It was raining trash! It fell in slow-mo, adding to the growing heap on the ground. With the stage lighting, it looked almost pretty. This is Synesthesia—a theatrical indictment about a not-so-pretty subject: trash, trash, trash, and how humans and corporations can be so callous and careless about something they started. In a 15- minute-long performance that premiered at Gerak Angin, Malaysia’s first virtual performing-arts festival, which took place from September 16th to October 2nd, viewers were presented with a powerful enactment of a battle between Mother Earth, humans, and corporations.
天降垃圾了！掉落的垃圾就像慢动作一般，渐渐在地上堆积；因为有了舞台灯光的映衬，这个场景竟然还带着一丝美感……这是《Synesthesia》，一个以“垃圾”为主题的戏剧表演，以此控诉人类和一些企业对自己造成的环境问题的漠不关心。这场长达 15 分钟的表演在 9 月 16 日至 10 月 2 日举办的马来西亚首个虚拟表演艺术节 Gerak Angin 上首演，通过震撼人心的表演，向观众展示了地球母亲、人类与企业之间的战斗。
From a broader perspective, what Gerak Angin offered was a look at the ethnic soul of Malaysia from an arts-centric point of view. The Malay phrase gerak angin, literally translates as “move wind.” It originated from the Malaysian state of Kelantan and was aligned with the healing rituals and opening ceremonies of traditional performances like Mak Yong and Main Puteri. It was the term used to describe a musical overture intended to evoke spiritual energy among the musicians, dancers, the space, and the audience.
从更宏大的角度来看，Gerak Angin 通过其艺术表演，向观众演绎了马来西亚的民族灵魂。在马来语中，“gerak angin”意为“移动风”，起源于马来西亚吉兰丹州，指的是一些治疗仪式和玛蓉舞（Mak Yong）、Main Puteri 等传统表演中的音乐序曲，据称这种音乐可以唤醒音乐家、舞者、空间和听众的精神能量。
Things happened very fast for Sabera Shaik of Masakini Theatre Company and Vivek Menon of Surprise Ventures when they came up with the idea of a virtual arts festival. The two got together with Ramli Ibrahim of the Sutra Foundation to present a proposal to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture (MOTAC), which secured the funding they needed for performers and videographers. By August 2020, production began with the challenging deadline of an online premiere on Malaysia Day, September 16.
来自 Masakini Theatre 剧院公司的 Sabera Shaik，和 Surprise Ventures 的 Vivek Menon 从一开始有了举办虚拟艺术节的想法后，很快就将其付诸行动。他们找来 Sutra 基金会的 Ramli Ibrahim，一起向旅游、艺术和文化部(MOTAC)提出了这个想法，最终获得了邀请表演者和摄像师所需的资金。从 2020 年 8 月起开始制作，他们迎来的首个挑战就是要在马来西亚日（9 月 16 日）前完成，并于线上首映。
Viewers from Malaysia and around the world caught a diverse range of performances, including Chinese (Chinese Dance Odyssey) and Indian dance (Sangraha – A Tapestry of Bharatanatyam) steeped in the traditions of the respective country but given their own unique Malaysian flourishes; a music and dance performance by Sape musician Alena Murang and the Mupun Tauh Dance Troupe took viewers to the Kelabit highlands where Sabah and Sarawak are located, and where more than 50 different ethnic groups originate from.
这个艺术节为马来西亚和世界各地的观众呈献了丰富多样的表演，包括中国舞(《Chinese Dance Odyssey》）和印度舞（《Sangraha – A Tapestry of Bharatanatyam》），这些表演既别具各国的传统特色，又融入了独特的马来西亚元素；沙贝琴音乐家 Alena Murang 和 Mupun Tauh 舞蹈团的音乐和舞蹈表演带领观众领略了加拉毕高地风情，这里是沙巴州和砂拉越州所在地，生活着 50 多个不同的民族。
There was a reimagining of the children’s story Sang Kancil (How Beruang Lost his Tail). In another performance, giant drums and drummers with practiced choreography (Ju4Ji2) provided a stunning visual treat. And a powerful and poignant Malay drama (Sugeh) was cleverly accompanied by live music. The performers were mainly seasoned professionals from Kuala Lumpur. The performing space was their world, but now there was much to learn, with this move from offline to online
另外还有对童话故事《Sang Kancil：How Beruang Lost His Tail》的改编演绎。在另一场演出中，鼓手带着巨型的鼓和精彩编舞（《Ju4Ji2》），为观众带来一场视觉盛宴。另外还有生动有趣的马来语剧本（《Sugeh》）表演和现场音乐。表演者大多数是来自吉隆坡的资深艺术专业人士，对他们而言，舞台是他们熟悉的世界，但如今从线下走到线上，他们还有很多东西要学习。
Neil Nilson Felix, video director of the theatre segment, says, “What video offers is going where no member of an audience can go, with the accepted premise that the performance is still a “staged” performance. Synesthesia was a case in point when we got the camera point-of-view of trash falling from the top.”
戏剧部视频总监 Neil Nilson Felix 说：“视频录像的优势在于能够为观众提供一个他们无法企及的角度，前提是表演仍然是‘舞台上的演出’。《Synesthesia》就是很好的例子，观众可以从摄像机的角度，看到从天而降的垃圾。”
It took a pandemic with its lockdowns and mandatory regulations to impel the Malaysian government to back a performing arts festival that would not only assist the Malaysian art scene but also establish a platform that would be authentically and organically Malaysian. The fact that two of the organizers were prolific theatre practitioners added to the festival’s credibility. With this precedence, the hope for financial assistance from the private corporations as well may not be that far out of reach.
For Shaik, the artistic director for the theatre segment of the festival, it was a learning experience in many ways. “While working in this cauldron of mixed genre and untested professionals, many stage performers still struggle to translate their works into the blinking red-light of a recording camera,” she notes. “It is important to walk them through what is required because the camera is so unforgiving. This festival, I believe, can help develop a fully fledged arts festival that can give all Malaysian performers their time on the world stage through the eyes of a camera, and in this way, show the world what Malaysia and Malaysians are all about.”
负责戏剧部分的艺术总监 Sabera Shaik 认为，从很多方面来说，这都是一次获益匪浅的经历。她说：“和来自不同领域的人员一起合作时，许多舞台表演者仍在努力学习如何在镜头前呈现自己的作品。在镜头前表演会有更多挑战性，所以重要的是让他们充分了解所有要求。我相信这次的活动可以发展成为一个成熟的艺术节，通过镜头，让所有马来西亚表演者获得一个世界性的舞台，并通过这种方式，向世界展示马来文化和马来人的一切。”
Contributor: Jennifer Rodrigo
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li
Images Courtesy of S. Magendran