Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fallen Leaves

Fallen Leaves
"A devised performance exploring the dreams, challenges and hopes of people living wit HIV & AIDS"

Kudos to Cloudbreak Creative Developement Centre and the HSBC Bank Berhad for organising the premier of The Fallen Leaves at The Actors Studio, Bangsar on 17th November 2007. This beautiful dreamlike play consists of 4 main actors telling stories of AIDS in a mono act of interlacing actors which are AIDs patients themselves, making the background that setting up the mode of each stories told in a very effective way.

I was not prepared nor being told that I was supposed to watch the Fallen Leaves until the fateful night itself, on Saturday. I was speechless when reaching up The Actors Studio, Bangsar Shopping Complex. I learned on that night that the show was sponsored by the HSBC Bank where all the proceeds will go to The Welcome Community Home AIDS patients in Rawang.

The first act was about a man who is unsettled by his own demon. He told stories about his past while working with the leprosy patients in Hospital Sungai Buluh. Then, he was gentle, friendly and happy go lucky type of person. He was likable to all the leprosy patients because he treated them with respect and kind in regardless of their deformed physical caused by the disease.

However, later he was not the same person. He became mean, cruel and rude towards his care. He forgot his humanity because of the pressure he had while working in the AIDS ward. The pressure came from his family, friends and society for their prejudices and skepticism of the disease. It shows the ignorance and misconceptions of our society.

The second act was about a young man telling his story of a broken family. The influence of friends and unhealthy lifestyle were the main message here that lead people to drugs. The young man was infected by HIV infection through drugs abuse of using a syringe. The story told beautifully with an act of young members of Cloudbreak Creative Learning Centre and nice background music that touches your soul.

Third act was about a man who sat alone in a park lamenting about his predicament. Then came his friend trying to cheer him up asking of what is troubling his mind. He was hesitant but later by much persuasion, he told the story of his sadness.

It seemed that one of his uncle just recently past away. Before the uncle died, he once visited him in the hospital. Since he is known to love wearing branded items, the uncle decided to leave him all his branded shirts as they are almost the same size. It was a bag full of expensive shirts.

However he was sceptical to wear the shirt because his uncle is dying of AIDS. He didn't know what to do with it, so he burnt them! On the second visit, the uncle asked if he likes the shirt. Not used to lying, he told the truth, that he burnt it all. The uncle was so shocked, he was speechless. He later told him that it a foolish action coming from an educated person like him. He should know better on how AIDS could spread. The uncle does not want to see him again afterwards until the day he died. The guy is regretting his action in the park.

Now the fourth act. It was very interesting. About an AIDS patient in a hospital, sitting on his bed doing a meditation. He has a very peaceful and happy expression on his face and tone of voice. He started by praising the beautiful day and of his meditation. Later he brilliantly shared stories about other AIDS patients residing there with him . One guy had a sore on his back resulting from the hospital staffs who did not care enough to move the man's body from time to time. One guy had slashes on both his hands resulting from weeks of being tied on the bed and no one cared to untie him.

He told his stories from the point of views of an AIDS patient. His routine of meditating, his perception of life in the future, now and then, and finally about dying. Days come and go. He told the audience exactly like speaking to each and everyone of us personally, that all of them living in acceptance of their fate. Their body can not sustain them, so they become weak and sickly because death is approaching. It was so touching. I can't hide my tears anymore. Hu hu .... isshk, isshk. It's the perfect climax.

Then it was over. What a fantastic act. You can't even tell that all of the actors are not a professional actors. It's like they've done it everyday and for years. In fact they are better than any play that I've ever watched in my life. With minimal props, good music and a background projector they nailed my concentration and delivered their message effectively to the audience. It reaches our humanity. To me, my soul is touched. I pledge myself to do some kind of a proactive thing in relation to HIV/AIDS.

I thanked each one of the actors on the stage. Well, can't help it when someone moved you to tear. I must touch their hands to congratulate and appreciate their excellent act. They inspired me in many ways.

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