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5 things you don’t know about… Liver and Lung Productions

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Spoiler alert – One thing we don’t learn about this company is how they chose their awesome name. However, Director and co-founder Shafeeq Shajahan does share a few inside details about Liver and Lung Productions…

1. Rooted in two countries

While studying in the UK, Malaysian Shafeeq Shajahan did what all budding economists do: “I started directing theatre. I did five or six shows and started collaborating with a lot of artists.” He came back to KL for his degree-related job, bringing his arts vision with him. “With Malaysian and English roots, Liver and Lung Productions is a theatrical company that champions a global aesthetic, combining world ideas and concepts to develop fringe musicals, plays and events internationally.” He describes their work as “stylistic and didactic” explaining that the aim is to “immerse audiences in experiences that champion the unheard, instil faith in human empathy and promote liberal beliefs.” The young company has been devising original plays and musicals – and performing in London, Edinburgh and KL since  2014 “and we love it!”.

Badrish Bahadur, protagonist of Mahsuri's second run.

Badrish Bahadur, protagonist of Mahsuri’s second run.

2.  Heavy exposure to western theatre shone a light on the rich but shadowed “fabric of Asian arts and culture.”

The upcoming (and returning) run of Mahsuri is one of the ways in which Liver and Lung Productions introduce local stories to theatre audiences used to Western theatre. In Mahsuri, the autistic protagonist sits among the audience. He frets at his surroundings and he is given a book of Malaysian fables to calm him. In this way, the audience is immersed along with him into worlds of  Pontianak, Bawang Merah Bawang Putih, Mahsuri and Puteri Lindungan Bulan.

“Original musical theatre is very rarely performed in Malaysia. With these tales retold, Malaysians will be pleased to see stories they’ve grown up with showcased in a heartwarming, funny and unique way.”

3.  Yes, we have thought this through

Yes, there is a reason Mahsuri (And Other Peculiar Tales) is set in a cafe. “Bringing a musical into an intimate setting provides the best kind of theatrical experience. As you enter the beautiful Meteora Café, you’ll begin a wonderful, immersive experience as the café comes to live. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind journey that you rarely get to witness unravel in the Malaysian theatre scene.”

Shafeeq also admits that the cafe makes audiences come in with low-ish expectations, meaning that the end result, in which “a legend erupts from a familiar everyday setting, quite overwhelming.”

4.   Our cast is super talented (and our director is incredibly good looking)!

Shafeeq Shajahan, Liver and Lung Production's incredibly good-looking director.

Shafeeq Shajahan, Liver and Lung Production’s incredibly good-looking director.

“Mahsuri (And Other Peculiar Tales) promises a multi-talented cast (okay, they are extremely good-looking too) that includes Badrika Bahadur, Badrish Bahadur, Iz Sulaini, Phraveen Arikiah and Nabilah Hamid. “They will take on multiple roles, playing completely different characters in four complete different settings. If you’re planning to watch Mahsuri, expect complex versatility and undeniable fervour from this lot.”

5.  We also apply the idea of Western-Eastern fusion to also applies to their music

“Mahsuri is heavily inspired by Indian and Malay scales and chord progressions. Mahsuri’s blend of sounds and dramatic techniques makes it incredibly unique. It tries not to be constrained by historical accuracies or cultural observances. Instead, it reinvents the legends, bends them to support new liberal ideology and creates new relatable characters for audiences to look up to. As a company, we’ve tried really hard to fuse the modernist values and beliefs we’ve experienced in London with our Asian cultural and musical heritage. It’s a tricky balance to maintain but we’ve been successful so far!”

To learn more, visit: www.liverandlung.com

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Amy De Kanter
Amy De Kanter

Former Chief Editor, frequent contributor and enthusiastic audience member, Amy is thrilled to have a job that lets her do three of the things she loves most.