Malaysian Tamil to stage political drama

August 23rd, 2008 - 1:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Aug 23 (IANS) Indian origin playwright Arun Subramaniam will next week stage a politically charged drama that explores the suffering of a Malaysian Tamil politician’s family after he is assassinated.The drama is set in a middle-class Tamil household in a small northern Malaysian town.

The play is being staged by Firstworks playwriting banner, a programme aimed at nurturing a new generation of Malaysian writers with different voices and visions.

“There had been a number of (Malaysian) Indian politicians who have been assassinated over the last few years and that was a situation that interested me,” explained Subramaniam about the inspiration for the play “Hero”.

Subramaniam told the New Straits Times : “‘Hero’ is not so much a political whodunnit as it is an exploration of the family’s inner psychological worlds.”

The play is being directed by Instant Theatre Cafe’s Jo Kukathas and Zalfian Fuzi.

Playing the lead role of the dead man is Indi Nadarajah, known more for his comic roles.

Indi acknowledged that he is taking a risk by operating out of his performance comfort zone.

“There is comedy (in the play) but it is very dark compared to the comedy that I’m used to,” Indi said.

The story is told through the eyes of the politician’s wife, played by veteran Anne James, their 14-year-old son, and by the dead man himself.

The trio recount their story through dialogue and monologue, flashback and present-day events.

Over the course of 90 minutes, “Hero” strives to answer the questions that it poses, like who assassinated the politician and why, in an entertaining and thought-provoking fashion.

For Subramaniam, who currently resides in New Zealand, where he divides his time between writing and the practice of psychiatry, bringing “Hero” to fruition has taken almost three years of development and rewrites.

The script of “Hero” that is about to go into production was actually Subramaniam’s seventh draft.

“‘Hero’ has gone through a lot of changes over the years,” Subramaniam said during a recent interview. “I think Jo (Kukathas) has done some great work on it, just asking me to go deeper into the work and its characters. She has been demanding. I think this version is closest to my original intentions.”

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