KLPac - a theatre for the community

OUR DREAM HOME: (From left) Faridah, Joe and Chew with the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre behind them.

Kuala Lumpur, 19 May 2005

A feeling of openness and warmth greeted me as I entered the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac). On my left was an open workshop where visitors could see a stage set being put together in front of their very eyes through a clear glass window. And on my right was the friendly cafe with bright orange tables and chairs with a media centre located behind it.

Located in Sentul Park at Sentul West, among the lush green trees and with a?stream flowing beside it, the 70,000 sq. ft. KLPac stands out with a grandeur of old charm and modern style.

Designers have maintained some of the rustic features of the former KTM railway workshop and blended it with new-aged designs.

What you see on the actual fa?ade of the whole building today is what it actually was. We have not repainted it, we have not touched it and we have not even removed the mould. We have stayed true to what it was,” said chief architect Baldip Singh. “If you look at the building, it looks like a new structure, with today’s materials, riding on a building that was there yesterday.”

Fully covered with glass panels and steel structures, the new see-through fa?ade is aimed at bridging the traditional divide between artiste and audience.

After all, the main concept of the KLPac is that it is a centre for the people, so it has to be inviting and user-friendly,” said KLPac general manager, Margaret Chew during a media briefing at the Pentas 1 of the centre.

She added that it is very much a community-oriented centre, not just for the people of Kuala Lumpur, but also the people of Malaysia.

What you see now is the result of two years' work,” said KLPac artistic director, Joe Hasham emotionally. “But, I must say that we would be very remised of all this today if we do not give where the credit is due. Credit must go to Tan Sri Francis Yeoh and the YTL Corporation because they have, out of the goodness of their hearts, willed this to us. They have built it, they have paid for it and they have ensured that we got everything that we asked for.”

Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood, wife of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and chairperson of Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia, played a pivotal role?of bringing all parties together, thus helping to make the dream of having a theatre that caters to the Malaysian community come true.

Emphasising on what Chew had said earlier, Joe explained that the whole complex has been specifically designed, and its functionality, including every single aspect of the centre, has been designed to nurture the whole idea of the community of being involved in theatre.

We will have massive productions, but we will also have wonderful performances from young theatre company, whether Malay, Chinese or Indian. There is no language barrier in the KLPac; absolutely no language barrier,” said Joe excitedly, adding that their first public?performance will be a musical entitled Siddharta on 25 May.

OH JOY!: The 500-seater Pentas 1 theatre has a cheerful setting with colourful seats to welcome the audience. [Club Shashin Photography]

Designed also to meet the needs of an ever more demanding and diverse performing arts scene, theatres in KLPac have been designed for flexibility and practicality.

The two theatres in KLPac - Pentas 1, a 500-seater proscenium theatre and Pentas 2, a 200-seater experimental theatre - have been designed as highly adaptable performances spaces. Facilities such as flexible and movable rigging systems are in place so that companies may use all theatre areas as performance spaces.

The conventional way of how a theatre is designed is that it has many fixed bars, in fixed positions across the stage. What we have done here, in Pentas 1, is to design it in such a way that there is no fixed bars but all flexible and movable pawns, so that you can configure the layout according to how you want to design the stage,” explained KLPac technical director, Mac Chan, whose inspiration of the design came from Japan.

So, instead of you having to re-layout your set up to be inline with the existing set up, we designed it the other way round, and made it practical for you so that we make it inline with your design. We made the theatre work for the production, not the production work for the theatre.”

Indicine, a 100-seater studio for independent films, has been created to support local independent filmmakers, but the studio can also be used as a seminar room to host events such as product launches and talks.

There are also nine studios which have also been built for The Academy at KLPac for rehearsals and training.

The Academy, which we formerly had in Plaza Putra is now changed to 'The Academy at KLPac'. Our name may have changed but our purpose is still the same and that is nurturing students from 3 year-olds to over 65 year-olds. This has always been our forte and our love,” said the bubbly KLPac executive producer, Faridah Merican.

Other facilities at the centre include a Green Room - a living room for performers to relax and have cup of tea in between performances; a Technical Training Studio to provide training in lighting, sound, set and costume design; a Wardrobe Room for last minute repairs on costumes; and a Laundry Room for the convenience of the performers.

The media were later taken on a tour of the KLPac, led by theatre manager, Teoh Ming Jin.

The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre is a collaboration between Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia, YTL Corporation and The Actors Studio, whose objective is to continually promote performing arts to Malaysians.

For box office and ticket enquiries, please call 03-4047-9000.

Throbbing with a sense of promise


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