [email protected]
For more details about Gold Rain and Hailstones, visit here.
Malay Mail is media partner for the play.