Issues of gender and sexuality have become major talking points with Malaysians today. However, it seems that frank discussion about such issues is often regarded as taboo.
This is what local theatre group I’M Entertainment is out to change. Its latest show The Human Exhibit: Sex And Gender is an edgy meeting point between gallery-based exhibition and performing arts showcase.
The performances, pieced together like a journey, will feature contemporary dance, bharatanatyam performance, spoken word, theatre and film. Each will touch on themes such as gender roles and stereotypes, love and intimacy, hyper-sexuality and pansexuality, masculinity and femininity.
“We feel Malaysians now, more than ever, want to be talking about these important issues ... with the call for more women in positions of leadership and power,” says Dhinesha Karthigesu, 27, one of the show’s co-producers and artistic directors, alongside Ian Skatu.
"We've seen the response to the Women’s March (in Kuala Lumpur) and even the conversations post GE14 about such topics," he adds.
This is the second installment in The Human Exhibit series. Last year, the group launched with The Human Exhibit: Mental Health.
“For this show, we’ve replaced the role of a designated host. Instead the audience follows either visual or sound cues ... to move from space to space. We made things more immersive. However, the audience will still be given a choice if they are comfortable with interaction or not,” says Skatu, 26.
This show, featuring 11 performers, will take place at a spacious private residence called AkuSembunyi in Petaling Jaya.
“The show functions in multiple cycles for each performance. Each cycle is about an hour long. The audience will be taken from different parts of the house to another to watch the performances unfold,” explains Dhinesha.
One performance, for example, will feature actress Tharwa Karina in an immersive theatre monologue called Head In The Clouds, which discusses gender norms and roles within families. A dance and movement piece by PERA addresses the pressing issue of toxic masculinity.
Dancers Ashvinder Kaur and Nisya Aziz will perform a contemporary bharatanatyam piece about a story of a girl who falls in love with the wrong person.
In this new series, Skatu and Dhinesha will be directing a few of the exhibits themselves.
The Human Exhibit: Sex And Gender series takes place from July 4 to 7 and July 11 to 14 at AkuSembunyi, 11A, Jalan 12/8, PJ. Shows are at 8pm on Thursday and Friday; 3pm and 8pm on Saturday; and 3pm on Sunday. For mature audiences only. Tickets at RM60 are available through Peatix.com. There will be no door sales. FB: I’M Entertainment.