Musings: Lim Soon Heng of KL Shakespeare Players
by Lim Soon Heng of KL Shakespeare Players
KL Shakespeare Players (KLSP) had a good and rewarding experience not just developing the storytelling version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (for 7 to 11 year old children) but also in performing it at the Festival in September 2017.
We came up with a very good product – that was fun to perform and engaging for the audience – because DiverseCity trusted us to develop it.
Without this trust, which also came with seed funding, we would not be able to work with a British consultant who has deep insights into delighting children and entrancing them in a world that is at once familiar and different.
The fruit of the support did not end in September 2017 when the festival folded its banners and buntings away, and guest-performers and festival goers went back home to their daily routine.
The Festival Director helped to organise for KLSP in the months after the Festival to travel the show to international schools and to ten public primary schools with support from Yayasan Hasanah and the Ministry of Education.
As a result, A Tale that Must be Told: Macbeth was performed six times in DiverseCity 2017, but since then another 30. This storytelling has more legs yet and we think we would have chalked up 40 performances by year end which is both astounding and gratifying.
Why do we do this?
As Peter Holland, the current chair of the International Shakespeare Association, pointed out, children as young as three should be exposed to Shakespeare. The Bard has wonderful stories. And in our experience, he is correct. The only reason young children are not exposed to the theatre and Shakespeare is because adults don’t take them there.
So little is being done for young audiences in this country. Arts education is minimal. Yet, it is an important aspect of formal education to develop critical thinking, creativity and the celebration of diversity.
By targeting a younger audience, KLSP is also helping create capacity now and into the future: these young people, exposed to good theatre, will be the ones to carry on the performing arts tradition as performers or benefactors; they will also be the ones whose butts will be in theatre seats and whose hands will applaud deserving performances.
We’ve got to get’ em when they are young, so that they continue being involved in the theatre when they mature.
KLSP is a very small company owned and run by two people. If it were given necessary resources, it would, as a theatre-in-education, extend to performing the classics as these form the basis of stage productions of a particular tradition.
Visit KL Shakespeare Players website here: http://klshakespeare.com.my and the Facebook album for this show.