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By THARANIYA NAIR and CHANG ZHUN YAN
brats@thestar.com.my

The sight of a bunch of vibrant young adults gathering for theatre class on a Saturday afternoon may seem rare. But not at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, where 23 people came together for the Theatre For Young People (T4YP) programme.

Launched in 2008, the programme provides a platform for performing arts enthusiasts aged 16 to 25 to express themselves through acting.

T4YP has recently been given a bit of a facelift, with the introduction of a new syllabus.

According to T4YP programme coordinator Ho Lee Ching, the updated syllabus gives participants more space and time to learn, compared to the previous hectic one.

Choreographer Lex Lakshman demonstrates a dance move to the T4YP participants ahead of their final showcase.

Choreographer Lex Lakshman demonstrates a dance move to the T4YP participants ahead of their final showcase. — Photos by MERISSA VICTOR

“The old syllabus was structured in a way where students were required to do three or four shows with intensive rehearsals and training,” she said.

“The current syllabus allows students to gain knowledge through masterclasses. They are then required to apply the knowledge to their final showcase at the end of the programme.”

She added: “But it doesn’t mean that this one is better, or the last one is better. They are just different.”

For the past four months, participants have received training in directing, acting, storytelling, writing, dancing, singing and musical theatre classes under the watchful eye of instructors — Joe Hasham, Datuk Faridah Merican, Lex Lakshman, Mark Beau De Silva, Omar Ali, Dominic Lue, Lim Yu Min and Ng U-En.

Lex is one of the eight instructors to guide them as they prepare for their final showcase, Let's Talk. Here, he is teaching them the moves to Lady Gaga's song Telephone.

Lex is one of the eight instructors to guide them as they prepare for their final showcase, Let’s Talk. Here, he is teaching them the moves to Lady Gaga’s song Telephone.

A participant, 22-year-old Riena Aisya Rinaldi, said T4YP has given her a venue to express herself through drama and dance without being judged.

One of the youngest participants, Nur Hanisah, 16, echoed her sentiment. “I’ve had trouble expressing my emotions in the past, and I used to be shy and quiet. Theatre has helped me, allowing me to feel free and more confident,” she said.

As most of the T4YP participants are also full-time students, Kenan Yeh Rong, 22, said time management is important when they have to juggle their studies and practice, which occurs twice a week for three hours.

Kenan and another participant, Nur Hanisah, 16, were given the golden opportunity to direct this year’s final showcase Let’s Talk, which is inspired by a piece by Singaporean writer Haresh Sharma.

Omar praised the duo for doing a great job in taking up the responsibility as directors and leading their peers. Some of the monologues in the show were even conceived by the participants themselves.

“They are also increasing their rehearsal sessions ahead of the final showcase and are all very committed to making the show a huge success,” said Omar.

Let's Talk is a showcase of singing, dancing and acting.

Let’s Talk is a showcase of singing, dancing and acting.

After witnessing their progress throughout the programme, Omar, as well as the other instructors, believe that T4YP serves as a stepping stone for these incredibly talented young people to venture into the industry. He is now looking forward to seeing them as professionals in the future.

He even revealed that some of them were given roles in the upcoming theatre festival, Short+Sweet Festival.

“As a live art form, theatre is an experiential and organic medium. There are no screens separating the audiences from the performers so they are not limited to what they see or hear,” he said

“Audiences get to sense and feel what’s going on. They are not just witnessing something, they become part of the whole experience.”

As for the future of the theatre industry, Omar thinks that the society is slowly embracing it.

“I think our society is growing to understand the importance of the arts — not only as a form of entertainment or recollection of past culture — but also a space to develop new ideas and vision to move towards a better future. My hope is that this happens sooner, rather than later.”

Let’s Talk will be showing at Pentas 2, KLPac from Aug 6-8 at 8.30pm and Aug 9 at 3pm. Tickets are priced at RM25.

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