Colourful costumes, mesmerising traditional dances and powerful poetic storytelling filled the Digadong Hall at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports recently.
Some 300 people were treated to a spectacular evening of performance by more than 30 local youth, blending history and mythology at the cultural showcase of Brunei’s Legendary Cultural Folktale of ‘Lumut Lunting’.
In every scene and stanza, the performers poured their hearts and souls on stage and into the characters they portrayed during the cultural showcase.
The 45-minute stage performance is based on the cultural folktale of Lumut Lunting which centres around the fight between Mutiara, a rooster belonging to Awang Sinuai, and Asmara, the opponent owned by Radin Angsuka Dewa from the Majapahit empire.
Traditional dancing and silat performance enlivens the stage with their fancy footwork and hand movements, which is said to symbolically represent the fight scene between the roosters.
The inaugural show was performed through the art of poetry storytelling, where the vivid mythical narratives were sung in the melodic syair, evoking a sense of patriotism.
Hanny Yussof, who recited the story from start to finish, sent chills throughout the audience with her powerful euphonic voice and depth in her recitation.
She shared that some of the lessons she learned came from her experience performing on stage since her Bintang Kecil days in 2005.
“This is my first time being a Syair reciter,” she said, adding that role demanded a new level of commitment and expression that Hanny considers a milestone of her experiences on stage.
One of the challenges Hanny faced was when she had to adjust the pacing of her recitation to match the actions on stage, especially during the Silat performance.
“Syair melodies are generally slow, however, during the Silat performance, I had to increase my pace to match the climactic atmosphere of the Silat. This was to symbolise the cockfight,” she said.
Melodies and rhythm, she added, can strengthen the meaning and atmosphere of the Syair.
“The most famous melody used in Brunei is the ‘Tambang Begawan’ melody. This is the one that I used in Lumut Lunting as I am most familiar with it,” she further added.
The goal, she shared is to perform in a way that helps the audiences understand and feel the poetry itself, she added
On his part, director Md Syafiq Syazmeruddin Muqhriz Shah, said the poetry drama was to promote cultural literacy, that is, to enhance cultural knowledge and acceptance of commonalities and differences that exist among various cultures and nationalities.
For seven months, the performers went through the rigorous process of rehearsing and researching.
“From books to the internet to ask people about history. It took us almost 2 months researching the history of Lumut Lunting,” he shared.
“The themes we explored were mostly about the old times, where we learned how they walk, the gestures, and their actions,” he added.
He believes shows like these help to preserve the cultural literacy and the vibrant history of Brunei, and expose them to the younger generation.
The drama production was organised by Brunei Reading and Language Acquisition Project (ReLA) and the High Commission of Bangladesh to Brunei Darussalam in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
The President of ReLA, Dr Malai Zeiti Sheikh Abdul Hamid, in a speech, said the stage performance was aimed at providing a platform for young talented Bruneian actors to enhance their performance with emphasis on quality, impact and element of patriotism.
On her part, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Brunei Darussalam Nahida Rahman Shumona,highlighted the commonalities between Brunei and Bangladesh,
“The poetry drama depicted the strength and agility of the Bruneian people and the beginning of how they were able to create their own free land. We also fought to free ourselves from foreign empires and rulers over the centuries from one to another until 1971,” she said.
The theatrical performance was attended by the guest of honour, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports YB Major General Bersara Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin
Also in attendance were diplomats from various embassies, members of the Legislative Council, government officials and guests from educational institutions and arts organisations.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN