Pitapat Theatre’s 'Kakak' is bound for the International Theatre Festival of Kerala in India

Theatre show 'Kakak' by Sabah-based Pitapat Theatre is part of the International Theatre Festival of Kerala in India later this month. Kota Kinabalu-born Singapore-based actress Zizi Hau (pictured) stars in the show with Seng Soo Ming. Photo: Loh Boo Him

Kakak by Pitapat Theatre is all set to appear at the International Theatre Festival of Kerala in India later this month.

This marks the furthest the Kota Kinabalu, Sabah-based theatre company will travel to since it was founded in 2012 by Negri Sembilan-born Seng Soo Ming, who is an actor, director, playwright and theatre educator.

If you remember, Pitapat Theatre only made its Klang Valley debut in March 2016 with the thought-provoking theatre show An Enemy Of The People.At The Moment, which played at DPac in Petaling Jaya.

In Kota Kinabalu, Pitapat Theatre has been actively promoting stage productions with early shows Wanted! (2013) and Die Die Tak Bayar (2013) giving it local audience support to build on.

In the early days of 2019, Kakak looks to take Pitapat Theatre places. 

Kakak, directed by Seng, will play a pre-tour run (Jan 18 and 19) at the Now Theatre space in Kuala Lumpur before it premieres to an international audience at the G. Sankara Pillai Cultural Complex in Thrissur, Kerala.

The funds collected from the KL series will partially cover the international travel and touring cost to take the Pitapat team to the International Theatre Festival Of Kerala, which runs from Jan 20-26.

Kakak, adapted from French dramatist Jean Genet’s The Maids (1947), stars Seng and Kota Kinabalu-born Singapore-based actress Zizi Hau. Their characters earned them the Best Leading Actor and Actress awards at the 15th ADA awards in 2017. Seng also won the Best Production Design award.

The ADA awards is a Chinese award ceremony recognising pure drama performance being held in Malaysia.

Kakak was well-received by KL audiences for its dark and close-to-home themes when it was first staged at KLPac in 2017 before having a short run in Kota Kinabalu and finally enjoying a successful staging at the 2017 Taipei-based Tua-Tiu-Tian International Festival of Arts.

Kakak is a multi-lingual production, performed in English, Malay and Cantonese with English surtitles.

It tells a story of two housemaids who intend to murder their mistress. But unlike The Maids, Kakak, which is one of the six international works selected to perform at the upcoming International Theatre Festival of Kerala, does away with the mistress character and the two female maids are now a man and woman who speak different languages.

"The conflict arises out the differences in language and the narrative tension," says Seng.

"It is also an exploration of how people live under a system they cannot get rid of. Instead they must get along with the system. What exactly is the relationship between individuals and the system?

“Are we the ones being controlled? Or are we unconsciously turning ourselves into slaves to serve the system?"

Seng, a graduate of Singapore’s Intercultural Theatre Institute, adds that the “absurdity and darkness of the play" resonates with the truth of humanity and the reality we’re living in.

“We’re like the maids in the play who are being oppressed in different ways and being trapped in a situation that we can hardly change.”

Kakak was first staged at KLPac after it won the Theatrix 2016 performing arts competition together with Tocatta Studio’s futuristic play 2020. Theatrix 2016 was a collaborative effort by MyCreative Ventures, The Actors Studio and KLPac.

This is not the first time Pitapat Theatre is adapting a play.

In 2016, the company staged An Enemy Of The People. At The Moment, an adaptation of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 work called An Enemy Of The People. Similar to Kakak, this play also explored themes such as power, authority and the freedom of expression.

Besides Kakak, some of the other international works which will be staged at the International Theatre Festival Of Kerala are The Well (Iran), Bitter Nectar (Sri Lanka) and Midsummer Night’s Dream (Iran).

Kakak will be showing at Now Theatre, Midfields Square West, Taman Sungai Besi in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 18 and 19. Showtime: 8pm. Tickets: RM40. FB: Pitapat Theatre.

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