Friday, 30 May 2014

'Homecoming': Family matters

Keeping together: Newcomer playwright Andy Darrel Gomes turns to family values in his play, Homecoming.

Keeping together: Newcomer playwright Andy Darrel Gomes turns to family values in his play, Homecoming.

Love and forgiveness takes centre stage in local play Homecoming.

MOST of us are familiar with the story of the prodigal son. For those who are not familiar with the tale, the parable of the prodigal son is about a son who goes astray, indulges in sin and vice, falls to despicable depths and returns home, repentant. Much to the dismay of the other brother, the father receives his errant son with open arms and throws a feast.

It is essentially a story about love and forgiveness and most importantly, family.

And it is exactly this that Andy Darrel Gomes, a speech and drama teacher, wants audiences to bring back with them when they watch Homecoming, a play the 24-year-old penned and directed.

“I wanted to reach out to Malaysians with something that is universal, and family and love is universal. It is what we call the people language,” said Gomes.

Inspired by the parable of the prodigal son, Homecoming, which opens today, is a collaborative work between Gomes’ Thirty Fold Productions and Youth With A Mission Philippines to raise funds for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban, Philippines.

Magician Zlwin Chew and electric violinist Dr Joanne Yeoh and Dennis Lau will be part of the opening act for the event.

To make the story relevant and relatable, Gomes kept it “as home as possible” and gave it a modern twist with a “pinch of surrealism”.

“I wanted to skip out of the dimension of realism and get into things which are a bit more abstract. So, in the play, there are times when as much as it is real, there is also a very disturbing dimension of things coming in and going out of place,” the aspiring playwright pointed out.

An ardent admirer of the works of the late filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad, Gomes said he tailored his story around her scriptwriting style.

“She doesn’t believe in creating something, but she believes in adapting things from real life. For Yasmin, to adapt things from real life is to make yourself small and when you make yourself small, you suddenly become bigger,” asserted Gomes.

Unlike the original story, there are three brothers instead of two and we get to see the mother as well.

Thasha Gunaseelan, who plays the mother, identifies well with her character.

“The kancheong-ness (panic) and everything else is very much me. And I find it very interesting that no matter what goes on, it looks like she rules and she’s the power behind the men. But you will see scenes where she seeks comfort from her husband.

“He’s the person who actually runs the show and he’s the one who brings it all together in the end,” explained Thasha.

And for the 32-year-old drama trainer, Homecoming, is about the freedom one enjoys in the family to be their true self and not be judged for it.

“Regardless who you are and what sort of person you are in the world, you know that there’s family that loves you for just you,” said Thasha.

And this made the rehearsal process even more delightful for Victor Chen who will be playing one of the sons.

“We all come from different backgrounds, but when we are together, all that doesn’t matter anymore. Just like in any family, we can be ourselves,” said Chen, 20.

In a society where family is losing its value and individualism is prized, Homecoming serves as a reminder on the importance of the family unit. And maybe, just maybe, as it was for Gomes, the play will be a “supernatural journey” for the audience.

Homecoming opens today at the EX8 Hall, City Harvest Church, Subang Jaya, Selangor and will run till June 1. Showtime: 8pm (May 30-31, June 1) and 3pm (May 31). Tickets are priced at RM30 (adults) and RM25 (students). Free admission for children 10 years and below. For ticketing, donations and inquiries email or call 0163550393/0149314909.

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Homecoming , theatre , City Harvest Church , fund raising , Youth With A Mission , Typhoon Haiyan , Andy Darrel Gomes


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