23 Sept 2005 - MALAYSIA, Johor Bahru - The crowd was merely a handful, but the applause was that of a thousand spectators when the cast of Death of a Warrior was introduced at the end of the 90-minute play.
And it was no wonder, because despite the poor turnout, the Cape Poetics cast clearly gave their very best in staging the English translation of the play Matinya Seorang Pahlawan composed by late writer Usman Awang.
The play, which depicted the legendary conflict between Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat, utilised varied use of silat movements with highly lyrical English dialogue of Shakespearean influence.
The play, staged in Johor Baru for the Johor Society for Performing Art’s Second Johor Arts Festival 2005, revolved around Hang Tuah, the great loyal warrior of Malacca who was unjustly condemned to death by his Sultan.
An angry Hang Jebat, who sought vengeance for his best friend, was then shocked when he realised that Hang Tuah was still alive.
However, Hang Tuah had come back with one mission, which was to kill Hang Jebat under the orders of the Sultan. He had come to kill the very friend who had arisen to avenge his “death.”
The multi-racial Malaysian cast was made up of Himanshu Bhatt as Hang Jebat, Noor Izwan Mohamad (Hang Tuah), Lim Yao-Han (Hang Kasturi), Philip Yeoh (narrator), Jamal Ismail (Hang Lekir), Effendi Abdul (Hang Lekiu) and Mior Shafeerul Mior Abdullah and Zulkifli Jalil as the spirits of the Taming Sari.
Also bringing life to the play was Vivian Adelene Adram as the besotted Dang Wangi and Kavitha Kaliappan (lady-in-waiting).
While Universiti Malaya Malay Arts Unit head Prof Datin Rahmah Bujang translated the play, the actors underwent specialised silat training for several months before performing.
Martial arts members of Pertubuhan Seni Silat Pusaka Gayong Malaysia (Sungai Ara branch) were roped in to make the play more spectacular and exciting.
Silat master Dr Zainal Abdul Latiff principally choreographed the production while Rusli Hashim, customary chief and senior instructor of the society, did the additional choreography to make the play even more realistic.
In the programme note, director Jayaram Menon said the play was an attempt to convey the conflict between Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat, which reflected a clash between loyalty and open rebellion and dutiful submission and sincere vengeance.
“This social question is very much a dilemma even in our modern times. We hope our performance does ample justice to this great legend of Malacca and especially to the wonderful literary treasure Usman Awang has left for our people,” he said.
By MARSHA TAN
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