FIFTEEN years after it first premiered in Malaysia, students at International Islamic University Malaysia (UIA) want to tackle Alfian Sa’at‘s Madu II.
Leading the pack is final-year student Arief Hamizan and The Classroom Project, an initiative by a collective of students with keen interest in theatre. Together, they’ve gone on to provoke thought and discussion in their alma mater using theatre.
“Anyone can do theatre in a classroom,” promises Arief. “If we can prove to people on campus that it’s a highly-possible, even successful venture, then hopefully students here and elsewhere will feel compelled to do the same.”
Directing Alfian’s play (titled Madu Dua this time round), Arief wants to expose his peers to the play’s unique perspective.
Madu II revolves around two women who share a husband. Not exactly on the greatest of terms, both get embroiled in a colourful exchange when the man of the house is away.
“As a revisionist take on P. Ramlee‘s Madu Tiga, the play provides the point of view of women in polygamous marriages,” continues Arief. “In this play, the man is absent but the women still vie for his attention. It’s a rivalry that isn’t undercut by his actions.”
Alfian’s writings were last brought to life at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) five years ago, a revival which saw U-En Ng in the director’s chair. Don’t expect a familiar ride however.
Arief informs us that UIA has a strict code of conduct for those within its space. On the university’s stage, men and women cannot touch, women are not allowed to sing, and headscarves are compulsory.
“We try to choose plays which are unconventionally moral,” adds Arief.
“In a way, these restrictions move us away from exploring romance and pushes us into different areas of the human condition. There are so many facets of the human experience you don’t get to explore if you have the freedom to do anything.”
Set in intimate spaces (classrooms and seminar rooms are usually order of the day for the young collective), issues and messages bubble to the surface in Arief and company’s small stagings. Their decision to present Madu II for example was based on current behavioural trends among his peers.
“I think it’s a really interesting play to stage here; people on campus seem inclined towards marriage from a very young age,” observes Arief.
Self-funding this production utilising leftover funds from previous stagings, Arief and team will have to find ways to provide value to audiences, especially given their higher-than-average ticket prices.
On campus, students have historically paid approximately RM5.00 per ticket.
“Over the years, we’ve also been trying to increase the market value of stage plays on campus. We noticed that everyone else tends to follow suit, charging the rate we set during the previous semester — now it’s RM12 per student,” explains Arief.
Mia Sabrina Mahadir and Nik Waheeda, both fresh off KLPAC’s Tales from the Bedroom 3 last month, will be playing the roles of Suhaila and Kamariah next week.
“For Madu Dua, we wanted the possibility of working with as many people as possible,” laughs Arief. “Now that we’ve established some sort of following and a core group on campus, we wanted an injection of outside experiences as well as different points of view within theatre.”
Almost every other aspect of the play will be managed by students. From set design to tech, The Classroom Project gives UIA students an opportunity to be involved in theatre professionally within the confines of their own campuses.
Support the team by catching the staging at UIA next week, from 10 – 13 March 2016.
The Classroom Project presents Madu Dua at 8:30pm from 10 – 13 March. The original play by Alfiaan Sa’at directed by Arief Hamizan and starring Mia Sabrina Mahadir and Nik Waheeda will be staged at Seminar Room, CAC, UIA Gombak. Tickets are priced at RM12 (students) and RM20 (public), and can be obtained via Peatix.