PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian arts scene suffered a great loss yesterday when theatre doyen Krishen Jit Amar Singh died from a massive stroke after a month-long illness.
Krishen, 65, passed away at 3.05pm at the University Malaya Medical Centre’s (UMMC) cardiac unit.
During his illness, he had been admitted to the Institut Jantung Negara (IJN), Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and UMMC.
He was first admitted to the IJN for observation on March 21 after complaining of fatigue.
He suffered a heart attack five days later but was on the mend until complications from diabetes surfaced on Tuesday.
The prolific director, educator, historian and critic was surrounded by his wife Marion D’Cruz, family and friends in his last hours.
Krishen had a widespread influence on the development of local theatre over the last four decades.
In 1984, he founded the Five Arts Centre with D’Cruz and other artists such as Chin San Sooi and Redza Piyadasa.
As the longest-running theatre reviewer in the history of the country, Krishen’s column, “Talking Drama with Utih'', was a weekly occurrence in the New Straits (Sunday) Times for more than 22 years.
Besides English-language theatre, Krishen took an active role in Bahasa Malaysia theatre in the 1970s and 1980s when he directed Usman Awang’s Uda dan Dara and Matinya Seorang Pahlawan and Dinsman’s Bukan Bunuh Diri, among others.
Together with Usman, Rahim Razali, Syed Alwi and Ahmad Yatim, he presented a paper entitled “Theatre – Where are your Roots?” during the 1971 National Cultural Congress that helped set up the National Cultural Policy.
Krishen was the founding dean of theatre of the National Arts Academy (Akademi Seni Kebangsaan) and a member of the Department of History at Universiti Malaya and various regional organisations, including Arts Network Asia and the Asian Public Intellect Foundation.
Krishen is survived by wife D’Cruz, who is a well-known choreographer and dance educator. The couple have no children.
The wake for Krishen will be held at his home at 4, Lorong Setiajasa 1, Medan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.
The funeral mass will be held at the St Francis Xavier’s Church in Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya, at 4pm tomorrow after which the cortege will leave for the crematorium.
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