By WONG PEK MEI
Photos by RAYMOND OOI
LEARNING sign language in nine months is no easy task.
However, Dr Eddie Chan, 43, who was one of the 4,902 volunteers on stage to deliver Tzu Chi Foundation’s “Dharma as Water” sutra adaptation performance, rose to the challenge and completed it.
“It was no easy task and I practised as often as I could – in the car, before I slept and sometimes, in front of the mirror,” he said when interviewed before his performance at Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil.
Tzu Chi Kuala Lumpur and Selangor staged the performance twice on July 4 and 5.
Combining theatrical sketches, songs and sign language, the show was adapted from the “Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance Text” and centres on practising repentance.
Chan had two roles – one saw him performing sign language along with music and the other had him as a painter.
“Sign language wasn’t used for aesthetic reasons or merely for performance.
“It is used as performers would have to focus hard and sign every word in the song.
“We will remember the songs on the sutra in our heart and project the meaning to the audience,” he said.
Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Malaysia deputy chief executive officer Sio Kee Hong said the event was not merely a performance.
“There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to repent the past deeds and to cleanse our soul so we do not commit anymore sins that could harm us,” he said.
Sio said there were performers who were previously alcoholics and through this process, gave up their bad habits.
He said the performers, who were volunteers, took a year to prepare for the show.
“They studied the sutra and participated in group studies to clear any defilement,” he said.
He said it was an opportunity to clear their heart and soul to avoid bad behaviour.
“They were also encouraged to be vegetarians for at least 108 days to cleanse the heart and soul,” he said.
Sio said there were three teams of performers, namely the Dharma Expressionist, who used sign language to expound teachings, Dharma Accompaniments, using their body language and the Light of Great Love using their voice.
“On each performance, each stage would feature 504 performers,” he added.
Tickets for all four shows were taken up and they opened their full dress rehearsals as well to people.