Friday, December 19, 2014

Superhero the Musical - The Story of the PPR Kids

"The art of theatre humanises the human race" - Samad, main character in 'Superhero'

After more than 2 hours watching the musical theatre "Superhero" at the National Museum's Auditorium, I still could not believe such a beautiful and lively performance come from the PPR kids of Kuala Lumpur. PPR, which stands for 'Projek Perumahan Rakyat' (People's Housing Project) is an effort by the government to relocate squatters to live in permanent homes with more "comfortable, relaxed and healthier environment". However, "comfortable, relaxed and healthier environment" is not easily achieved when their living space is cramped with limited number of rooms, air ventilation and space to move around. 

With increasing family size, it is easy to feel suffocated living in such small spaces, which why children and teenagers who live in these places often spend most of their time outside their houses and explore the world on their own. While it is a good thing to explore the world, it can also be a risky business for kids when they are out and about without the supervision of their parents. Especially in this city of Kuala Lumpur. Kids can either find good inspiration outdoors and do something good with their lives, or make friends with the wrong people and end up getting involved with unhealthy activities, skip school and worse of all, commit crimes.

On a couple of occasions, I gave talks to these PPR kids in programs that are organized by myHarapan (the Youth Trust Foundation). I was supposed to motivate them, but even before giving these talks, I knew I to had to crack my head on how to get these kids interested. I mean, come on, I talked to those people at myHarapan and they say it is hard enough for teachers to get attention of these kids in school. Why would they want to listen to some stranger coming to give so called 'motivation'? So I decided to scrape all my old scripts and decided to tell a different story. Unlike the speech I gave at MRSMs or high schools, I didn't focus on them to be successful just academically, but on being successful in doing anything that they are interested in. I know there are PPR kids who are academically brilliant, but for the majority of them who secretly have inborn talent, I encouraged them not to be afraid to do what they like, do their best in it, and make it productive. I told them the story of my good friend Jimmy, a chef with no academic qualifications, not even PMR or SPM, who ended up working as a sushi chef in Switzerland. My talk was about going all out in whatever you do. To my relief, I saw their gleaming eyes as they relate to my story, and I know I had their attention when one of them shouted "Mak saya jual laksa!", when I asked them if theu know anything about the food business. Best of all, I saw hope in their eyes.

"Hanya perlu percaya!" (Just need to believe), shouted one of the character during the play. It became a theme of the musical theatre, that if you believe, anyone can become a hero. What send tears down many of the audiences is that these characters, they are not fictional. These kids are playing out what happens to be their own lives living as a PPR kid. They share their story of happiness and sadness, the hard life of their parents to make ends meet, the difficulties they face at school and much more. This musical theatre is organized by myHarapan and Revolution Stage. Through this project, the PPR kids undergo basic theatre workshops. The workshop is divided into 3 stages, and this musical performance is the 3rd stage. I cannot emphasise enough that this effort my myHarapan and Revolution Stage really bring out the best in these kids. I had a chance to talk to some of the kids and the organizers after the show. One of them pointed out how they can see with their own eyes the change in these kids as they go through the workshop. At first they weren't very involved, didn't talk much and were very shy onstage. Now, the audience can see first hand how confident these kids are on stage. With them being so young, there is no doubt that this kind of confidence will take them far in life. The kids told how life has changed for them ever since joining this project. Previously spending time loitering around with friends, smoking and 'rempit'ing around, they now have a productive outlet for their energy and creativity.

It is hard not to believe in the theme "hanya perlu percaya" after the show ended, because you can see in front of you that these kids made it here to become so good in acting because they just believed. I admit I haven't seen that much theatrical plays in my life, but I can tell you that it was an awe-inspiring experience and I would not hesitate to recommend it to all of you loooking for a good way to spend your day. 

The show is still happening until this weekend, 21st December 2014. Details is as in the poster below. Do come, and remember that the ticket sales will also go to this project's funds to enable them to do bigger projects and involve more PPR kids. With your help, more and more of these kids will become 'Superheroes' and lead them to better lives ahead 

1 comment:

Nurizzati Ko said...

Good job myHarapan ,dr Lutfi n friends..hopefully these unlucky group of children will flourish in their own ways if we give them hopes n teach them to believe in themselves.i also hope there are more young people like DrLutfi in our society..who re always willing to give in whatever ways..keep it up doc

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