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Performing Arts Company Subang Jaya Theatresauce Gets Millennials and Gen Z Excited About Going to the Theater | The life

Theatresauce EDL Director Dinesh Kumar (centre) assisted by Theatersauce staff prepares for his segment in ‘Children Shouldn’t Play in the Dark’. — Photo by Choo Choy May

PETALING JAYA, March 23 — Creating live performances for Millennials and Gen Z can be a challenge or a blank canvas of opportunity, depending on the theater practitioner end of the spectrum.

Luckily for Kelvin Wong, the artistic director of Theatresauce seems to have found a winning formula that has screen addicts excited about going to the theatre.

Take his latest show, Children should not play in the dark for example.

All tickets for his 14 shows were purchased in four days.

The showcase is a deconstruction of the 1912 work by Bengali playwright Rabindranath Tagore The post office which is presented by five early-career directors from Theatresauce’s Emerging Directors Lab (EDL) program.

The program, now in its third cycle, offers aspiring theater directors a year-long training with the Subang Jaya-based company to hone their craft by creating three showcases.

“The director’s training program is something that I don’t think any other theater company is doing right now,” Wong said. malaysian mail.

“I think that angle of focus from the director sets us apart from everyone else.”

The five emerging directors for this season are Dhinesha Karthigesu, Dinesh Kumar, Low Yee Choy, Mia Sabrina Mahadir and Dexter Zhen.

Tagore’s original work tells the story of a young boy who is confined to a room at his foster uncle’s due to an incurable illness and interacts with the outside world through a window.

“This was written 100 years ago, but didn’t we all do it last year?” Wong spoke about the play’s relevance and borderless appeal.

Wong says the bulk of Theatresauce's audience is made up of millennials and Gen Zers who are attending the theater for the first time.  — Photo by Choo Choy May
Wong says the bulk of Theatresauce’s audience is made up of millennials and Gen Zers who are attending the theater for the first time. — Photo by Choo Choy May

Poignantly, it was also the same play that was performed with great success in the concentration camps when it was staged in Germany during World War II.

In another significant staging, he was played in an orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland by activist, doctor and educator Janusz Korczak just before he and the children were taken to an extermination camp by the Nazis. .

In this experimental showcase, described as intimate and immersive, the public will travel from one space to another while the storytellers explore the themes of time, confinement and death.

“This show is for people who would like to see how far a live performance can go,” Wong said.

“We move from one space to another, a bit like a haunted house or an immersive experience, it’s another way of experiencing theatre.

“Second, I would say [this play is for] those who want to experience being touched by familiar themes unfolding around us in a fresh and nonjudgmental way because The post office deals with confinement and death.

Since Theatersauce’s audience is mostly Millennials and Gen Z who are going to the theater for the first time, Wong said shorter attention spans and visual storytelling are taken into account when creating the theater. creation of works.

“The question arises if young audiences have their Netflix and Disney Plus and their screens on their phones, why commune in a space together to watch a live theater performance?”

It’s a question Wong often asks his students at Sunway University where he directs the performing arts program.

“I would ask them if you’d rather be in a stadium watching BTS live or on screen and most of them said they’d rather watch them live,” said Wong, who founded Theatresauce. in 2016.

“There is a point being made that live performance is very different from watching something that is pre-recorded or broadcast live on a screen.

EDL director Low Yee Choy inflates balloons for his showcase.  — Photo by Choo Choy May
EDL director Low Yee Choy inflates balloons for his showcase. — Photo by Choo Choy May

“I think liveliness and human connection, anything can happen, there’s something very magical about that and we’re trying to educate our young audience to do that.”

Theatresauce often advertises its shows on platforms used by young people, such as Instagram, which helps promote their venue and reach schools and universities.

“It’s not that people don’t want to come, I think people or young people don’t know very well that things like this exist,” Wong added.

“A lot of young people tell us, ‘I wish someone had told me about this sooner or I wish my teacher had exposed me to something like this sooner, so I would come on my own theater’.”

In terms of content produced by the company, Theatersauce takes a contemporary approach to engaging audiences and prefers to avoid plays written 50-70 years ago.

“To me, that doesn’t reflect how theater should be consumed today,” Wong said.

“The younger audience is much more active right now – as soon as we post something on Facebook and Instagram, we are already participating.

“This participatory culture among young people is something that I think the performing arts can capitalize on more.”

Seeking ways to engage the next generation of theatergoers is an area Wong plans to explore further as he pursues his doctorate in the near future.

“The danger with performing arts and the arts in general is that if you don’t move with the times, it shows in your audience,” Wong said.

Theatresauce is located at 3-3 Jalan USJ 21/5, Subang Jaya, 47630 Selangor. To learn more about the company and its upcoming shows, visit theatresauce.com.

The company's latest showcase is a deconstruction of the 1912 piece
The company’s latest showcase is a deconstruction of the 1912 play “The Post Office” by Rabindranath Tagore. — Image courtesy of Theatresauce