Balik Kampung season will soon start in full force and with that comes the sweet homecoming experience of “Tidur Lambak“.
For many Malaysians, “Tidur Lambak” which can be loosely translated as “gathered sleeping” is an all-too-familiar phenomenon during mass family gatherings.
Festive occasions, such as the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration, are commonly when a “Tidur Lambak” session usually takes place.
Co-creators of the immersive performance, Taha Long and Hafreez Aminuddin attempted to encapsulate the beauty of this communal practice in their presentation of “Tidur Lambak” at KongsiKL.
In a world that is becoming increasingly disconnected, Tidur Lambak offered a unique and heartwarming experience for communities to come together through the power of art and shared experiences.
“Tidur Lambak was conceptualised as a space for people to re-live their nostalgic memories of sleeping next to their cousins and extended family in front of the TV area – during the festive season.
“It’s a place where we can connect with strangers and share our memories and dreams with one another,” said Taha, who co-directed the piece with Hafreez.
The piece consisted of 12 non-actors of varying backgrounds, who enter a room and slowly sleep on their single mattresses next to each other, forming ‘a large nest’. The actors represented the different generations of people who are usually present at “Tidur Lambak” sessions.
They were all found through street casting and included an energetic 8-year-old boy, named Thomas, to an 85 year old grandma, named Norhayati.
“One of them was actually my friend’s neighbor who was gardening outside their house, while I was dropping my friend’s off and I thought he would be great for the piece. One is a friend’s grandma, who migrated to Malaysia from Burma when she was 15 and had stayed here for almost 70 years.
“Our focus in casting was to showcase the different walks of life in Malaysia. People from different ethnic, economic and social backgrounds. We also wanted to highlight the representation of East Malaysians – something that has often been lacking in visibility in mainstream media,” said Hafreez, who is a producer and director from Miri, Sarawak.
During the performance, the recorded sounds of rural Malaysia played in the background, an artistic soundscape by sound artist, Kent Lee. Meanwhile, art director, Dhan Illiani’s fashion and fine arts background provided the ethereal vibe of the scene. With this simple set up, guests in attendance easily became part of the room, as if they too were included in the “Tidur Lambak” session in a kampung.
“During our rehearsals at Kongsi KL, after one of our sleeping poses exercises, I overheared Thomas, the 8-year old participant in the piece, asking his parents if they could all sleep at the set that night. That this young boy felt so safe and secure with the other participants of “Tidur Lambak“, all of whom had only been recently introduced, to the point that he felt comfortable spending the night in a large industrial warehouse with them made me feel like our mission has not been in vain,” said Taha.
In addition to sharing the same space, guests were also given the opportunity to share their dreams and memories with the room. The intention of the piece was ultimately, to explore sleeping communally as a way of breaking down social boundaries and taboos about the ‘self’ and others.
The Tidur Lambak performance is a unique art concept that transformed a precious memory from the Malaysian psyche into a physical experience, that could also be accessible to those who have never had their own communal sleeping experience.
The show, which encouraged attendees to come with an open heart and mind and connect with strangers by sharing dreams and memories, was made possible through the Krishen Jit Fund (KJF).
As you gear up for the upcoming holidays in Malaysia, here’s an ode to Tidur Lambak; that immersive and communal show that united audiences and performers in the experience of a shared dream space.
All Images by Sophia Shukeri and Ridhwan Saidi.