No stranger to creative challenges on stage, Christopher Ling is doing it again.
This time around, he is directing the six hour production of Angels In America, to be staged at the Black Box, Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) from November 28 to December 13.
Written by celebrated playwright Tony Kushner, Angels In America is a two part production that revolves around everyday people trying to love, be loved and coming to terms with dilemmas, change and death. Set amidst the backdrop of American politics, the 1980s and the advent of the AIDS crisis, the play tackles the emotional elements of being human and relationships.
“It’s like directing one and a half plays. The demands are different from other plays. It’s a hill to climb, but I wanted to do it because it is precisely a challenge,” said the director, known as Chris.
“These are very lovable, fallible characters. They love making mistakes, left right and centre. In Part 1 we see the problems starting and in Part 2, we get to go through all the problems before it gets resolved,” said Chris, who has been dreaming of directing the play since he first saw it on stage in London, in 1994.The epic play st in 1985 revolves around Ray Cohn, an infamous lawyer with political power, who absolutely, categorically does not have AIDS. His protégé, Joe a Mormon court clerk doesn’t have to deal with his wife’s Harper’s valium induced allucinations. Elsewhere, an ailing Prior Walter is abandoned by his partner, only to receive visitations from someone completely unexpected and unwelcome – Belize.
The director of other productions such as At Home At The Zoo, Postcards from Rosa and Marrying Me finally had the opportunity to introduce Malaysians to the Pulitzer and Tony award winning play in 2014 – and got many minds reflecting on what it was to be human.
With the freedom given him to him by his partners from theatrethreesixty, Chris creatively executed the first part of Angels In America: Millennium Approaches, working together with an all Malaysian cast. Last year’s talented returning cast members include Alexis Wong, Belinda Hon, Dominic Lucien Luk, Nicole-Ann Thomas, Qahar Aqilah and Sandra Sodhy. This year’s new cast members are Ivan Chan, Lim Kien Lee and Michael Chen and it’s going to be interesting to see the different perspectives the new cast members will bring into Part 2: Perestroika. Whether returning or new cast members, all of them have done extensive research to bring life to their characters.
“I’ve known Ivan for a long time, from church days and he’s grown as an actor. He’s always open, respectful and not a carbon copy of any other actor. His version of Berlize is different from Azzad Mahdzir’s last year,” added Chris.
Embodying the essence of the Marlboro man, Michael Chen plays the part of Joe Pitt and Chris believes that this will change the role that is Joe. Michael is a strong actor, very jantan and this has created a change in the character and scenes with Belinda (who plays Harper).
“I remember cringing at these scenes in London, of the intensity of the violence. He could overstep this at any moment, but he doesn’t. With Michael as Joe, we have the chance to explore darker and more disturbing scenes,” revealed Chris.
Those who saw theatrethreesixty’s Angels in America last year would probably remember Jon Chew’s character Louis Ironson. In Part Two, he is played by Lim Kien Lee, who gives out a more mature, older soul prescence.
“Now more so than ever, when he sprouts about race and religion and hides behind his knowledge of things, the audience believes it more,” said the Boh Cameronian Arts Award-winner director.
While both parts can be experienced on its own, theatre enthusiasts are encouraged to see both to have the ultimate experience of Tony Kushner’s work. Using the script from the 20th anniversary edition, Chris and his cast are all set to tell a tale of love, death, identity and ethics through a simple deconstructed set featuring multiple locations on stage.
Experience Angels In America Part One and Two at Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) from November 28 – 29, December 5– 6, 12–13. Tickets are priced at RM65 (Part 1 OR Part 2) and RM120 (Part 1 AND Part 2). Concessions are available for Students and Senior Citizens (RM55/RM110). To purchase tickets, call 03-4065 0001 or visit www.dpac.com.my.
November 28 Part 1:2pm, Part 2: 8.30pm
November 29 Part 1: 2pm, Part 2: 8.30pm
December 3 Part 1: 8.30pm, December 4 Part 2: 8.30pm
December 5 Part 1: 2pm Part 2: 8.30pm
December 6 Part 1:2pm Part 2: 8.30pm
December 10 Part 1: 8.30pm, December 11 Part 2: 8.30pm
December 12 Part 1: 2pm, Part 2: 8.30pm
December 13 Part 1: 2pm, Part 2: 8.30pm