Monday, June 10, 2013


When I was small, when entertainment would only come from television, radio or books, one thing that I would do after every Friday prayer was to turn on the radio to listen to "Bangsawan Radio" [radio theatre] on Singapore Radio. "Bangsawan" would be similar to English fairy tales where there are Kings and Queens, handsome princes and beautiful princesses, strong warriors, wicked stepmothers, monsters, genies, gods and goddesses, fairies, witches etc. 

I found an invitation card (one for the principal and the other one for the teachers and students) while checking the mail in school. There was this stage performance in Jubli Intan Hall on the 8th June and I decided to go watch it even though there was nobody to tag along. This is something that I really miss doing. When I was studying in Universiti Pertanian Malaysia, we had the opportunity to watch several live theatres, either forced to go or done on voluntary basis, but that does not happen anymore now.

I arrived at the hall early at 8:00 and there was some sort of exhibition at the foyer at the hall. As there were not many people yet, I managed to get a good seat right behind the VVIPs. The performance only started at 9:00 p.m. after the guests of honour had taken their seats.

The title of the theatre is "Bangsawan Nilakesuma". And story goes something like this:

The second wife/queen gave birth to Nilakesuma and the first wife/queen was jealous. So she conspired with the royal fortune teller by declaring that the baby would bring bad luck. The sad King had no choice but to abandon the child by sending him away.

The second wife and a few palace staff went with her deep into the forest and then there was this holy man telling them the baby would one day become an important figure. He instructed them to stay in the cottage they could find in the forest.

The Prince, Nilakesuma, had an encounter with the holy man when he had grown up into a handsome young man. The holy man told him he was the person who could kill the monster who had captured the prince and princesses of a neighbouring state (after telling him the secret of how to)and hence, free them from the curse of the wicked creature.

Nilakesuma fought with the monster and successfully freed the victims in captivity. The hero must always wins.

The other prince took Nilakesuma, his mother and all his followers to see his father, the other King. The King was so happy that his children were all home safely and he decided to marry off his first princess, which should be the most beautiful one, to Nilakesuma to show his gratitude. In this scene, then only Nilakesuma's mother told the story who they really were. Upon hearing this, Nilakesuma wanted to go and see the place where he belonged to.

Things had changed from bad to worse. The royal fortune teller who had worked together with the queen  was trying to take over the throne. 

Nilakesuma went back just at the right time to kill the evil fortune teller and everything was saved. THE END.

curtain call

By the way, in between scenes, when people back stage were working hard to change the setting and props, the audience were entertained with several singing and dancing acts. However, in my opinion, they should just stick to the traditional type of presentation as a few of them were not that suitable to the whole concept of "bangsawan". 

Nevertheless, I must say I had enjoyed myself tremendously and it was a great performance. I just wish that there are more cultural show like this for the present generation to learn and appreciate.

And I met with an ex-student, Mr. Faiz Samad, from SPM batch 1998 (if I am not mistaken) in the hall which his family, which was something unexpected.

I think I must go and watch the theatre performance in Singapore after this - at least it will be nearer than Kuala Lumpur. Anyone interested?