Monday, September 5, 2016

Tanjong's English drama tradition of the 60's (Malaysia Day article #5 )

A newspaper cutting from the Borneo Bulletin. The drama "Charley's Aunt"  was staged in the school hall on 25.7.69

"Charley's Aunt" brochure designed
by Mr. Voong Kiat Fui (Art teacher) 
Tanjong Lobang College in Miri had a renowned English drama  tradition way back in the 60's under the caring leadership of its principal Mr. Robert Nicholl and the great enthusiasm of its teachers as well as students both junior and senior ones.  Mr. Nicholl  worked tirelessly to produce an English drama annually for the enjoyment of the students and the Miri community at large.   I am one of those fortunate students whom he picked to take part in many of the dramas that the college produced.  Most of the dramas were adapted by him from well-known plays like 'The Government Inspector', 'Pillars of the Community' and 'Charley's Aunt'.  Drama production involves much rehearsal and the get-together moments involving students of various ethnic groups from all corners of Sarawak who participated in the drama whether as actors, behind-the scene helpers, prompters, stage hands (lighting, sound,) costumes and sets designers enabled pleasant and harmonious  inter-racial relations among the students.  The play "The Pillars of the Community" which was staged on the 6th of September,1968  had a long  line-up of players from various ethnic groups:-
1) Pastor Roland - Leo Jock Hee
2) Mrs. Ramsey- Miss Yong Suk Kim
3) Mrs Lynn - Miss Marlene Yong
4) Mrs Betty Benson - Miss Chung Chu Ting
5) Dina Doran - Miss Rosalind Leong
6) Aylmer Tennyson - Ali Asghar
7) Alf Benson - Mahmud Yussop
8) Charles Benson - Peli Aron
9) Capes - Osman Borhan
10) Ellen Harris - Miss Gilian Akam
11) Owen - Han Hj, Hipni
12) Jack Tennyson - Leo Toyad

 In the play "Charley's Aunt" which was staged on 25.7.69, the list of players, in order of appearance, included:-
1)  Jack Chesney - Christopher Tan
2)  Charles Wykeham - Han Hj. Hipni
3)  Brassett - Othman Borhan
4)  Lord Fancourt Babberley - Leo Jock Hee
5)  Miss Amelia Spettigue - Miss Irene Wong 
6)  Miss catherine Verdun - Miss Sigang Ibun
7)  Co. Sir Francis Chesney - Mahmud Yussop
8)  Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez - Miss Lucy Liew
9) Miss Elizabeth Delaway - Miss Liew Siat Kiaw

An 1967 production entitled "The Government Inspector" made me a celebrity overnight despite a brief appearance in the final part of the play when after all the fear of the impending news of the coming of the inspector to town,  the school hall was drowned in laughter upon seeing me, one of the smallest and shortest boy in college dressed as the Government Inspector. The play was a comedy, anyway.

Sarawak has a  current policy where English language is one of the two official languages used by the state administration in its dealings with the public.  It is hoped that schools or colleges throughout Sarawak begin to produce more dramas in English for the enjoyment of the community of English language users and the general public.  We have done it in the 60's why can't the new generation do it now?

Happy Malaysia Day Sarawak!

Me as "The Government Inspector", 1967 production.

Samuel Daring taking the part of "Supini" in the play "The Government Inspector", 1967 production by the Tanjong Lobang Drama Club.
(Picture credit: Samuel Daring)
 Note: This is Article #5 in a series to celebrate Malaysia's national day (Malaysia Day) - 16 Sept  annually)

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