Malay theatre adaptation of 'Macbeth' now gets a zapin twist


  • Arts
  • Thursday, 17 Oct 2019

Surnia Fizul (left) and Ilyahida play Dato' DiKajang and Datin Seri respectively in this zapin-inspired adaptation of 'Dato' Seri', which itself is a Malay language adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. Photo: Muiz Evans

Theatre director Omar Ali and the late Tan Sri Mohammad Ali Hashim's work Dato' Seri, a Malay language adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, is getting a zapin makeover in a brand new staging at Aswara's Experimental Theatre in Kuala Lumpur.

Muzikal Zapin Dato' Seri, adapted and directed by Anwar Rusdini, opens on Oct 25 and is set to transport audiences to a reimagined Malaya in 1960s using the magic of zapin, a traditional Malay dance.

The musical is choreographed by famed choreographer Pat Ibrahim with MK Ridzuan as music director.

The 90-minute show is led by Surnia Fizul, who plays the titular role, and Ilyahida as Datin Seri.

A total of 20 actors will take to the stage, while 10 musicians, who are UiTM Shah Alam students and music alumni, will contribute the live music.

"We decided to restage this play because of its translated content, the semi-classical Malay used makes for good (stage) literature. This work, considering its rich background, has the potential to explore Malay culture further," says the 28-year-old Anwar, who played the Tengku Mahkota character in the 2018 staging of Dato' Seri at KLPac.

Dato' Seri first premiered in 2016 with TV and stage actor Radhi Khalid playing the lead role.

However, Anwar, whose directing credits include Riau Sari (2017) and Where Am I? (2017), says this upcoming staging "is still in its trial phase".

Ilyahida plays the murderous Datin Seri, who eggs her husband to kill the king to fulfill a prophecy. Photo:Izzat Razif

He has given himself a deadline to tighten up the show since he aims to bring a full-fledged show to the KL stage in February next year.

Dato’ Seri tells the story of Dato’ DiKajang who, upon receiving a prophecy from three witches about his rise to the throne, walks down a path of deceit and treachery. He is egged on by his wife to murder the king to become the sovereign of the land and though he agrees at first, Dato’ DiKajang is haunted by the guilt of his actions.

Anwar says that a suggestion from Pat spark the idea of adding a zapin twist to Dato' Seri.

"Initially, I was just experimenting with zapin movements which we got to know was not just dance-based movements but a game that specialised in footwork.

"And one day, Pat said it's just like jazz, the rhythm and the game are about the same. So I thought, if jazz rhythms were synonymous with musical theatre in West End and Broadway, why can't we then introduce zapin?" recalls Anwar, a UiTM performing arts graduate.

"From a philosophical and musical standpoint, zapin music is very synonymous with Malay culture."

Muzikal Zapin Dato' Seri features 18 new songs together with a haunting rendition of Lancang Kuning, which was part of the original script.

The musical is produced by Mahakarya Studios. Founded in 2015, Mahakarya Studios is a production house comprising performers, entrepreneurs and passionate artistes across multiple disciplines, dedicated in providing a stage experience that aims to captivate audiences.


Muzikal Zapin Dato' Seri is on at Experimental Theatre, Jalan Tun Ismail, Aswara in KL from Oct 25-27. Showtimes: 8.30pm (Oct 25 and 26) and 3pm (Oct 27). Entry: RM20. Call: 012-528 6734/012-300 2071. FB: Teater Muzikal Zapin Dato Seri.


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