The Finale

Posted on December 12, 2013



This is it… something we keep saying and hearing but a statement that seems surreal and hard to comprehend.

We spent our final week in KL cleaning and tweaking the work and ironing out any last issues. Preparing for the performance also meant a few trips to the hardware store and shopping mall, (not unlike our production week process in Australia), to find last minute costume and design elements. As it is the last week of this leg of our adventure, emotional visits with family and teary goodbyes to new friends played a large role too. In typical fashion we couldn’t get through the week without a few hiccups. We had a few troublesome nights, one of which ended with a trip to the local hospital, with Gabe suffering from some severe stomach pains. We were assured that it was not too serious and that a series of disgusting tasting syrups and pills would be the answer. You will all be pleased to know that the pain has improved and… ‘the show must go on.’

On Saturday night we said our goodbyes to Tok Munah, Gabe’s Grandmother, which was a lovely lunch that stretched to dinner. She is such a pleasure to spend time with, sharp as a tack and not without her wisdom and advice for the future. Some favourite catchphrases:

“I feel so lucky that I have seen you, because if it was any later I might not see you at all” (she has very bad eyesight)

“Have you enjoyed your time here? My how time flies, it feels like yesterday I was meeting you for the first time, time flies.”

“How do you like our food?”

“Don’t forget me”

“Have children, at least four”

On Sunday night we had dinner with Hijjas at the main house. He invited all the artists and two guests from Melbourne University. It was a lovely evening of fine wine and food, saying goodbye to the people of Rimbun Dahan and meeting new people at the same time. 

On Monday night we had Bilqis and Stephanie over for dinner. Taking advantage of some newly learnt skills and recipes from our Melaka cooking class, we made Udang Lemak Nanas (prawn and pineapple curry) and Apam Balik (Malaysian folded pancakes) in the Kampong house. Feeling very much like locals now, cooking traditional Malaysian cuisine in a traditional Malaysian house. We were pretty happy with the turn out, Bilqis and Stephanie seemed highly impressed.

On Tuesday night we had a family farewell dinner with some of the Taff family. We made a little stop at Aunty and Uncle’s house to have some pre-dinner Makan and to see the wedding favours for the upcoming wedding in December. Songket is a type of Indonesian and Malaysian hand woven silk, using a metallic, silver or gold thread to detail the weave. In this case the songket is being used for the men’s suits and favour boxes. The boxes are also traditional, and will be filled with Bangar Telour, meaning flowered egg. Literally eggs will be hard boiled and given to the guests. They are symbolic of fertility. Aunty mentioned that she would also include some chocolate in the boxes.

On Wednesday – AKA show day:


What a massive day. We got to FAB in PJ Seksyen 14 at 10am and started hauling all our stuff up to the fifth floor. Thank you elevator!  Bilqis, Stephanie and her brother, Ho Chin Chee were all on board to set up. We had a bit of a slow start, we needed to rig the rope and work out the new dimensions of the space, check out the lighting with Mr Foo (house technician) and make room for Aluba and all his instruments in the space. It turned out that we needed a few extra lighting cords to set up the lights we wanted. This involved another trip to the hardware and some rewiring of lights, plugs and powerboards on the theatre floor. Electrician? Nah! After getting Aluba set up, (and getting all his instruments up to the fifth floor) we plotted and got ready for the dress rehearsal/photoshoot. James Quah, Wee Ling and Leo Yuen had come in early to photograph the run. We finished with just enough time to run some corrections, get a bite to eat and prepare for the show.Image

Have we mentioned yet how nervous we were feeling? As if performing our very first self-devised and performed full-length work wasn’t enough pressure, it was our first time performing like this in front of our newly found and highly respected dance community, family and friends. We had invited people from Aswara, Hands Percussion, the artists at Rimbun Dahan, people we met in Melaka, and nearly all the people we had met through Bilqis, (and many others we hadn’t met), during our residency. Filled with that fantastic collision of nervous excitement, anticipation, joy, sadness and every other emotion that fellow performers know intimately, we prepared for our ‘beginners’ call.

Bilqis came down to our change room/warm up space to let us know that we had a full house, plus some. However, the show was going to go up a little late, 30minutes late in fact. Some of the audience had some trouble making it on time. So let us take this opportunity to apologise to all who managed to get there on time!

Aside from the tardiness, the show was a great success in our minds. There was a lot of adrenaline, excitement and nerves but we felt that we connected throughout with each other, the music and the audience. The rope worked better than it usually does, i.e. tangling. It looked magnificent in the blackness of the stage, under the theatre lights. After the show we had a Q and A session, which was actually tremendously helpful. Often we have found that these sessions can pass by without much useful feedback filtering to the artists. We, however, got some really generous, honest and insightful responses. 


The aftermath was a little overwhelming. We needed to bump out as fast as possible due to the theatre’s requirements but everyone wanted to hang around and chat. We were delighted that so many people wanted to share their experience of the piece and their congratulations. We spoke with people we hadn’t seen for several years from Australia, we discussed future possibilities for work in Malaysia, we heard about how people had reflected on their own community and society after watching the piece and their ideas for it’s progression. All this, while our team was busy handing around the most amazing cupcakes (thanks to Paige Fong and Susan Chee), cheese platters, wine and a little whisky. We packed and cleaned up as briskly as we could and after saying our final goodbyes to Aluba, Stephanie and many other incredible people we have met along the way, we headed to yet another farewell meal with the Taff family.

After the show (our last night), the family took us to another eatery we had never been to, and of course it didn’t disappoint. However, this meal was bitter sweet. We were reminded of the beautiful people we have now brought into our lives and who have made this residency more full and rewarding than we could have ever expected, knowing that it would be some time before we would get to see them again. It was a very teary farewell. 

On Thursday we spent the entire day packing and cleaning aside from one last roti canai with Bilqis, another teary ‘see you soon’. It was vary hard to say goodbye to the place we had so easily called home for the past three months. We can hardly believe it has been that long, as Tok Munah says “My how time flies.” Aunty and Uncle took us to the airport and we both promised we would see each other as soon as possible. Due to the traffic we just made the flight on time, sitting back in our chairs we waved goodbye to the lights of KL; Gembira Berjumpa Anda.

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