Merah Pawana Promo…



Teater Ekamatra presents

Merah Pawana

Performed in Malay without Subtitles

Fort Canning Gate

18th, 19th, 20th & 21st November 2010, 8pm

$45 / $35 (Student Concession)

Group Promotions : $140 / $120 (Student Concession) for 4 tickets

Tickets from or AXS machines.

Email for group bookings and enquiries.


This is a story of strangers coming to one’s land; of the changes, beneficial and tumultuous that come from this; and whose one is amidst this.

The land of Berantah is divided between followers of a native spiritual guru and a foreign faith. By pitting wealth against tradition, Berantah becomes a land devoid of peace. Dilemmas of religion and practice soon become confused with that of money and politics.

Berantah finds itself to be the centre of the struggle for dominance between the old and the new. One young boy, Merah, urges his people to reclaim their identity. At the same time, they live in fear of a prophesized disaster, a pawana that would sweep the land of Berantah. Will this pawana ruin and cleanse? And what will stand after?

To be held at the historic Fort Gate, this parable of the cultural and religious colonization of two tribes, invites the Malay community to re-look their historical and cultural position. This grand scale production that will make use of traditional Malay dance, music and stories even as it speaks of the contemporary society, aims to convert non-theatre goers into attending a family-friendly, community event.

MERAH PAWANA reaffirms the value of art and theatre for the community, and the importance of the community for art and theatre.


Written by Rafaat Hamzah Directed by Najib Soiman

Music Direction by Azrin Abdullah Choreography by Norisham Osman

Dramaturgy by Zizi Azah Abdul Majid

Live Music by Gerentak Network and Orkestar Trio

Accompanied by Sriwana dancers




Brotherhood of Big Guns

Rafaat Hamzah, personality and rebel poet; Najib Soiman, theatre activist; Azrin Abdullah, today’s traditional music man

Three veteran shakers of the Malay arts scene make an explosive recipe for either a collective output or competing inputs. Each having multiple expertise and wide-reaching visions, how would a novel script, big directions and authentic sounds come together?

Rafaat is a two-time award winning actor in SURIA’s “Pesta Perdana” and a regular judge for its talent competition “Anugerah Skrin”. True to his reputation, Rafaat shone in the lead role in “Rock Opera… Kisah seorang seniman” (2005, Esplanade Concert Hall), and as Jebat in “Wangi Jadi Saksi” (2007, Esplanade Theatre Studio), both directly addressing the Malay culture and history. Rafaat makes waves and noise not only for himself. His verses, collected in the anthology “Yang Bilang” (2007), are ripe with socio-political strife. He also lends his pen to emerging artistes, creating a new stable of credible Singapore Malay music. His talent management and production company, COKELAT, exists by the need to showcase current and contributing Malay artistes, having twice organised the “Festival Melayu Ada” event. Rafaat’s gripes are many and he writes MERAH PAWANA in continuing his concerns with the awareness of Malay identity among the Malay community.

Najib is a top-class actor, active in both Malay and English theatre, having won Best Actor at the 9th ST Life! Theatre Awards 2009. He has long had his hands in the dikir barat and traditional music scene, grabbing champion titles and recently forming his trusty band of musicians Gerentak Network. Najib’s flair for directing big-scale productions was apparent from the highly acclaimed “Gentarasa 2007: Titisan Cacamerba” where he worked with community talents to create professional theatre. His latest presentation, “Jiwo Jiro” (2010, M1 Singapore Fringe Festival), exploring marginalised people through marginal forms with a cast made up of students, had the press raving about his commitment to involve younger people in theatre-making. Always in the driver’s seat, Najib was the President of Teater Ekamatra from 2006-2007 and the Artistic Director of Panggung ARTS from 2008-2009. Najib is the very person to spearhead MERAH PAWANA.

Azrin Abdullah’s sounds, created with Sri Mahligai, is the mainstay used in traditional Malay dance in Singapore today. Azrin has thus collaborated with every professional, semi-professional or community Malay cultural group, working closely to compose, arrange, produce or engineer a variety of musical visions. His expertise now has him in demand for commercial albums and TV programmes as well. The People’s Association has identified Azrin as a valuable asset, thus bringing him to various overseas festivals. As the go-to for traditional Malay music in Singapore today, Azrin would not pass off the opportunity of influencing an influential work like MERAH PAWANA.

This collaboration has been years in waiting. Najib has long been trying to work together with whom he calls “two maestros”. MERAH PAWANA is the first time Najib is directing something he has not written himself, and the first time Rafaat is not directing his own writing. Rafaat is excited to see how different his work will turn out in Najib’s hands and how different Najib’s work will be with his influence. Will these maestros be able to handle themsleves and each other?


Hatta’s Star

Hatta Said, having been in the industry since 1998, has slowly built his bases over the years only to explode into the fore everywhere in the last two years. If one has forgotten his boyband (Echoboys) and TV personality (IKON Suria) days, or even constant appearances in popular productions by TheatreWorks, ACTION Theatre, Toy Factory and WildRiCE (1998 through 2005), you cannot miss him now. These days he is a regular on TV and on stage, starring in Kopi Bujang (Suria) and Gerimis Di Hati (Suria); on Fried Rice Paradise The Musical (SRT), Fewling (Panggung Arts), Chestnuts Does Christmas (STAGES) and Nadirah (Teater Ekamatra). After MERAH PAWANA, which Hatta feels is an unprecedented offering in Malay theatre, Hatta is slated to appear in Charged, written by The Fingerplayer’s Chong Tze Chien and directed by Teater Ekamatra’s Zizi Azah. Judging by his drive, and growingly impressive arsenal of experience, Hatta is now unstoppable.

Oldies Overthrown

The combined forces of acclaimed industry names – Sani Hussin, Rizman Putra – is not enough to carry MERAH PAWANA through. MERAH PAWANA is completed in presenting fresh faces – Nadiah Mohamed and Faizal Abdullah. As rising names in the scene, we want to see them match up to the veterans. These are the artilleries of talents we bring to MERAH PAWANA.

Sani is a household name, with a Pesta Perdana win and numerous nominations under his belt. He is institutionally recognised bagging the NAC Overseas Theatre Award. Sani has had a long history directing productions for Teater Ekamatra and pushing our works. Now regarded as a mentor, as the recent SURIA’s Anugerah Skrin competition witnessed, Sani is well-placed to motivate the younger generation of up-and-coming actors and actresses.

Rizman’s cutting-edge work bagged him the President’s Young Talent Award with performance art traveling internationally. Active in the bigger English scene with CAKE Theatre, Rizman regularly returns to local Malay theatre, contributing to a train of Teater Ekamatra’s children’s programmes, in his dedication to affect and excite the scene. In Rizman’s view, “the new faces are a great bunch to work with, they are very energetic and committed, having a good level of discipline and earnestness in their approach.

In catching up with the elder two, Nadiah and Faizal have in just the last year been seen everywhere. Nadiah Mohamed, deemed the face of NAFA Theatre, has gained a little following for herself since her appearance in Cinta Ixora, Princess & JuruKamera 2 and the current Kopi Bujang on Suria Channel. She is also collecting stage experience and training with productions under Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and Variasi Performing Arts Group.

Faizal has turned out to be the highlight player in productions with Panggung Arts, Young & Wild and Stages. Hungry for experience, Faizal has also made TV appearances on OKTO. MERAH PAWANA completes their year”s whirlwind. They are humbled to be working with the big guns now and are glad to finally arrive.


Malay Music Movers

In presenting quality and reflecting progress, MERAH PAWANA wishes to catch and exhibit the real movers in the industry, before they move too fast for us.

Orkestar Trio sets out to explore the versatility and context of music in the Malay Archipelago in the modern world; to break the barriers between musical genres; and to share their voice. Orkestar Trio has performed Singapore-Malay traditional music beyond our shores and beyond the region, to China, Japan, Italy and through Java, to overwhelming response. Most recently they were invited to “Solo International Ethnic Music Festival” and “Yogyakarta Gamelan Festival”, adding to their list of international gigs. Despite their raving success beyond our shores, Orkestar Trio does not shy from going back to performing for the community. In the search of an authentic voice, MERAH PAWANA is right up their alley.

Norisham Osman – Creating New Wave Malay Dance Theatre

In Najib Soiman’s words, Sham is “the new Osman Hamid”. In fact, having trained under Osman Hamid, the name synonymous to Contemporary Malay Dance, for the past ten years, Sham has almost become his right-hand man. Now it is time for Sham to hold his own ground in a new teritorry known as theatre. Keeping his roots in dance, this LaSalle Arts Management student, is propelled to explore its multi-faceted function in theatre proper, not merely in theatrical dance. Is this revolution or evolution; and is there a difference? His first outing as choreographer was also entrusted to him by Najib Soiman who threw him a chorus of thirty odd student-performers to work with in Jiwo Jiro. MERAH PAWANA is his the biggest-scale project to date. He hopes to achieve Najib’s epic vision in this grand offering of music and dance.

Stars & Upstarts – Introducing MEREKA

MEREKA is the new youth wing of Teater Ekamatra with 14 hand-picked young individuals embarking on a year-long programme. MEREKA aims to ensure the continuity of Malay theatre by nurturing young enthusiasts into committed professionals, with extensive knowledge of theatre.

Part of the group led by Irfan Kasban makes the MERAH PAWANA chorus. Juggling rehearsals with the MEREKA training schedule attests to the commitment by our youths to learn and be immersed in the the scene. MERAH PAWANA provides a hands-on platform for the MEREKA group and other new faces to work with experienced and acclaimed names, further honing their skills. Teater Ekamatra is committed to creating such opportunities, seeing it as a vital part of developing the theatre industry.

Bukit Larangan – Malay History for the Malay Community

The venue pick for MERAH PAWANA is deliberate. Fort Canning houses the Iskandar Shah Shrine, believed by some locals in Singapore to be the burial site of Raja Iskandar Shah, the last of five kings to rule Singapore in the 14th century. The Malay chronicles state that the first King of Malays, Sri Tri Buana and his Chief Minister, Demang Lebar Daun were also buried at Bukit Larangan, the former name of Fort Canning. This site thus evokes histories of Malay royalty and ancestry. MERAH PAWANA hopes to recreate a sense of belonging by gathering the Malay community together in witnessing their stories played out with a grand visual and musical offering that is theatre.

The Ekamatra Circle – History & Growth

MERAH PAWANA manifests the full circle that Teater Ekamatra has come around. Since its founding in 1988 by Lut Ali, the company has been pushing the boundaries of theatre and language, to uphold both individual equality and cultural pluralism.

MERAH PAWANA revisits the scale and concerns of DHAVUSYA, also done at Fort Canning in 1998, directed by Khairudin Hori, then Teater Ekamatra’s Associate Director. Amidst the stripped down and minimalist character of our past works staged at The Substation Theatre and The Esplanade Recital Studio, we are embarking on more ambitious and embracing form to reconnect with a potential mass audience. Whilst maintaining the highest level of artistic integrity, this new approach by Teater Ekamatra ties in with the formation of our new working committee in September 2009 that includes fresh faces to create new synergies and revitalise the company. The cultural issues brought forth in MERAH PAWANA is also a reflection of Artistic Director Zizi Azah Abdul Majid’s plans to take Ekamatra on a season that will dig deep at the issue of the Malay identity.


Production Team

Dramaturgy: Zizi Azah Abdul Majid

Playwright: Rafaat Haji Hamzah

Director: Najib Soiman (bijaN)

Music Director: Azrin Abdullah

Choreographer: Norisham Osman

Cast: Farah Ong, Norisman Mustafa, Faizal Abdullah, Muhammad Affan Noor, Hatta Said, Rizman Putra, Irfan Kasban, Sani Hussin, Nadiah Mohammad, Sulaiman Ismail, Nafisah Anwar, Syaiful Ariffin

Chorus: Amalina Shukor Khalid Supandi, Atika Marwan, Nur Amalina Juffri, Daeia Rahim, Nurul Asyikin, Farah Yasmine, Siti Zuraida Rahim, Ghazali Muzakir, Yazid Jalil, Habibah Mohckeram, Zhein Mu’adhib, Haizad Adam

Musicians: Alhafiz Jamat, Fauzi Basir, Hafiz Hamzah, Ismahairie Putra Ishak, Riduan Zalani, Ridwan Ramli

Lighting Designer: Zizi Azah Abdul Majid

Set Designer : Izmir Ickbal

Costume Designer : Azni Samdin

Production Manager: Norisham Osman

Stage Manager : Fezhah Maznan


Company Profile

Teater Ekamatra is a non-profit theatre company that is dedicated to developing and producing socially relevant plays that reflect the contemporary Singaporean vernacular. Teater Ekamatra believes in integrating the arts, social services and the different cultures as a vehicle for entertainment, education, tolerance and affecting social change. The company believes that theatre must be seen as an integral part of Singapore’s artistic evolution. To renew itself, theatre must constantly reassess its role in society and address what role it may play in the future.

In existence since 1988, Teater Ekamatra is recognised for its dedication and commitment to developing and expanding definitions and forms of Malay Theatre, and is a recipient of the National Arts Council Annual Arts Grant. Teater Ekamatra does not define nor restrict Malay Theatre to performances in the Malay language, but seek to give voice and visibility to the Malay condition and experience with regards to contemporary local and global climate. Ultimately, Teater Ekamatra is about individual equality, cultural pluralism and artistic excellence.


Fezhah Maznan

General Manager

Teater Ekamatra

Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre

182 Cecil Street, #01-10, Singapore 069547

Tel: +65 6323 5443

Fax: +65 6323 6528

Hp: +65 9168 4158


Author: Pujangga Malam™

Well-known on RIA 89.7FM as a controversial and sensational critic able to invoke thought-provoking and sometimes, fiery responses from fellow listeners. Have since evolved into a distinguished blogger of reputable claim with takes on the Malay entertainment industry and football-related matters. Brutally honest and believes in only reporting the truth as I see, hear or experience it. Self-styled critic who does not mince his words and is definitely a non-conformist.

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