The Star/Azhar Mahfof

Weekly Southeast Asia Radar: Protests over Marcos-sponsored play; the Spaniard in Singapore films

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:

Via CNN Philippines


UP theater group apologizes for presence of Marcos daughter in campus
CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 8)  A theater organization of the University of the Philippines has apologized for the presence of a daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the state university last Saturday.

“Individuals in DUP (Dulaang UP) may have differences in political leanings but we wish to assure the UP community and the public that DUP will be more discerning in its actions in the future. We have not forgotten the atrocities of Martial Law and we are one with the community in its protest against human rights abuses,” the organization said in a statement.

DUP also apologized for the “disruptions during and after the performance.”

Irene Marcos was among the guests at the gala performance of DUP’s play The House of Bernarda Alba.

[Read more…]


Namngoen Tae: The Musical. Photos courtesy of Dreambox


A political message of hope
Bangkok Post

Back with the second of three productions to celebrate its 33rd anniversary, DreamboxTheatre Bkk steps into the future with a new playwright and fifth sung-through musical, Namngoen Tae: The Musical.

Namngoen Tae is Narit Pachoey’s first production on a professional stage. The young playwright is still completing his master’s at Chulalongkorn University, but he first caught attention two years ago with Nebula, a play about Thai writer Chit Phumisak’s persecution as a student at Chulalongkorn University. He returns to the subject in musical form with Long Live Jit Poumisak, which was attended by members of the Future Forward party. Narit started working on the book for Ngamngoen Tae two years ago, with Dreambox’s resident playwright Daraka Wongsiri as his adviser.

Narit’s plays have tackled political figures on the left and the right. Since Thailand’s recent political upheavals that crudely divide people into shades of shirt colours, it’s rare to see a theatre artist who creates works about both sides of the political chasm.

Short film ‘Tak Ada yang Gila di Kota Ini’ to compete at Busan festival
Jakarta Post

Short film Tak Ada yang Gila di Kota Ini (No One is Crazy in This Town) directed by Wregas Bhanuteja is set to compete at the Wide Angle: Asian Short Film Competition program at the 24th Busan International Film Festival.

Produced by Adi Ekatama from Rekata Studio, Tak Ada yang Gila di Kota Ini is to hold its world premiere at the festival, which will be held from Oct. 3 to 12 in Busan, South Korea.

Up to 300 films from 70 countries will grace 30 screens across the city during the event, vying for the attention of moviegoers.

[Read more…]

Photo: Mark Lee
‘I consider myself a Singaporean filmmaker’: The Spanish man behind our best movies
Channel NewsAsia

Fran Borgia is notably the go-to choice for some of Singapore’s most lauded directors, producing films like Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice, Yeo Siew Hua’s A Land Imagined, K Rajagopal’s A Yellow Bird and SG50 omnibus 7 Letters.

For the uninitiated, Apprentice premiered at 2016’s Cannes Un Certain Regard and won numerous accolades including the NETPAC award at the Golden Horse Film Festival and Rising Director award at the Busan International Film Festival, while A Yellow Bird won acclaim at Cannes Critics’ Week and A Land Imagined became the first ever Singapore film to win the Golden Leopard – the top prize at the much-celebrated Locarno Film Festival.

Not on to rest on his laurels, Borgia also co-produced Lav Diazʼs A Lullaby To The Sorrowful which won the Silver Bear at the 2016 Berlin Film Fesitval and served as the Singapore line producer for the massive hit that was Hollywood’s Crazy Rich Asians, 2014’s Hitman: Agent 47 and most recently HBO’s Westworld Season 3.

But when one suggests to the film producer that it is he who is the secret sauce in almost every award-winning Singapore film, the 39-year-old humbly deflects.

[Read more…]


Thuma Collective members lead training programmes (top and left) and photographers answer questions about the challenges they face in their professional and personal lives (right). (Victoria Milko | Frontier)


Thuma: a collective of their own
Frontier Myanmar

In a crowded gallery in downtown Yangon, four photographers from Myanmar and Bangladesh sat at the front of the room, answering questions about the challenges they face in their professional and personal lives.

Something they had in common was agreement that being a woman impacted the way they are treated and perceived by society.

“Because we have women’s bodies, we are treated differently, by both men and women,” one of the photographers said. “This is why we have to have each other.”

[Read more…]


Amar Shahid’s ‘Adoration Of The Magi’ (oil on canvas), which is part of his pop-up exhibit ‘Faith And Fiction’ at the Zoo gallery in Petaling Jaya.


Artist draws inspiration from damaged old photographs and oral histories
Star 2, Malaysia

Back in the late 1960s and 1970s, the late Salehudin Mansor, a photographer for a magazine, would go around, taking snapshots of ordinary people and daily life in Kuala Lumpur. He amassed quite a portfolio of these works, which have not gone to waste.

Today, his son, the artist Amar Shahid has decided to pay tribute to his father’s photographs by reproducing them in an art exhibition.

When Amar says “reproducing them”, he means reframing these photos as paintings … with the old photographs’ imperfections and all.

[Read more…]


Muadz Abd Rahim’s ‘Simple Meals Come With Complaint’ (oil and acrylic on canvas, 2019), which is part of the ‘Sama-Sama: Same-Same’ group exhibition. Photo: The Star/Azhar Mahfof


Group exhibition mixes imaginary realities and cautionary warnings about Malaysia
Star2, Malaysia

Often, when extreme voices get louder and divisive forces pose a sinister threat to pluralism in Malaysia, it is the artists, poets, writers and philosophers of the nation who urgently remind us of who we really are.

Art, in so many ways, is the conscience of a nation.

In the Sama-Sama: Same-Same group exhibition, showing at the White Box, Publika in Kuala Lumpur till Sept 16, it is the turn of the artists to try and make sense of life in Malaysia Baharu.

Via Prestige Thailand


Writing Wrongs: How The Bangkok Literary Review Is Set to Change Thai Literature
Prestige Thailand

Noh Anothai’s career began with the discovery of a lack: a Thailand-shaped hole in the English-reading literary world. It all started in his summer before tenth grade, a period when his unusual interest in “moving between languages” evolved into comparing the original Greek of Homer’s Odyssey with its countless translations.

Soon he was repeating this pastime with Dante’s Inferno and Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. And then, in the years that followed, he moved on to the texts you might reasonably expect a bookish young Thai boy growing up in Chicago, thousands of miles from his homeland, to gravitate towards: Thai literature. However, it proved a largely fruitless search. “There was often not a single translation of an individual work, much less several, and the ones that did exist were difficult to get a hold of,” he recalls. “And when I finally managed to read some of them, I was usually disappointed.”

[Read more…]

Screengrab of video. Via VOA Cambodia.
Playwright Nurtures Spoken Theater to Its Social Role
VOA Cambodia

Sopheak Soung is among the few Cambodian playwrights who are working to keep one of Cambodia’s oldest art forms, “Lakhorn Niyeay,” alive. Originally from the southeastern province of Kandal, the 41-year-old artist moved to Phnom Penh in 1996 to study “Lakhorn Niyeay,” a form of spoken theater. Today, as founder and director of a nonprofit, Khmer Art Action, Sopheak writes and directs spoken theater performances, and produces short films to highlight social issues in Cambodian society. In May, Sopheak was invited to speak to more than 200 artists from 40 countries at a workshop organized by the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. During the trip, Sopheak spoke to VOA Khmer about the Cambodian theater industry, his career trajectory and the importance of creativity in evolving Cambodian culture.

[Read more…]


ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar is compiled every week. All sources and credit belong to the original publishers and writers. Click here for past editions of Southeast Asia Radar. 

About the author(s)

Kathy Rowland is the Managing Editor of ArtsEquator.com, a registered charity that she co-founded with Jenny Daneels in 2016. The site is dedicated to supporting and promoting arts criticism with a regional perspective in Southeast Asia. Kathy has worked in the arts for over 25 years, working in the areas of critical writing and arts advocacy, with a special interest in media platforms for the arts. She is the Project Lead for ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asian Arts and Culture Censorship Documentation Project, launched in 2021. She has written extensively on censorship of arts and culture in Malaysia. She was a member of the International Programme Advisory Committee of the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture, 2019.

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