Online show 'Nadirah' attracts 1,500 viewers from 26 countries, returns for encore

  • Arts
  • Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020

'Nadirah Encore' features Sharifah Amani (left) in the titular role with Singaporean actress Neo Swee Lin playing her mother. An encore series will take place on Nov 29. Photo: Instant Cafe Theatre

The Instant Cafe Theatre’s (ICT) online screening of Singaporean writer/playwright Alfian Sa’at’s Nadirah is back by popular demand for an encore show this Sunday (Nov 29) after attracting 1,500 viewers for its initial run last week (November 19-22).

Now renamed Nadirah Encore, the play will be streamed via digital theatre platform CloudTheatre on Nov 29 at 3pm and 8pm.

“Some people heard about it too late and missed it. Others asked us to do it again because they wanted to share it with their friends or communities,” says Jo Kukathas, the play’s director and ICT co-founder.

None of Nadirah’s hard-hitting themes on interfaith relations, identity and friendship were lost in digital translation to its audiences from 26 countries, including Algeria, New Zealand, Luxembourg, South Africa and China.

“It did well especially in the conversations it generated,” says Kukathas.

Kukathas adds people want a rescreening: “because after they saw it they wanted to use it to have an interfaith discussion using the play as their starting point.”

The version of Nadirah that will be streamed this Sunday is a recording of the show that was performed at Festival Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan in 2016 starring Sharifah Amani as the titular character.

It also features Farah Rani, Patrick Teoh, Neo Swee Ling with Iedil Dzhurie Alaudin replacing Redza Minhat.

The play tells the story of Nadirah, a girl who is the product of a mixed marriage – her father is a Malay man from Malaysia, while her mother, Sadirah (Neo), is a Chinese woman from Singapore, who has converted to Islam.

One day, Sadirah tells her daughter she is planning to re-marry, this time to a non-Muslim named Robert (Teoh). This sparks a conflict of faith versus love.

“Our post show talks resulted in a lot of honest conversation about how hard many felt it is to have a dialogue about faith, especially university students who often felt they were shut down by lecturers or other students. They felt using theatre was a way to create a safe space to discuss difficult topics,” says Kukathas.

Nadirah Encore is a ticketed event, on a pay what you like basis (minimum RM8). The two-hour play is presented in Bahasa Malaysia and English (with Bahasa Malaysia, English and Japanese subtitles).

Part proceeds from Nadirah Encore will be donated to Prakarsa Alternatif, an initiative under Sabah-based social organisation Borneo Komrad, as a Covid-19 relief fund to help children of the disadvantaged communities in Semporna, Sabah.

The rest will be used for the yet-to-be-determined staging of And Then Came Spring by Parastoo Theatre, a KL-based refugee arts group, in collaboration with ICT. The play was postponed for a second time in October due to the conditional MCO.

In July, Kukathas directed Zoom Parah, a virtual restaging of another of Alfian’s plays called Parah. It attracted 1,000 viewers from 20 countries.

Nadirah Encore will be streamed on Cloud Theatres ( Show date: Nov 29 (3pm & 8pm).

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