Cakap Dapur - R & D Stories

Home grown artiste collective, Five Arts Centre celebrates its 30th anniversary while honouring founding member Kishen Jit, on the 10th anniversary of his demise with Leow Puay Tin’s Cakap Dapur: R & D Stories.  Adapted from a workshop, the text modules for this script have been derived from a 3-day workshop on research and documentation specifically for arts practitioners, which Leow organised with Professor Mohd Anis Md Nor, a subject expert in the field of performance studies, as the facilitator in December last year. Directed and Performed by renowned theatre director, Chee Sek Thim, Cakap Dapur takes the audience through a series of text modules touching history, culture and identity using a classroom lecture as its format.

“Using alternative texts - that are not play scripts -  to construct performances is a familiar process for me as many of the performances I have directed in the past were constructed from these kinds of texts,” shares Chee who enjoys working unconventional material for stage acting because he appreciates the flexibilities and possibilities it opens up.

Leow Puay Tin and Chee Sek Thim worked together on Cakap Dapur.

As the title suggests,  Cakap Dapur is aiming for the heart via the Malaysian 3rd base before the home plate – the stomach, “The phrase Cakap Dapur appears in one of the modules and refers to the kind of free-flowing conversations that happen in the kitchen, over food; the kind that creates and strengthens communal ties”

A 3-month rehearsal process was conducted as a laboratory for an experimental way of working which involved the performer/director giving a series of “progress report performances” to a panel of proxy-directors who will provide necessary feedback. Readings were performed to audiences at Penang and Kuala Lumpur last year.

“The workshop and the performance are separate exercises. This is a format I set up as a director of this performance, because I am directing myself, I am not able to look at my own performance with an outside eye and to make judgements with the necessary distance. I do this to open up the process in order to get feedback and as a device for some check and balance. I worked on the text on my own for two weeks and I would present what has been worked on and garner feedback, and then go back and rehearse taking into consideration what has been said,” he said.  

Chee says the stories all originated from Dr Anis’s experiences as a professor, with most of them being humorous, although there are some stories that are quite touching. Staging will be quite minimal, with the main prop being a chair in which Chee will sit to tell the stories.

“The original workshop was about the relevance and need for artists to engage in research and documentation when they develop their work. Because Dr Anis is a very good storyteller, he was able to deliver course material in a way that is very engaging, using stories to illustrate and to clarify,” shared the 51-year old, who believes theatre has the facility to re-present key ideas and make them accessible to more people in a way that is friendly, enjoyable yet challenging.

Catch Cakap Dapur: R & D Stories at Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) from 5th-8th February 2015. Tickets are priced at RM30.