KUALA LUMPUR: City Hall has decided to no longer issue any performing licence to Instant Cafe Theatre Company (ICT) after the group refused to follow an order to revise the script of its sell-out show “The 2nd First Annual Bolehwood Awards 2003 – The Director’s Cut.”
It had ordered ICT to change the script after finding that some parts of the show were deemed “sensitive” following a complaint in a letter published in Utusan Malaysia on July 11.
City Hall public relations officer Sarifuddin Ibrahim told The Star that ICT was asked to delete some parts of the script.
He said ICT was also advised to conduct its performance in a more “ethical and decent manner and not to cause uneasiness to the public.”
However, Sarifuddin pointed out that ICT did not comply, and City Hall had no choice but to issue the theatre company with a show-cause letter.
“Since Instant Cafe Theatre did not abide by the directive, it will no longer be given a licence to perform, effective today,” he said.
At its final show last night, City Hall enforcement officers served a compound notice on the show's producer Adeline Tan for performing at Twelve SI in Jalan Sultan Ismail without a permit.
The “Bolehwood” show ran from July 8 to 13 at the Actors Studio Bangsar and continued at Twelve SI in Jalan Sultan Ismail until last night.
In the letter to Utusan, a reader complained that the performance was rude and uncivilised, with utterances of profanity.
He also criticised the show for being insensitive to Islam, apart from making fun of politicians.
In its advertisement, ICT publicised the show as the “spoofs (of) everything under the Malaysian sun and no one, no institution, no project, no cultural norm is spared.”
Show director Jo Kukathas expressed shock at City Hall's decision.
She said it had informed her last Saturday to cut out five elements from the script including government policies, government agencies and the mention of anyone dead or alive, including Tan Sri P. Ramlee.
“This basically entails the entire show which is about society and government policies. It was too late to stop the show that night.
“City Hall also told us we must comply or else we had to pay a RM10,000 fine.
“After we thought it through and consulted our lawyers, we decided to continue with the show without any amendments because if we did, there would be no show,” she said in an interview.
Arts and culture activist Kathy Rowland in her letter to Utusan on Wednesday defended the “Bolehwood” show, explaining that since its inception in 1989, ICT had been performing satires even at official government functions.
“This shows Malaysian poli-ticians are mature enough to appreciate a comedy such as “Bolehwood,” an indication that Malaysia is a democratic country,” she wrote.