Monday, February 21, 2011

“Neighbours” Gets a Play Treatment

On 19 February, students from SMK (p) Sri Aman Petaling Jeya, some of whom I met (along with their teacher Christina Chan), at the Popular BookFest@Malaysia 2010 put on a play titled SHORTS (short for Short Stories), an adaptation of three stories from SPM literature, Roald Dahl's “Landlady”,  Anya Sitaram’s “Naukar” and  “Neighbours” from my collection of short stories Lovers and Strangers Revisited.

The number of neighbours gossiping was cut down to shorten the story and to make it more manageable. In their adaptation, they portrayed Mrs Koh as someone who is critical of everyone and everything except herself, someone who is self-centred.  Ruth Yee, who wonderfully portrayed Mrs. Koh (holding fan), used to live in Penang, where “Neighbours” is set, prior to moving to PJ.

The cast for Neighbours:                                       
  • Ruth Yee as Mrs Koh
  • Mandy Chan as Mr Koh
  • Izzaty Wahab as Dr Nathan
  • Helinna Abd Rahim as Ms Chee
  • Nurul Shuhadah as Ramly
Although I was unable to attend, Christina Chan kept me abreast via Facebook, which was how we first met last September when one of her students contacted me over some questions regarding “Neighbours” that they were studying and we ended up meeting a few days later in KL.  According to Christina, "Mrs Koh was well-loved during our matinee show!”   Then the following day, after the evening performance she added, “For the record, Mrs. Koh is now one hot chick! Everyone loved her—the actress and the character.  We took some liberty at interpreting what she is like and how she would react to situations.  A success indeed.”

I was relieved to hear that it was a success.  Mrs. Koh’s reputation (i.e, Are You Mrs. Koh?)was riding on it.  This is not the first time that students have turned Mrs. Koh’s character into a play.  Students from another school in the KL area, also studying “Neighbours” took my ten minute play “Back From Heaven” and entered their performance into a school competition a couple of years back and did quite well.  I had adapted “Back From Heaven” from my play “One Drink Too Many” adapted from “Neighbours” whereby I turned a tragedy into a comedy.

"One Drink Too Many" has been play read twice by Penang Players and had some interest in both Penang and Kuching.  Maybe someday it will finally get produced, or maybe even the short story, "The Merdeka Miracle" that I wrote with Lydia Teh and Tunku Halim for Malaysia Airlines.  The story has a nice “1Malaysia” theme plus a Merdeka tie-in.  It would also make a good story for SPM Literature.  Unfortunately, there is no Mrs. Koh character in that story! But Mrs. Koh will soon be speaking French!

Congrats to the cast and crew of SHORTS!  It was an honor for me to have my short story "Neighbours" adapted.  Well done!  And good luck on your SPM exams!  And when you graduate and make your mark on the world, please don't become a Mrs. Koh!

Speaking of exams, here's a rather involved e-course assignment for "Neighbours".  Not for the fainthearted! 

*Ohio University is adapting another story from Lovers and Strangers Revisited, "Home for Hari Raya" into screenplay and film!

*Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:

Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.

Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.

Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day

Chuah Guat Eng,  author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change. 


Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I


Chris said...

Hey Mr Raymer,
Our Mrs Koh was acted out by Ruth Yee, one of those you met in Sept. She is the one who is on the left upper corner of that picture. She did a wonderful job as Mrs Koh.


Kee Man said...

Brilliant! I love "Neighbours" and yes it deserves to be staged as a play!

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Chris, Thanks. I just updated the blog, adding the cast and a few photos. Later I'll add a link to the best of photos from SHORTS.

Thanks, Kee Man! Hey, how about a Unimas production! No pressure, just a thought! Talk to Sam. Hey, you never know....Being so close by, I can't miss it either.