Theatre show 'Dust': why being aware of your mortality can be good for you

  • Arts
  • Thursday, 13 Jun 2019

The cast of 'Dust' (from left) Andy Poon, Thomas Alexander, Season Chee, Ranessa Theyakaraja and Lim Sheng Hui. Photo: Theatresauce

It was arguably one of the toughest weeks of Esther Liew's life. She didn’t see it coming and she was definitely not prepared for it ... to deal with the death of her maternal grandmother.

Before the sadness had time to sink in, she lost her paternal grandfather. All in the span of a week.

“It got me thinking about death and mortality and how death is certain for everyone. But we don’t know when and how we’ll die,” says Liew, 31, a theatre practitioner and speech/drama teacher, in a recent interview.

“Life is intertwined with death. Also, how can you confront your own death when you’ve never experienced it?” she adds.

Dust, a new full-length devised play conceptualised and helmed by Liew, poses this question.

The show, presented by collective Theatresauce, will open at KL's Five Arts Centre’s Kotak space on June 13.

The cast features Ranessa Theyakaraja, 28, Lim Sheng Hui, 26, Season Chee, 44, Andy Poon, 29 and Thomas Alexander, 24.

Dust is an intimate, multilingual exploration of death, mortality and how different people deal with such things. It’s conceived through stories, dreams and imaginations of the five performers who have been deeply impacted by experiences and questions about death, grief and ultimately, life,” explains Liew, who was part of Theatresauce’s inaugural Emerging Directors Lab last year.

Liew, whose directing credits include Project Eve (2018), Poof! (2017) and Pitch, Please (2016), says Dust also goes beyond grief caused by death.

“I’m sure most people would have experienced some form of grief through the loss of their job, (a certain) ability or even time. This is something we will look at in the play,” says Liew.

Ranessa, a performing arts diploma graduate from Sunway University, admits feeling anxious and apprehensive when she first joined the production team.

"I started to realise my own experiences when it came to grief, death and my personal questions about life.

And I knew this (sharing these experiences and emotions) would be challenging,” says Ranessa, who acted in Anomalist Production’s IQ.Rock.

“There were moments where it all became too difficult,” she confesses about the devising process, which involved everyone involved sharing their life stories for Liew then to mould them into a play.

"It made me re-examine everything. It humbled me, stripped off my ego,” says Ranessa.

Dust runs for 90 minutes (without intermission) and will be presented in English and Mandarin with English surtitles. It is the first of three New Projects as part of Theatresauce’s 2019 season.

Dust runs at Kotak, Five Arts Centre, 27 Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 7, Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur from June 13-23. Showtimes: June 13-15 (8.30pm), June 15-16 (3pm), June 19-22 (8.30pm) and June 22-23 (3pm). Tickets: RM63 and RM53 (concession). Call 019-807 4810. More details:

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