Friday 8 April 2022

#AtoZChallenge: G for Guerilla Theatre

The thing about moving is losing things. I'm pretty sure I saved a lot of references on this, but I don't know where they are anymore. 

At any rate, the idea of a courtly theatre-dance performance was first introduced in Amok, a scene that I later echoed in The Tale of the Hostage Prince (See B for Bayangan)


Amok, Chapter 2 excerpt

Note: this scene is in Mikal’s point of view

There’s an awkward silence between us, masked by the strains of music from the ensemble. 

“This troupe is very good,” Layla says.

I nod. They’re playing one of the founding stories of Terang, a theatre-dance ensemble that features younger performers. I wonder what Layla thinks about the fact that half of them look like they have Bayangan heritage. I’m sure she’s just ignoring it out of courtesy. 

It’s a piece I’m particularly fond of, one that Yos used to perform when we were children, before he’d been assigned to my service. I’d been so jealous I’d begged to be allowed to learn to dance, only to be told that the art was meant for courtesans and servants. Not satisfied, I pestered Yosua into teaching me some of the moves and hand signals in private. 

I search for them out of habit: the open left hand, palm down, meaning wait; two hands clenched on each other, pulled in to their chests, signalling trust. Terang was founded on trusting and waiting on Kudus. The two signals are repeated many times in this piece, though the performers’ movements are so fluid it’s difficult to pick them out unless you’re looking for them. I wonder who selected this piece for tonight. Not Ayahanda, surely. It’s not the thing he’d select right after arguing with the Temple. Neither is he paying attention to it. Tok Yaakub is, though, and I wonder if he was the one who requested it. He nods in my direction when he notices me watching him.


The idea first came to me because I was bored and borrowed a bunch of stuff from the Brunel University Library, one of them being Theatre in Southeast Asia by James R. Brandon. I was thinking of a more dikir barat style performance, because hey, we did learn that in school. 

Theatre in Southeast AsiaTheatre in Southeast Asia by James R. Brandon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally finished this by making myself sit down and read the whole thing.
It's a little outdated by now, but it has good stuff which has inspired how I'm going to add theatre into my WIP. I mean, court-funded theatre will be fun to write and guerilla-style theatre troupes should be a thing.
The differences between individualistic Western plays and the community/religious base of Southeast Asian theatre was interesting to note.

So yes, court-funded theatre made it into the first book. And by the time I started writing The Tale of the Hostage Prince, the idea of the guerrilla theatre really captured me, so I ran with it. 

I was trying to find a picture of the book before I remembered that I probably added it on Goodreads, so here's the only picture of it that I apparently took. 


That's it for today!

Head back to my theme reveal and master list.

Go check out the other A to Z Bloggers!


The Tale of the Hostage Prince (Book 1.5) – Releases 14 April 2022

Yosua wears an uneasy crown. Although he is now Raja of Bayangan, he still longs for the land of his birth where everything was much simpler…and less deadly.

But peace doesn’t come easily, not for a twenty-year-old servant playacting at being king.

With his parents brutally murdered and his uncle bent on revenge, Yosua must decide where his loyalties truly lie. With his only remaining relative and the kingdom he has claimed? Or with his best friend Mikal and the sultanate that raised him as a hostage?


International purchases

1 comment:

  1. So interesting! It's a sad fact of life that things get lost as we move (whether on to other things or homes).

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: G