This year, director Shamsudin Othman, or better known as Dinsman, has an ambitious plan to bring a staging of Dato’ Dr Usman Awang’s story of ‘Uda dan Dara’. More ambitious than that, he also plans to bring a life sized paddy field right into the heart of the concrete jungle that is Kuala Lumpur. The play will be a musical drama adaptation of the story set in a paddy field.
Dinsman has mentioned that he and his team has done a similar production of the story 2 years ago. It was done in a real paddy field in Sungai Besar, Sabak Bernam, in Selangor. This time, he plans to bring the paddy field into the city streets of Kuala Lumpur in order to keep the concept of ‘theatre within the paddy field’. “The concept of this is ‘theatre within the paddy field’. I intend to bring the concept. Therefore, it has to be staged within a paddy field”.
His motivation in bringing this drama in the form of a musical theatre is because of the script itself. There have been many adaptations of the story and he would like to inject his own creativity and put out his own take on the script that he likes. “There have been many people who have approached this script with many different directors at the helm with many different approaches. I have chosen to take the approach of ‘theatre within the paddy field’ and it represents my creativity as a director to choose this approach.”
Through bringing a paddy field into the city, Dinsman hopes that he will be able to showcase something different to city folks. People in the city may not have had the chance to see and appreciate the paddy. “We should get to know the origins of the rice that we eat daily.” Citizens will be able to see first-hand what paddy looks like before it is turned into the food that is a staple in many Malaysian’s diet.
Aside from being able to enjoy the art and concept of ‘theatre within the paddy field’, Dinsman also mentions that he will be incorporating installation art within the set of the musical. Audiences can expect decorations that are traditionally available in a real paddy field such as scarecrows and ‘obor-obor’. Audiences can expect a wonderful story of love between Uda and Dara and also the struggles of the farmers all while enjoying a setting that promises to stay true to an authentic paddy field.
Dinsman or Che Shamsudin Osman is a Malaysian poet, playwright and theatre practitioner Che Shamsudin Osman.
Among the many literary works of Dato’ Dr Usman Awang, ‘Uda dan Dara’ was a script that director Dinsman personally liked. Originally, he had planned the first production of the musical drama to be a tribute to Dato’ Dr Usman Awang. The initial plan was to stage a drama at the birthplace of the author which located in Kuala Sedili near Kota Tinggi in the state of Johor. The concept of the production would have seen the cast acting within the village itself with some scenes taking place inside of a traditional village house.
However, due to some unavoidable circumstances, Dinsman had to relocate the production to the state of Selangor. He had to rethink the concept of the drama and from there the concept of ‘theatre within the paddy field’ was made.
“When planning the production in Selangor, the hometown setting of Usman Awang is no longer present. So the concept of theatre within the hometown of Usman Awang and showcasing scenes within the village could not be realised. So I tried looking for other strengths within the script and what is suitable for the location and ultimately, it is the story about the struggles of the farmers.”
He also mentioned that he had chosen to stage the musical drama on a paddy field in order to generate an extra effect in the aspect of the story that he decided to focus on. Being set to perform in the state of Selangor, Dinsman was able to use what was around him for inspiration on how to stage the production, choosing to use the rich paddy fields that were present there. “We went to Tanjung Karang, Sekinchan, to Sungai Besar looking for a suitable location and finally settling on the most suitable place which was Sungai Besar”.
The production of the musical drama in Selangor was an astounding success with over 2000 people coming to watch during the night of the performance. Riding off the reception of the previous staging, Dinsman agreed to bring this unique and inspiring concept of ‘theatre within the paddy field’ right to the heart of Kuala Lumpur. He hopes that with bringing the paddy fields into the centre of the city would pique the interest of the many city folk and admire the beauty of it while enjoying the staging of a great piece of literature.
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