Advocating Through Theatre
Senses of Malaysia|Oct/Nov/Dec 2017

Malaysian director Kee Thuan Chye has the ability to connect the past to the present in his perceptive plays. Sharuna Segaren chats with him in the midst of preparing for his latest play, Swordfish + Concubine.

Sixty-three-year-old Kee Thuan Chye is a Malaysian actor, dramatist, poet, director, author, playwright, and journalist. Originally from Penang, Chye is a noted civil rights activist and speaker who expresses in his plays how he perceives the political and social climate of Malaysia as it stands.

A veteran in theatre, films, and television in Malaysia as well as neighbouring Singapore, Chye also co-founded the theatre group KAMI in 1981, and has written numerous plays.In 2001, Kee Thuan Chye became the Associate Editor of The Star in Kuala Lumpur, creating and editing the English column, Mind  Our English, until retirement in May 2009. His continued efforts to speak out honestly without fear or favour made him one of the first recipients of The Annexe Heroes Freedom of Expression Awards when it was launched in 2008.

His success is not only defined by his acting and directing work on stage and in films, but also as an author. He has written several books, including the popular ‘Unbelievably Stupid!’, ‘Unbelievably Stupid Too!’ and ‘No More Bull**** Please, We’re All Malaysians!’. Chye is known as a remarkably honest and witty writer with a penchant for telling the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or controversial it may be.

BRINGING HIS DREAM TO LIFE

I met up with Chye at a quiet café in Damansara, where he told me that he took a break for several years from directing and writing plays, choosing to concentrate on his acting career. He is well known in the theatre industry for his plays such as ‘1984 Here and Now’ which was staged in 1985 and ‘We Could **** You, Mr Birch’ in 1994, which were very successful.

This year will mark his return as a Director and Producer for his play titled ‘Swordfish + Concubine’ which was written in 2004. Chye had always planned to bring this play to life, but there were a few obstacles in the way which delayed the process in Malaysia.In Singapore, it premiered in 2008 and in 2011. In 2016, a Mandarin version was staged in Malaysia by Loh Kok Man, one of Malaysia’s leading directors of Chinese language theatre, where it was well received.

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