Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cerita Monyet-Monyet (Story of Monkeys)

27th October 2007
8.30 P.M.
Little Forest(Baktisiswa)


“Story of Monkeys” is an adaptation of Ramayana Epic, presented in the experimental wayang theatre style. Story of Mahraja Wana, the adaptation of the Ramayana Epic, is widely played in ‘Malay Shadow Puppet’ or ‘Kelantan Shadow Puppet’. Another Malay adaptation is the Hikayat Seri Rama, translated from the Javanese Sanskrit of Ramayana Story. “Story of Monkeys” is based on monkey characters in Ramayana, with Hanuman as the main character, Hanuman Kera Ikan, Sagariwa and Subali (Raja Bali). “Story of Monkeys’’ adaptation is written and directrd by Dr.Zulkifli Mohamad. It is divided into two acts where each part consists of three scenes. The story is being told by seven storytellers, twenty movement actors and fifteen puppet makers, replacing the function of ‘Tok Dalang’ in traditional wayang kulit theatre. In addition, the “Story of Monkeys” will be graced with the appearance of “Gamelan Ensemble” conducted by Ms.Susan John.

“Story of Monkeys’” explores another way of staging theatre production in an unconventional theatre space, where it takes place in the open space behind the Baktisiswa building in University of Malaya. The venue provides a ready space for battlefield, riverbank and the forest, a hidden place of the monkey kingdom i.e. now known as little forest. The approach of using actual space is often referred to as Site-Specific work. This sixty minute theatre performance also comes with snacks and beverages on the side, providing similar ambience to traditional theatre presentation i.e. the revival of Asian Way of watching theatre.


“Story of Monkeys” is an exciting tales from the monkey kingdom, the ancestry of Hanuman, the monkey king. The story begins with the love story of Seri Rama (Rama) and Siti Dewi (Sita), later transforms to become male and female monkeys after having drunk the water from the crystal clear lake, cursed by Mahraja Wana (Rawana). With the help of Laksamana, Rama and Sita transform again as human being. However, the monkeys’ seed of pregnant Sita was thrown afar to the peak of ‘Gunung Angin’ (Wind Mountain).

The mystery of three siblings, Subali, Sagariwa and Puteri Maya Angin gives another layer of conflict in the “Story of Monkeys”, at the same time, answering the question to the origins of the white monkey, Hanuman. “Story of Monkeys” also features other important characters in the Ramayana world like the Fish Princess, Serpent, Jentayu Bird, Hanuman Kera Ikan (half monkey half fish) and most important of all, the Pohon Beringin (Tree of Life), a symbol of beginning and ending in each Wayang Kulit story.

DR. ZULKIFLI MOHAMMAD (Director-Playwright)

Zulkifli was born among the artistic family in Kota Bharu Kelantan. He graduated from University of Stratchlyde, Glasgow, MARA Institute of Technology (UiTM) and National University of Malaysia (UKM). His PhD thesis on “Management of Artistic Creation in Malay Contemporary Dance Theatre” is a result of his on his 12 years working experience with Suasana Dance Theatre (led by Azanin Ahmad) and his research into Southeast Asian dance theatre. Apart from his artistic talent, he has a strategic management skill in the arts and culture.

He has worked in various organizations like the Scottish Ballet in Glasgow, ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, SEAMEO-SPAFA in Bangkok, and lectured in creative thinking, arts, contemporary theatre, dance theatre, culture management and arts marketing in UiTM, UNIMAS Sarawak, University of Chulalongkorn, Bangkok, Jakarta Art Institute, Tokyo University and University of California, Los Angeles. Zulkifli has performed his dance theatres creations in United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Recently, he directed his own theatre work entitled ‘Selipar Jepun’ at Stor Teater, DBP. Currently, Dr. Zulkifli is teaching dance theatre, critical writing, culture management, theatre management and traditional theatre workshop at Culture Centre of University of Malaya and continues to write in his arts and culture column in KOSMO newspaper.