‘Fault Lines’, an upcoming Malaysian theater production scheduled to premiere at the Petaling Jaya Performing Arts Centre (PJPAC) in November, promises to captivate audiences with its exploration of the complexities of family, community, and personal authenticity, ensuring a riveting theatrical experience.
The play marks the debut full-length work by Adriana Nordin Manan, who has revealed that its themes deeply resonate with not only herself but also with ‘Fault Lines’ Director, Ghafir Akbar, both of whom were once part of the Malaysian diaspora in the USA.
Adriana also shared that Fault Lines is an improved version of a draft script that was a semi-finalist in the International Scratchpad Series organised by The Playwrights Realm, an off-Broadway company
dedicated to new play development.
“That draft of the script was a semi-finalist from a pool of around 1,000 submissions from around the world. The version staging in November is a result of extensive workshopping since then. It’s a lot tighter and better paced,” said Adriana.
Fault Lines tells the story of a mother-daughter duo, Habsah Aziz and Shereen Rahman, who reunite in New York City after years of separation. Veteran actress, Fatimah Abu Bakar headlines the role of Habsah while Putrina Rafie plays Shereen.
The full cast comprises 7 members, and include Xavier Reminick, Reza Zainal Abidin, Sabrina Hassan, Aloeng Silalahi and Catherine Leyow.
The central ‘idee fixe’ of the play was aptly described by cast member, Reza Zainal Abidin, who plays the role of Razak ‘Ray’ Aziz, a longtime resident of New York City and younger brother to the main character, Habsah.
“When you’ve been away from the country and family for so long, you have to negotiate so many things. For one, how much of your life in your host country do you share with your family back home? Some things may be difficult to share with family, so many choose to share with friends instead. In the play, characters grapple with who they were before, who they are now and how they will work things out in the present.” said Reza.
For Fatimah, who is also the mother of acclaimed acrtress, Sharifah Amani, Fault Lines is, “…about a family of hurt souls who miss each other and are reaching out to each other. They come with many questions. Where did we go wrong? How can we be better, how can we be stronger? If I did something wrong, how can I make it better?”
Meanwhile, Putrina Rafie, mused that, “Fault Lines deals with the sense of obligation, indeed the weight of responsibility placed on us when interacting with people different than us. These things make us wonder how much of our life are we leading on our own terms as opposed to fulfilling community expectations. The struggle is about how much to expect from our community, and how far we should chart our own path to find ourselves.”
In explaining her choice of New York as the play’s setting, Adriana said, ‘I decided to place Fault Lines abroad because family reunions across oceans carry an inherent sense of urgency, which adds to the dramatic impact. The need for people to express their true desires and expectations becomes more pressing in such situations.’
Adriana had spent time in the USA, as a student, including a year in New York City.
‘Fault Lines’ Director, Ghafir Akbar who has spent significant time in the USA, including New York City, as a student and theatremaker, also shared his personal connection to the play’s themes.
“During my time there, I often took on acting and directing roles that were outside my usual assignments. This is the first time a play I’m directing deeply resonates with my personal life. Fault Lines is a play that falls right into my wheelhouse,” he explained.
Fault Lines, produced by Protagonist Studio with story development by Cocoon Creative Lab, is set to be staged from November 16th to 19th, 2023, at PJPAC.
Following the matinee shows on November 18th and 19th, there will be talkback sessions. The play will be presented in both English and Malay, with English surtitles accompanying all Malay dialogue. Tickets are available starting at RM75 and can be purchased at ONETIX.