Introduce children to the indigenous culture and folk heritage of Malaysia
Settle in for a ride with Riki the flying fox as he takes you on a journey through the various landscapes in which he inhabits Asli – Resonance in our roots December 5.
In this online performance of live music, puppetry and folklore, the lively Riki, played by Mathan Rajasingam, will take viewers from the comforts of their homes to the Kelantan Caves, the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, forests and wetlands, where we will meet a host of old world characters as well as new stories created for this show.
In an act, we are presented Kelembai Blood, a Malay folk tale about a giantess with the power of petrification.
In another, we deepen The hiss of the snake from India which follows the adventures of Pambu the Serpent and Parashar the Wise.
Next, a Rothschild Slipper Orchid (also known as the Sumazau Orchid) will tell the tales of giant King Gayo Nakan and the Supreme Beings of Kinoingan and Suminundu.
The Great Chinese Zodiac Race and Terengganu’s Ulek Mayang legend of the Seven Sea Princesses also appear here.
This project is presented by sitar player and visual arts teacher Kalpana Paranjothy in collaboration with The Temple of Fine Arts. It is supported by Cendana Malaysia.
Stories with a message
“Asli – Resonance in our roots hopes to raise awareness of the country’s natural environment and the importance of preserving and protecting this heritage. Folk tales contain various lessons and values that help us reflect on how our identities, our sense of belonging and our community are inextricably linked with nature, ”says Kalpana.
“We also want the public to better understand Indigenous communities and that although they are at the forefront of many environmental crises, their fight is a fight all Malaysians should support as we all risk losing the same legacy.”
This show intends to engage with a younger audience, conveying the values of those stories that they can use in their daily lives, such as respect, care and compassion for human neighbors and not human beings, and mutual aid.
“We want to bring entertainment and storytelling to kids through a more visceral approach. This is crucial because we see that in today’s age children are increasingly disconnected from nature. Using music, visual arts, literature and theater, this project will provide them with an immersive experience.
“This show will be fun and relevant for all age groups, because folk tales are still relevant today. We have original music composed and varied puppet styles designed for this show that will present these stories in a new light, ”she adds.
Asli – Resonance in our roots is written by Nadiah Rosli, freelance environmental journalist and conservation communicator, with visuals and puppets by artist Deepa Rajendra.
A total of 14 musicians and puppeteers will bring the stories to life, including Swathi Sivadas on piano, Hariraam Lam Tingyuan on violin / gambus, Shweta Baskaran on sitar, Sim Er Wen on erhu and Mohd Hisharudy on rebab and percussion.
Riki the flying fox will be the narrator.
Kalpana notes that the characters, sets and storylines are locally defined, which gives insight into the relationship that local communities have with their environment and biodiversity in a specific area at the time.
“As Malaysia is a diverse, multiracial and multi-faith nation, the cultural and moral values found in these stories stand the test of time. The selection of folk tales is meant to be inclusive (highlighting different ethnicities and geographic locations) and to integrate stories indigenous to Malaysians.
“The characters / narrators have distinct personalities based on their species and origin (based on factual references), and the language used is also meant to be easy to follow and engaging for a younger audience,” she says.
The performance also features musicians Semai de Gombak, Selangor performing an original song titled, Bangkit, directed by Tok Sali Bah Bap.
“According to Tok Sali, the lyrics call on young people (Orang Asli) to be an agent of change and to protect their natural and cultural heritage, especially the rainforests.
“Their collaboration on this production includes performing this song and collaborating with the other musicians in the opening and ending with the intention of bonding through the music,” she shares.
Asli – Resonance in our roots was originally intended to be a live performance, but due to public health safety considerations, especially with regard to young audience members, it was decided to present it as a digital showcase.
However, it is also possible to attend a physical screening of the performance video at the Temple Of Fine Arts in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur at 6 p.m. on December 5.
The one-hour plus show at Kanagasabai Hall will be presented in English with Bahasa Malaysia subtitles.
The profits will be used to help the Orang Asli community.
More info here.