Nyonya Memoirs – first live environmental Peranakan show in Melaka (iPhonegraphy)
It caught my attention when the ad in the mall stated it to be the first 360° musical show, not only in Melaka but Malaysia’s. The show is the product by the familiar Malaysian film director, James Lee whom I admire of the short films he directed (read about his introduction of this play in his Facebook too).
Last week I got an entry ticket from my friend and invited to see, I would say ‘participate’ in this show happening in Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall. The musical show is about the love story of the young couple, a poor Baba and tailor ‘Zhang Min’ and a pretty Nyonya ‘Bao Zhu’ from a wealthy family, set scene to the 20s of Melaka, yet something different than the usual musical show or play I had been.
When I entered the show, I realized everyone was standing. There was no seating arranged for the guests. It was a garden-like open area with a narrator in the center doing the talk while the other actors and actresses wearing of the 20s Baba and Nyonya, and some Chinese costumes and danced around us.
The stage was in fact around us. Shops like photo shop, tailor, sundry shop, street food stalls, fortune teller booth from the 20s of previous century were setup as of the street of Melaka. After the introduction, we could visit each stall or shop and interact with the actors and actresses, behaved and talked like they were in the 20s.
The play then continued. The use of lighting, actors and actresses would directly or indirectly guide us to the spot where the play progressed. There were spots decorated like the interior of a Baba and Nyonya house, including a main hall, backyard, dining area, kitchen and bedroom (what is showing on the picture above was a feast setup, called Tok Panjang in dining hall).
The story took place in all area of the theater, so-called 360° setup, and involved the participation of the audiences. Such as in a scene when the main actor ‘Zhang Min’ was in dilemma of proposing to ‘Bao Zhu’ whom he admired, he seek the help from the audience for advise. A guest from Klang was sporting and was invited to the front and taught ‘Zhang Min’ how to propose. In addition to that, the guest’s wife was too invited to the front and the guest demonstrated proposal to his wife by kneeing and said the magic words. Everyone laughed.
There was also a scene when a kid from the audience was requested by a messenger of ‘Bao Zhu’ to pass a letter to ‘Zhang Min’. The kid was requested to walk and deliver the letter to the tailor’s shop of ‘Zhang Min’. He did so and ‘Zhang Min’ then replied the letter by passing it to another elderly from the audience and requested the elderly to deliver a letter back to ‘Bao Zhu’. Of course, the elderly was intercepted by the evil family members of ‘Bao Zhu’ before he could decide what to do with the letter in his hands.
It was a happy ending for sure, and the final scene was a traditional Baba and Nyonya wedding ceremony of ‘Zhang Min’ & ‘Bao Zhu’. It took place outside the theater. A lovers’ bridge was setup in the shopping mall for the scene, which drew the attention of many shoppers too, and joined in the play. They missed the front part in the theater anyway 🙂
The dances and songs during the play were definitely outstanding. I enjoyed very much. The actors, actresses and the back-end people were putting a lot of effort for the show and doing a splendid job. The show itself is a fresh experience to me and beyond my expectation. I would recommend to all friends whether you are from Melaka or visitors here, to enjoy such a wonderful play, at the same time, understand more about the Baba and Nyonya culture of Melaka.
A few things to note about this show. It is conducted in Mandarin and some Bahasa language. English translation however, is displayed on the many TVs hanging at the walls of the theater.
It’s good to have your camera with you because you are alright to snap photos with the actors, actresses and the setup. However, please do not fire the flash during the play 🙂
The show is on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the 3rd floor Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall (of the GSC cinema’s block), and it’s only until mid of July. So don’t miss it, grab your ticket and join the fun!
May all bEE happy 🙂