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.