Check out Puay Tin’s Play!

ACTOR Faiq Syazwan Kuhiri plays an ageing professor in Leow Puay Tin’s two-man play called Oppy & Professor Communitas. “I actually enrolled into college and graduated with a diploma in performance. So the experience that made me take up performing was that of a college student learning from professors/lecturers — very much like the professor in the play,” says Faiq.

Some may remember him in Five Arts Centre’s Baling Talks as well as the B.E.D series created by dance artist Lee Ren Xin. Faiq, who works as a digital producer for a radio station, is currently in the process of releasing his own original music with the band Terrer.

Some of that music will be in Leow’s play. “The songs that I contributed to the performance are those which I’ve worked on with my band. Follow us on Instagram @terrerdoh!”

Oppy & Professor Communitas sees the two main characters encounter each other as participant and trainer. Oppy (played by Iefiz Alaudin) is a happy-go-lucky young man who is feeling stuck as a freelance actor.

The trainer and professor break all the rules about being nice to people at workshops. Oppy wants to give people like Oppy a disciplined approach to making great works of art.

He is also a compulsive storyteller who helps his students “makan teori” (eat theory) by bundling it into the real-life stories he tells in class.

Suspicious of anything that could make him lose his freedom as an artist and an individual, Oppy resists the older man’s teachings. But along the way, he also begins to wonder if he isn’t missing out on something.

“What’s not to like about the professor! Sure, he may come off as garang and intimidating but I think this only comes from a place where he longs for a connection.

“It could be a connection with an individual or maybe even a community that shares his frustrations. It could also be frustration about the state of art in his country or society,” says Faiq about his character.

The play will be streamed via Cloudtheatres. As to whether doing an online performance is harder, Faiq says parts of it are harder.

“To be able to convey the intentions of the play and character is (to an extent) dictated by the technology you are working with.

“The greatest things about theatre is the immediacy and it being live. And in that context, the only tools that you can use (for an actor) are your voice and body. But this current reconfiguration has made it feel like I’m starting over.”

Much of the production falls to multimedia designer Syamsul Azhar who has worked across the fields of theatre, film and contemporary art as a multimedia and lighting designer. He often employs technology as a performative element in his works.

Over the years, this Film and Digital Media graduate has collaborated on numerous performances with Five Arts Centre — particularly in the works of Mark Teh.

In 2017, Syamsul directed **2080 — a performance consisting of projection, sound, lighting and set, with no human performers — in collaboration with a team of designers and theatre practitioners.

He is a part of “sans”, a loose interdisciplinary collective of artistes creating works for performance and exhibition.

Most recently, Syamsul was the technical director for Di Situ: An Exhibition (2021), curated by Low Pey Sien at KongsiKL.

For this online play, he says there are two set-ups in terms of equipment. “We started rehearsals during the Movement Control Order (MCO), so it was just all of us in our own homes, behind our computers and some software with the Internet.

“During that time we didn’t know when MCO was going to end. Communication was the toughest during this time. Now that we are allowed to be at work and together under one roof, the set-up has add-ons such as audio and camera equipment.

“The equipment was planned according to the situation — allowing the performers to be in the same room but socially distanced.

“Around 70 per cent of the live performance are streamed, with 30 per cent pre-recorded videos. Five Arts Centre now looks like a cyber cafe with all sorts of cables running around the floor and from the office!”

Syamsul got into the performing arts field in Sunway University back in 2007, where Leow and Mark Teh were his lecturers.

“I remember we had a class where we had to do wayang kulit and I was the Dalang — that feeling as a performer has never gone away.

“I don’t really like performing on stage with an audience because it is scary. But behind a screen is something a little different. The last performance I did in front of an audience was with Marion D’Cruz in Terbalik… mesti kena mata in 2017.”

Oppy & Professor Communitas streams on April 2 (8.30pm) and April 3 (3pm & 8.30pm) via the Cloud Theatres website. Tickets are ‘pay as you like’ of RM15, RM25 or RM50. Visit for details.

N.B. This article appeared in parts in the New Straits Times

Filed under Arts
Subhadra Devan

A journalist who has been writing about culture, arts and heritage since the 1980s. She is herself gobsmacked to have started the Sunday arts pages for English newspapers in Malaysia, in the new millennium. The passion for these genres rages on.

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