News Performing Arts

27 Years After Premiering In Malaysia, Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” To Return In Special Staged Reading

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 March — First staged in Malaysia by the Liberal Arts Society in 1989, Arthur Miller‘s Death of a Salesman makes a comeback as part of local theatre collective Theatrethreesixty‘s fundraiser this Saturday.

The script, originally written over 67 years ago, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play following its debut in 1949.

Willy Loman is a salesman. Despite the fact he has only mediocre sales, and can at time barely keep up with the payments to keep up with his equally materialistic neighbours – he has a wife, and two sons, so it can’t be all bad.

Sure, Biff can’t keep a job down and Happy is a womaniser, but they will surely be able to carry on his legacy. His wife, Linda, long suffering stoic, tries her best to keep everyone together.

Willy is also going a little mad from the pressure.

Through subsequent stagings, it continued to accumulate wide recognition — the 2012 Broadway revival for instance added an additional seven Tony’s to its tally of awards.

Lim Soon Heng also presents and produces for BFM.

Under the keen eye of National Arts Awards recipient Christopher Ling, Arthur Miller’s tale of a down and out salesman will reach Malaysian audiences on 26 March in a special reading led by seasoned performers Mano Maniam, Sandra Sodhy and Lim Soon Heng.

“Our 2016 season is meant to be reflective of the state of the nation,” explained Christopher, artistic director of Theatrethreesixty. “Death of a Salesman really does address where we are right now — not necessarily the politics but the economic situation.”

Spotted at the premiere of Anomalist Production‘s Home, Christopher has been keeping to Theatrethreesixty’s theme for 2016.

If 2015 saw More Life in the form of exuberant, immersive performances and a full run of Tony Kushner‘s Angels In America, this year the company is Stepping Out to find new ways to pull in Malaysian audiences and make them reflect more accurately on their current environment.

“As a theatre company, we have a responsibility to our audiences; we are responsible for what we put out there for people to watch, as well as how we want them to be moved. It’s become a real pipe dream to watch something, be so affected by it and have the effect last for many, many moons.”

Christopher first caught the Malaysian premiere almost three decades ago at Panggung Bandaraya. Starring Kee Thuan Chye as protagonist Willy Loman, the Malaysian production of Death of a Salesman left a strong impact on Christopher, who became a fan of the now-defunct Liberal Arts Society.

Now, who doesn’t know Mano Maniam?

For the exclusive one-night-only event, he’s scored some of Malaysia’s brightest performers including Colin Kirton of the Footstool Players, Michael Chen, Anrie Too and Ivan Chan. Also making a comeback to the stage is Natalie Heng, who last appeared in Teater Negri Samudra‘s Selamat Hari Natal, Natalie.

But don’t expect a standard sit-down reading.

“They’ll all be reading their scripts, but I’ve got my own, cunning way to do stage readings,” chuckles Christopher.

“Usually with readings you get people saying their lines, standing up and sitting down, but you know I can’t do that.”

Without giving too much away, there will also be a cellist on top of original music by Nick Choo.

Serving as fundraiser for their 2016 installment of Wearetheatrethreesixty, this reading of Death of a Salesman will introduce audiences to Theatrethreesixty’s new venue.

Formerly situated in Sparky DawgPhileo Damansara, the theatre company last year moved to Tommy le Baker in Sentul. This Saturday’s reading marks the first time the new location will open to the public.

Theatrethreesixty’s staged reading of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman will take place for one night only at 8;30pm on Saturday, 26 March 2016. Tickets for the reading are available in very limited numbers and can be obtained via Tixipro for a minimum donation of RM50. Ticket prices include light refreshments available from 7.30pm until doors open. Check out the event page for more details! 

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