KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 – Once upon a time, young children would gather in darkness as the village dalang told them about an age-old tale of darkness against light. Yes, darkness against light as these were the heroic legends and fiery myths brought to life by shadow puppetry or wayang kulit.
These days, however, the ancestral art form is a dying practice as children are more likely to be glued to their iPads today. But not all children have this luxury. For some, even where the next meal is coming from is a question.
For 25 students from the urban poor community though, this Sunday will see them having an opportunity to get in touch with their creative side.
As part of #seniMAD, a movement by Kakiseni to offer the underprivileged young people access to the arts, The Paper Cinema, a UK-based performance company, will conduct a workshop where these students, aged 10 and above, will get to work in groups, and learn the basics of art drawing, narrative and storyboarding, puppet design, and more.
Chong Wei Yung, Kakiseni’s Head of Public Relations, says, “Low Ngai Yuen, the Head of Kakiseni, saw The Paper Cinema at the Edinburgh Fest in 2013. So when British Council asked if we’d like to partner with them to bring The Paper Cinema to Malaysia, it was an immediate yes. We thought this would be a good opportunity to continue driving our #seniMAD movement.”
The Paper Cinema was founded in 2004 by Nicholas Rawling, Imogen Charleston and Christopher Reed. Together, they perform an inimitable mix of "live" animation and music around the world.
Fresh off a recent tour of Auckland, The Paper Cinema is in town from November 6-9 to perform Odyssey, which was selected as part of the British Council Showcase at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Using a seamless blend of music, animation, music, film and theatre, The Paper Cinema enthralls audiences with their version of the Homeric epic. The stage is divided into two areas of sight and sound.
On one side, Rawling and Charleston will choose from a huge stack of intricate paper drawings, cut-outs and ink illustrations to manipulate in front of a video camera. These visions are projected in real-time onto the big screen.
Simultaneously, on the other side of the stage, Reed and his team will use an array of instruments including keyboards and a violin, as well as more unusual material such as wind chimes and crumpled-up paper to construct the mesmerising soundscape. Together they make the magic happen.
The young children that make up the audience (not to mention quite a number of adults) may or may not be familiar with the story of the suitors that harass Penelope, faithful wife of that unfortunate hero Odysseus, but when The Paper Cinema represents this vile horde as a pack of wolves, well, that’s a story everyone understands.
Imagine wayang kertas (paper puppetry) rather than wayang kulit
This is just one of the many activities that Kakiseni has planned. Chong says, “The children and young people we are helping will be receiving free lessons and access to instruments to explore how far their talent and interest can stretch. To date, all 120 wishes under the #seniMAD initiative will be fulfilled by some 126 people and our partner Prudential Assurance Berhad has matched every pledge. This includes lesson fees, used instruments or/and time to teach. We are now working on getting funding for the serious talent in this pool to continue with their education.”
With any luck, The Paper Cinema performances, as well as the workshop, can inspire these children who love to sing, play the piano, dance and act to continue chasing their dreams. As they cannot afford acting or music classes due to their family’s impoverished situations, here’s hoping others in the audience will be similarly motivated to help out with both resources and opportunities.
After all, our children need to be able to dream and dream big, if they are to be our future.
The Paper Cinema Workshop
Date: Sunday, 9th November 2014
Venue: KuAsh Theatre, Pusat Kreatif Kanak-Kanak Tuanku Bainun, 48 Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
For more information, contact Wei Yung at [email protected] or 012-9886560