Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sirah Muzikal

Watched Sirah Muzikal yesterday at an auditorium in Putrajaya. It was part of an effort to present an alternative, family-friendly edutainment for the public. Though in the end we were quite confused who the target audience actually was :/

The overall content was good but perhaps too ambitious. In trying to slot in a lot of Islamic history, from the period before Islam was born to the fall of the Ottomans, capturing the audience attention was forgotten. Well, having hard facts thrown at you for something like 3+ hours was exhausting. Truthfully, I lost interest by the fourth/final act.

It also doesn't help that no background story was given about which period was being staged. I spent a majority of the third act trying to figure out from which part of history the name King Solomon came front (of course the first thing that came to mind was something about King Solomon's Mine LOL). This is where the confusion about which type of audience they are targeting came in. Maybe they were assuming that since the majority of the people who came were people who are active in Islamic youth movements (and thus have been attending tazkirah sessions that usually come with a bit of Islamic history sprinkled in), the director felt that there was no need to present a clear indication of which historical events they were acting out. Unfortunately for me, being a non-participant in all these extra-curricular activities and the last clear Islamic history lesson I remember learning was from Tamadun Dunia lessons in Form 4, I was lost. I feel that if they want to bring this to the public, they need to account for the fact that the majority of us probably would need some refresher in the events surrounding Islamic history. Even the people I came with (who I know to be active in the usrah circles) were quite lost on which historical events they were referring to in the final act.

Technical glitches were also aplenty. The most glaring was the sound system where
(1) some actors' mics were not functioning, and thus the audience was lost about what's actually happening;
(2) sometimes the background music drowned the actors' voices
Props movement also took a lot of time, even when the props were only like three chairs and several side tables. Perhaps they did not get the opportunity to practise a lot at the official venue?

However, the most annoying aspect of the whole performance was not the theater itself, but the conduct of the audience. The organisers should have warned the audience to refrain from using flash photography during the performance! I know that probably most of the audience have never attended a theatrical performance at Istana Budaya, but didn't they have the common sense to see that using flash in a dark area can be distracting? It's hard to watch the stage with all these flashes going on D: And what's worse was the fact that the official photographers for the events (I'm guessing they were since they were the ones near the stage and all) were guilty of the same conduct!

In an effort not to sound as if I only have negative things to say about this performance, I do applaud the nasyid artistes they invited as part of the musical. Their voices were astounding to hear live. And the actors did a good job ad-libbing, adding much humour to what would otherwise be a quite dry show.


On another note, Percy Jackson & The Olympian series has been an interesting read. In fact, I finished all five books last weekend. Though it's not as funny as the Artemis Fowl series, it does have its moments. It was fun trying to figure out which Greek legend was going to materialise next in the series.

I could see why Hollywood chose to adapt these series to the big screen. They have heroes going on quests, gods going to war and all those action stuff that would translate well on the screen. Also, lots of monsters to be rendered by CGI :D

The continuation of the series will be out this month I believe, and I think I will try to get my hands on them.

Friday, October 01, 2010


I've picked up a bad habit - starting a new book without finishing the one I'm currently reading. But it's so hard to resist taking a peek at the first few pages after having read a compelling review of the book. And once I've started reading, it's quite hard to stop. The book I'm talking about is Room by Emma Donoghue (pronounced don-a-who).

Tell me this synopsis doesn't intrigue you:

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world....

It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack's imagination-the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma's clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it's the prison where she's been held since she was nineteen-for seven long years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside her own desperation—and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely....

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience-and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

- Official Website for Room

If you think this is fictional and will only happen in books or an episode of Criminal Minds, think again. Only a couple of years ago there was the case of Josef Fritzl from Austria - a man who imprisoned his own daughter in his basement and fathered seven children with her. It's scary isn't it, knowing that there are monsters who appear normal and live happily among us...

Anyway, back to the book. Failing to resist temptation, I've started reading and am currently in the middle of Ma's escape plan from Room. Since the book is written from Jack's point of view, the sentences are mostly short, but sometimes can be confusing. It's easy to get frustrated with Jack for not cooperating with Ma on her escape plan, but who could blame him? He's only five, and his whole world is Room. He thinks everything else is just TV.

Reading this has caused me mixed feelings - frustration at Jack, anger at Old Nick (the villain), and respect for Ma who is trying so hard to raise a son in her condition. Definitely would recommend this book to people who would like to read something different.

Do visit the website, if only to get an idea what Room looks like. There's a trailer for the book (and here I thought trailers are only for movies haha). Oh, there's even a special font for Jack's handwriting. It's definitely not something that anyone would use in minutes of meetings haha.