To Be Completed: The Unfinished Business of Krishen Jit
(a pre-conference event)

29 Nov 2014 (Saturday)
2pm-5pm
Five Arts Centre

This pre-conference event introduces the work of the late Krishen Jit (1939-2005), who was a pioneering theatre director, critic and educator in Malaysia.  It discusses the significance of his contribution as an artist and public intellectual, who examined what it meant to be Malaysian, modern and multicultural from the 1960s till his passing in 2005.  This includes a talk on Jit’s theatre and his politics of culture, followed by a panel discussion on some key productions he directed during his career.  The event aims to bring together varied views of Jit’s approaches to theatre and suggest ways of thinking about how theatre today could draw from some critical ideas and strategies he explored and developed.  This will initiate a critical discussion of Jit’s oeuvre and importance, locally and within the region, in preparation for a conference from 9-11 January 2015 that looks at the ongoing impact of Jit’s theatre philosophy, working frames and collaborative process.

The event begins with a talk by Charlene Rajendran, a theatre educator, practitioner and writer from Malaysia who currently teaches theatre at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.  Rajendran has researched and written about Jit’s directorial approaches to staging difference in urban Malaysia, and continues to examine the significance of Jit’s work in contemporary Southeast Asian theatre.  Her talk will introduce and discuss some of these ideas, and be followed by critical responses from the audience and moderator, Janet Pillai.

The second half begins with an introduction to Krishen’s actual works.  In collaboration with National University of Singapore’s Theatre Performance Asia archive, short excerpts from Krishen’s important and innovative projects – The Cord (1994), Family (1998), A Chance Encounter (1999), 7 TEN (2003) and Monkey Business (2005) – will be shown, followed by a panel discussion responding to these works.  The panel members are from various backgrounds, yet share one thing in common: a deep and rich experience of interacting with Krishen – these include journalist/actor/trainer Fatimah Abu Bakar, cultural commentator Kathy Rowland, educator Margaret Martinez and performance director Mark Teh.  The panel will be moderated by Ken Takiguchi of National University of Singapore.

Through the discussions on the significance of his methods and approaches, the audience is prodded to further participate in Unfinished Business: A Conference on Krishen Jit’s Performance and Contemporary Malaysian Theatre – for details see http://www.fiveartscentre.org/conference.