Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pak Pandir Yo!

Dancer and choreographer Alam Wakaka is featuring the the popular character Malay folklore, Pak Pandir in a dance drama that will be staged at our national theatre Istana  

Headline: Return Of Pak Pandir 
By Bissme S

PAK PANDIR is a popular character in Malay folklore who is depicted as simpleminded and naive – the very incarnation of the village idiot whose foolishness always lands him in hilarious situations. Dancer and  choreographer Alam Wakaka is showcasing this character in a dance drama entitled Pak Pandir Yo! at
Panggung Sari, Istana Budaya, this weekend (Sept 19 and 20) at 3pm and 8pm.
This 90-minute performance is part of the Kuala Lumpur International Dance Festival under the month-long, inaugural Diverse City 2015: Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival programme, which ends on Oct 4.
“I have choreographed many dance shows for corporate events,” says Alam, who also runs dance company Alamak
“This will be my first time producing and directing one.”
He adds that he wants to combine dance and comedy for this show. For Pak Pandir Yo!. Alam is transplanting
this clownish character from his village setting into the city. It centres on how Pak Pandir and his wife Mak  Andih cope with visiting Kuala Lumpur for the first time. Naturally, the couple experience a big cultural  shock, encountering many new experiences that both excite and astonish them.
Pak Pandir’s gaffes, of course, land the couple in funny situations that will have audiences (hopefully) laughing their heads off. On his reasons for putting up this production, Alam explains that there had been many plays that focused on legendary characters like Puteri Gunung Ledang, Hang Tuah and Mahsuri.
“As a result, many people know about the stories behind
these legends,” he says. 
“But there has not been a theatre production focusing on Pak Pandir. I find Pak Pandir has become a forgotten folklore character. I hope to inject some life into his story and remind the young generation of his existence.”
The dance show will not have any dialogue. The plot and characters’ emotions will be expressed through dance.
“It will be like watching a silent movie,” says Alam, who won Malaysia’s first So You Think You Can Dance competition in 2007. 
“The only sound you can hear is the music.”
There will be 26 dancers in the show. Alam plans to showcase various dance forms, from traditional dances like dikir barat, to forms of street dancing such as breakdance.
“Some quarters may look down on street dancing,” he says. 
“They feel what we are doing is not an art form because most street dancers are self-taught dancers and have no formal training.
“They forget that street dancers also put in a lot of hard work and energy into their choreography. As a result, they also deserve some respect.
“But, you cannot force people to respect you. All you can do is to ignore such negative talk and just concentrate on your work.”
Leading the production of Pak Pandir Yo! is rising young actor Mohd Redha Rozlan, 27, better known as Mat Redho, who will take on the role of Pak Pandir.
“Since there is no dialogue in this production, I have to rely on my facial expressions and body language to depict Pak Pandir’s story,” says Mat Redho.
“I think that is very challenging [but] I love challenging roles.”
Most actors do research on their character and Mat Redho is no different, as he has turned to the silent films of Charlie Chaplin for inspiration.Now, he has new respect for the legendary comedy actor.
“Chaplin was brilliant in using his body to express his emotions,” says Mat Redho.
Comedienne Refika Noviati Faturohman, better known as Vicha Saywho, plays Mak Andih. This Indonesian actress has made Malaysia her second home, and has been a regular guest on Astro’s comedy show Maharaja Lawak Mega for  three years.She describes her character as someone wise, and who wants a better life for herself and her husband.
“Unfortunately, her husband does not listen to her,” she says.
“Despite his foolishness, she loves him very much.”
Refika explains that there is a scene where the wife gets tired of her husband’s foolishness and leaves him stranded in Kuala Lumpur.
But she misses him in the end and returns to the city to search for him.
“The scene when they reunite is very touching. You have to admire her willingness to love her husband despite his flaws.”

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