Review: ETA: 9MIN by Main Tulis Group

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No time for epic three hour plays? Think that Shakespeare is a little too dense for an enjoyable night out? All new playwright collective the Main Tulis Group has arrived on the scene to resolve those problems, and debuted nine short 9 minute plays at Centre 42’s Late Night Texting this August.

Founded by writer Nabilah Said in 2016, the group consists of an all star lineup of nine up and coming playwrights who have each more than proven their playwriting skills in previous productions. Writing in both Malay and English, the group consists of Nabilah herself, Ahmad Musta-ain Khamis, Farhanah Diyanah, Hazwan Norly, Zulfadli Rashid, Sabrina Dzulkifli, Adib Kosnan, Nessa Anwar, and Johnny Jon Jon.

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‘Main Tulis’ literally translates to ‘play write’, and the name was chosen to pun on the English word ‘playwright’. At the same time, the name holds a double meaning: ‘anyhow write’, and conveys the group’s playful attitude towards their writing – to go forth and experiment and not take their writing too seriously.

ETA: 9MIN of course, reflects the nine minute length of these new plays, and act as a kind of sampler platter to introduce audiences to each playwright’s unique writing styles. From comedy to tragedy, social commentary in both English and Malay, the audience were treated to a smorgasbord of stories last night, handily divided into three segments each named after a meal of the day. We managed to catch the final segment (‘Dinner’), featuring plays by Zulfadli Rashid, Ahamad Musta’ain Khamis and Jonny Jon Jon.

Semeja by Zulfadli Rashid, directed by Adib Kosnan

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Semeja is a one actor play, as Suhaili Safari plays a woman about to eat dinner, lecturing an unknown acquaintance about the truth and pain of segregation and why they can’t sit with others. We’ve written about Suhaili Safari’s skills at bringing out tragedy before, and in Semeja (the table), she delivers the difficulty of explaining inherited differences and deep-seated discrimination that we’ve come to accept with gusto. Zulfadli Rashid’s script hits hard, and manages to address most of the issues surrounding segregation in just nine short minutes.

Kenduri Mak by Ahmad Musta’ain Khamis

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Kenduri Mak was without a doubt the most entertaining play of the three at ‘Dinner’. Shafiqhah Efandi plays Nabila, a woman who goes on a rant and finally speak her mind to her suffocating, unhelpful relatives at her mother’s first year death anniversary dinner. An extremely gifted actress, Shafiqhah easily instils Nabila with an intense energy, bringing Ahmad Musta’ain Khamis’ darkly humorous script to life as she berates various ‘ciks’ while still attempting to remain pious, apologizing when she makes rude remarks. Ahmad’s script is equal parts hilarious and emotional, and uses his language to effectively bring out the hypocrisies in Nabila’s family while effectively painting her as a sympathetic, relatable character, and we’re completely ecstatic to see where his writing takes him next.

Dinner by Jonny Jon Jon

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Jonny Jon Jon’s Dinner comes with a truly exciting original concept: a homosexual couple finds their relationship on the rocks when one of them (Siti Z) gets married, and wants to bring the other (Sabrina Dzukifli) into her marriage as her husband’s second wife. Although marred by a couple of awkward lines and a *gasp* cliffhanger ending, one can easily imagine Dinner being expanded into a full length play, and given the right mentorship, could be a real success story waiting to happen. Plus, Siti Z and Sabrina Dzukifli have a really good onstage chemistry together, and play off each other in some genuinely adorable moments at times.

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With ETA: 9MIN, the Main Tulis Group has done a truly great job of showcasing their members’ talents and potential. Three meals in a day can’t be enough to satisfy the hunger we have for more tasty morsels of Main Tulis’ writing, and we’ll be watching each and every writer closely in hot anticipation of their next projects, more or less assured of some seriously exciting ideas and good writing that lies in store for us in the (hopefully) near future.

Photo Credit: Main Tulis Group Facebook

Performances attended at 10.30pm on 25/8/17

The Main Tulis Group will next be doing a script read and talkback session at the Esplanade Library on 9th September. You can keep up with Main Tulis on their Facebook

 

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