That Was The Year (2007)

a tale of unrequited love

A musical drama based on Beth Yahp's text 'In I969', 'That Was The Year' is a story of a difficult love between a prostitute and a man involved in politics. From this unconventional relationship a child is born out of wedlock.

The story follows the circumstances during the birth of this child. It tells of the difficult conditions experienced by the mother and is set against the racial riots of May 13, 1969.


Pentas 2, The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre
1 – 5 and 8 – 12 May 2007 @ 8:30pm
6 and 13 May 2007 @ 3pm

Creative + Production Team

Director: Chee Sek Thim

Performers: Annette Christie, Elaine Pedley, Judimar Hernandez, Malik Taufiq, Megat Sharizal bin Mohamad Yusoff, Sue-Yenn, Zhien

Sound Composer: Hardesh Singh (featuring music and lyrics by Shanon Shah, from the 'Krishen Jit Experimental Workshop Series' performance of 'In 1969').

Director's Notes

'That Was The Year' is a performance-collage constructed using Beth Yahp's short story, 'In 1969' as its main text. The text, pregnant with allegorical references, offers a rich source of images and meanings from which we developed a performance using narration, movement and song.

The approach to rehearsal that we used, was one that was developed in a prior workshop in 2006 with a separate group of performers. While the actors have changed in this version, we have retained the working structure where actors generate movement from their understanding of the text, each contributing towards creating a body of movement-vocabulary specific to the performance. They then use this vocabulary to choreograph sequences for themselves and for each other over which text and music is layered.

The purpose here is to find a way of working that enables an ensemble of actors with varying levels of skills and body-readiness to generate original choreography on their own and contribute to the construction of the performance according to their abilities.

The story in this performance deals with the May 13 incident, a significant event in the history of Malaysia of which its consequences have contributed in no small way to the construction of a modern Malaysian identity.

The choice to stage a story around this event is an effort to reclaim an aspect of national history that has long been denied a collective knowledge and reflection. In doing so, we attempt to create a space where we can safely think and reflect while taking possession and control of its meanings for ourselves.

Theatre, among its various purposes and functions, offers such spaces. It allows us avenues to work through the nature of our relationships with each other and our environment, playing out conflict, love, anger as we try to find resonance within the larger network of human experience.

This performance has grown out of the trust, beliefs and efforts of many people. For the most part, the expression of gratitude I feel, is best done in less public spaces. There is however, a group of people who should be rightfully acknowledged in this space. They are the participants and cast of 'In 1969' the workshop, whose creative contributions form the backbone of today's performance. F or your cooperation, trust and belief, thank you Mark, Imri, Adrian, Gabrielle, Hari and Ruza. To Shanon Shah, thank you for sharing with us your talents and for so generously allowing us now, the freedom to work with and re-work original musical material you generated during the workshop.

And of course to you, the audience, thank you for being here and supporting yet another effort by all of us in Five Arts Centre. Chee Sek Thim

Producer's Notes

When Sek Thim approached me on helping him produce this musical drama, I was drawn to his idea of presenting strong emotions in musical forms and movement that do not necessarily incite (after choosing text revolving around the racial riots of 1969). It felt particularly relevant also as our nation progressed till its 50th year that the riots are presented in different light, as seen in this production.

I would like to thank the audience, our sponsors, press and media for supporting local theatre and this performance. We hope we have provided a performance that has stimulated and engaged your senses.

Gratitude also to the incomparable Marion, Sek Thim for his art, Hardesh, Mac for his “light bulb phase”, Kung Yu for his “eye”, Adrian, Kimmy, Anne James, Fred Lim, Mark Teh, Mark Choo plus the talented cast of Annette, Elaine, Judimar, Malik, Megat, Yenn and Zhien for their passion. June Tan

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