Today theSun publishes my interview theatre performer Zamzuriah Zahari. Here is the full story
Headline: A Thespian Journey
By Bissme S
DANCER, singer and actress Zamzuriah Zahari, 33, has taken on a project that’s very close to her heart. Not only is she starring in the one and only role in Jalan Primadona, the musical is based on a script she wrote and she is also a co-director with veteran theatre performer and producer Faridah Merican.
The 90-minute show will be staged at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) from Dec 16 to 20 under the banner of The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat.
Accompanying her performance is the Kelantanese traditional music group, Geng Wak Long. What sets the musical apart is that it bravely tackles the conflict between religion and [artistic] tradition.
Jalan Primadona centres on a young girl who dreams of being a professional Malay traditional dancer specialising in Mak Yong and Tari Inai.Some look down upon her for choosing dancing as a career. Ignoring her critics, she concentrates on her passion and soon becomes famous.
Eventually, times change and tastes differ, and her fame starts to dwindle. She quits dancing and turns to religion. But is it possible for her toforget the world of dance that has brought her fame?
“Sixty per cent of what you will see on stage is based on my own experiences as an artiste,” says Zamzuriah, who is a fulltime lecturer in Aswara, an nstitute of higher learning in Malaysia that provides formal training courses in the arts, culture and heritage.
She explains that her journey as an artiste has never been a smooth one, and she has gone through many conflicts.
“It is not easy to be a female artiste because people are always judging you,” explains Zamzuriah, who in the past has churned out memorable performances in such productions as Titisan Sakti (2009) and Usikan Rebab (2012).
“Some have told me that I am not a pious Muslim because I do not cover my head when I am performing. But my question to my critics, and to myself is:‘Does your attire make you a good Muslim’?”
To those who criticise her for dabbling in Mak Yong because they believe this dance form contains mystical elements that go against Islamic teachings, she counters: “Did you know, in the early days, Mak Yong performances were used to spread Islam?”
She cites the tale of Dewa Muda that is often performed in Mak Yong performances, with Islamic elements. She adds that only those who do not know the history of Mak Yong will say that this art form is syirik (sinful).
She does not deny that a few Mak Yong performers say some jampi (spell) before starting their performances, and that this jampi has been seen as unIslamic.
“You cannot blame the art form,” she says. “Clearly, it is not at fault. You have to blame some of the performers for bastardising this art form by uttering these jampi.
“But frankly speaking, I do not think that these performers are really worshiping the devil. I believe they are using jampi as a
gimmick to attract attention from the audience.”
She admits that in the past, she has toyed with the idea of leaving the dance world in the name of religion.But her attempt was unsuccessful.
“The Almighty decides everything that takes place in one’s life,” she says.
“There must be a good reason why He still wants me to continue as a MakYong dancer.”
She emphasises she is not providing any answers to the questions she will be posing in the musical drama.
“I want my audience to seek the answer on their own accord,” she says, ading that she wants her audience to think about issues that affect their lives.
Recently, members of the media were given a short preview of Jalan Primadona, and it was indeed impressive. Zamzuriah and Geng Wak Long gave an electrifying performance. The show featured both humour and sarcasm, accompanied by the vibrant and enigmatic music. Zamzuriah was excellent, both in her comedic and emotional scenes.
From the little that I saw, I can predict Jalan Primadona is going to be a play that will touch hearts and minds.
Below are the pictures from her show