The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have resulted in a number of digital productions, which allow the performing arts community to continue making art, and fans (anywhere in the world, in fact) retain the ability to enjoy it. Asli – Resonance in Our Roots is a multi-disciplinary digital performance of live music and puppetry that aims to connect children to Malaysian indigenous culture and folkloric heritage.
Asli is spearheaded by Kalpana Paranjothy, a sitar teacher at the Temple of Fine Arts (TFA), and features the talents of scriptwriter Ummi Nadiah, visual artist Deepa Rajendra and various Malaysian musicians, including some from the Orang Asli tribe. An attempt to showcase artistic unity through diversity, the show will channel all proceeds to the betterment of our indigenous communities.
The music and folktales bring audiences through a journey across Malaysia’s diverse ecosystems with stories that highlight universal values such as respect, compassion and hope for the environment, and our human and non-human communities. The retelling of these local and regional stories aspire to find a common ground with audiences in our multiracial and multi-faith nation and inform us of possibilities for a sustainable future.
Asli goes live starting Dec 5, with access granted by way of donations that can be made here. Ahead of the show, Kalpana weighs in why this production is unique, even by TFA’s standards, and why it is worth the watch for children and adults alike.
- Asli utilises not one, but four different types of puppetries that call on the skills of multiple performers: shadow puppetry, or wayang kulit, hand puppets, figures manipulated by strings and muppets.
- If you’ve never heard orang asli music, this is the ideal introduction to it and that too via highly accomplished musicians who play a multitude of instruments, including but not limited to the sitar, gambus, violin, erhu, rebab, piano, percussion and side rhythms.
- This show is as Malaysian as they come – not only do the performers represent the many cultures and ethnicities found in the country, it also retells local folktales, including an unusual tale from Kelantan.
- Nature enthusiasts have multiple landscapes to be inspired by with Asli — caves, mountains, wetlands, oceans and rainforests. Asli also connects contemporary environmental threats and issues through the retelling of these folktales.
- Asli’s narrator is a flying fox.
Catch it live at Kanagasabai Hall (The Temple of Fine Arts, KL) or watch the online performance via YouTube on Dec 5 or Dec 12. For ticketing details, see here.