ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar features articles and posts about arts and culture in Southeast Asia, drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. In the weekly Southeast Asia Radar, we publish a round-up of content that have been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.
Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:
Learning life lessons through ‘macapat’, Javanese script
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the music of macapat (a form of Javanese poetry that is sung a cappella) would be heard from a house on Jl. Rotowijayan, not far from the Yogyakarta Palace. But until April 1, the house will stay silent.
The Pamulangan Sekar KHP Kridha Mardawa school at the house offers macapat and Javanese script lessons.
One February afternoon, 86-year-old Dwijo Cipto Wandowo led his students in singing “Maskumambang”, one of the macapat verses. He has been teaching since 1994, living 7 kilometers away from the school. After asking the students to sing, he closed his eyes and listened to them with his heart.
Iconic Novel ‘Số Đỏ’ by Vu Trong Phung Is Being Adapted for the Screen
Production on the film adaptation of Vu Trong Phung’s satirical masterpiece Số Đỏ, or Dumb Luck, is set to begin this August.
Director Phan Gia Nhat Linh is slated to lead the project with backing from CJ HK Entertainment and its partner, A Viet Media. The former film critic-turned-director released his first film, Em La Ba Noi Cua Anh, in 2015, and Co Gai Den Tu Hom Qua in 2017.
The Golden Age of Cambodia’s silver screen
It was one evening in September 1973. 13-year-old Tang Muyly was dressing up for the theatre. A new American film had just opened at Phnom Penh’s cinema, close to her house, and she could not wait to see it.
She was waiting impatiently for her older sister, who was taking too long to dress. And then – bang! – a deafening explosion shook her home and the nearby buildings. There was a bomb attack at the cinema and her sister’s tardiness had just saved her life.
“I heard that the attack was the work of a Khmer Rouge agent,” Muyly, now a 63-year-old retired housewife, tells GT2. “I also heard that the attacker placed the bomb in the cinema before running out.”
Lots not sold: Myanmar’s developing art auction scene
While Frontier was interviewing Ko Ko San the day after the second auction, he received a call from a prospective buyer who made an offer for one of the paintings. Ko Ko San said he would consider the offer and hung up. “I don’t know why they can’t bid at auction,” he said. “I don’t know why it embarrasses them.”
The caller later offered to buy the painting at a big discount on its reserve price at the auction. Four paintings were sold this way after the first auction.
“Most Myanmar tend to seek a bargain in everything they buy, but this is incompatible with auctions, which aim to help sellers achieve the highest price, wherever they are held,” Ko Ko San said. “I think you can see this upside-down picture of auctions only in Myanmar.”
Spiritual Lit and the Singapore Dream
How does capitalism affect Singapore literature? Well, it turns it into a free market product instead of a soul mechanism. Literature has become one of many tools of the system. It can be a vulgar display of power, in which the chosen lexicon prevents accessibility to those who speak a less colonial language. It can be an agent of archaic academic practices, when we are again made to revere the words of some deceased white dude. It can be the pressure to make Insta poetry to collect more followers and improve one’s social metrics.
To all the bards we have known…
The Malaysian Reserve
EVERYBODY can write, but not everyone is a wordsmith. Some are skilled at making puns, some are good at rhymes.
Some might have the flair of making a sentence sound so special that it gets stuck in your head.
Take William Shakespeare, for example. The opening phrase from Act 3, Scene 1 of “Hamlet”, “To be, or not to be. That is the question” has become a popular cultural reference for some four centuries after the play was written.
The Bard of Avon, as he is sometimes referred to, is one of the most influential writers in the English language.
Closer to home, we have famous poets such as Zurinah Hassan, Usman Awang and A Samad Said.
Spirits of a virtual world
Although the Covid-19 outbreak has forced people to hunker down and stick to their home isolation protocol as encouraged by the government, apparently it cannot prevent them from accessing knowledge.
Realising the importance of self-isolation during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic while responding to people’s love for reading, organisers of one of Thailand’s long-standing book fairs have decided to transform the 48th National Book Fair and 18th Bangkok International Book Fair into an online shopping platform, meaning the physical fair that was supposed to take place at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani until April 5 has moved completely online.
Surprisingly, feedback has been really good since the first day of the event with great support from readers everywhere, even a little too good.
About the author(s)
Nabilah Said is an award-winning playwright, editor and cultural commentator. She is also an artist who works with text across various artforms and formats. Her plays have been staged in Singapore and London, including ANGKAT, which won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. Nabilah is the former editor of ArtsEquator.