Ipoh’s Hit Musical to Reflect an Integrated Malaysian Society


Shiny Black Gold - malaysian musicalThe successful locally produced musical play, “Shiny Black Gold”, is to be turned into a series to reflect the integral Malaysian society of the pre-Merdeka era.

Perak Society of Performance Arts’ (PSPA) president, Datin Rosalina Ooi-Thong, told Ipoh Echo that there were many stories in the play that can be expanded upon and highlighted into a series.

“The production as a series will enable the stories of the sacrifices and efforts by individual sectors of our community to be exported to other cities,” she added. “If there is sufficient support, we may even turn it into a feature movie.”

“Shiny Black Gold”, which was staged last year, gives an insight into the lives and hardships of people, particularly Chinese immigrants, during the glorious days of the tin mining era in Perak. The script was written by Datin Rosalina and music by Christopher Tse.

Although it was PSPA’s first performance, using a completely original script and music performed by local talents, it was a big success. “We feel we are now brave enough to do our own production using our own scripts and our own local talents,” stressed Datin Rosalina.

“As it is, the play is about our own community, which fascinated the audience, especially the scions of the original tin miners, who were able to experience a bit of history visually, of the glorious tin mining days of their forefathers in the Kinta Valley. The show was further supported by original artifacts collected by Mr Ian Anderson”.

“Though we did not claim it to be an historical project, the life and hardships of those who lived then, as presented by the performance, became real when told in story form.”

Some of those in the audience were even in tears as the realities of the hardships endured by some of their ancestors were portrayed.

Datin Rosalina said there was a request for “Shiny Black Gold” to be produced in Chinese. “I would love to do so if I am certain the essence of the story can be retained, especially the earnest desires of our forefathers to gain “A Better Tomorrow” she explained.

Asked why she was planning a series to reflect an integrated society, Datin Rosalina said that the play was not all about the Chinese community. It is about how the Chinese were part of the larger community too.

“We need to reflect it. It is important to me because when I grew up I did not see skin colour. My friends were friends, classmates, Malays, Indians, Chinese or others. Unfortunately, I think this is not happening anymore,” she stressed.

“We need to integrate. And I would very much like to convey to the young people how wonderful it was then… and it can still be that way today! Our childhood days were shared with all races. We sat together, we played together and we ate together. And so we grew up without seeing skin colours. We respected each other whether I go to the chapel to pray or my fellow class mates go ‘sembahyang’ or ‘puasa’.” Like the phrase in Shiny Black Gold…We were different yet the same!

She hopes the play will develop into a feature film. “It will be marvelous if one day the film can be screened on-flight so that tourists can have some knowledge of Malaysia even before they land,” she said.

On the development of the performing arts in the city, she said PSPA has come a long way since it was formed 15 years ago. Last year, PSPA organised its first festival of performing arts. Although PSPA aims to organise various genres of performing arts events like musical plays and concerts, PSPA’s main aim is to provide opportunities for young talents to expand and develop.

Although the efforts to promote performing arts in the city are making progress, it is being impaired by the lack of an art centre in the city where the various related organisations could be housed to provide trainings and hold performances. “Maybe it could one day be like the well-known Juliard College of Arts in New York,” said Datin Rosalina.

Currently, there is no suitable venue in the city for performances. Taman Budaya (Cultural Centre) has only about 250 seats. “If we are to bring in a foreign troupe to perform here, even at full capacity we will not be able to meet the expenses. Unless, the tickets are priced at RM500 each,” she said.

There is a need for a suitable auditorium. Even PSPA’s founding president & advisor, the late Dato’ K.K. Lim, who was a true visionary, had initiated many efforts to raise awareness of performing arts in our city and explored the possibilities of a centre for arts to be established in the city.

A fund called “A Home for PSPA” has been launched for this purpose. “We’ve also written to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and they had sent their officials to meet us,” said Datin Rosalina. ”If everything goes well, we should be expecting a positive response by next year.” She hopes the state government will start the ‘ball rolling’ by allocating a piece of land for the proposed arts centre. A project paper was sent to the MB and the state exco for Youth and Arts.

Jerry Francis

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