Up Close and Personal: Why I Do Theatre

First of all, on this very day, I would like to congratulate my sister, Irma Suriani, for graduating with a master's degree in Science Education, and my other sister/soon-to-be cousin, Shikin Hasni, for graduating with a master's degree in Counselling.

I would also like to happily announce that I have gained a Book Prize for my 2nd year in university! Alhamdulillah. Just to share with you a little about what it is: it is an award given to Top 1 student in their respective major/degree for each year. Also recently my name was nominated in the Vice Chancellor's List! This one is given to top students in the entire university. I can't be anymore happier than this, Alhamdulillah!!! Would also like to congratulate my fellow friends, Caroline (Medicine) and Wiah Ruslan (English Literature) for snatching the Book Prize awards in their major/degree as well!


Anyway, for the real content of this post.

As part of my theatre exercise today, we had the chance to share with the circle of actors (and lecturer Dr. Maiya Murphy) our most private moment on stage. This particular exercise yet touched me so deeply because it is the one exercise I could relate to the most (yet). I had the courage to allow them to enter my most private moment and witness me at my most vulnerable state - that really took a great deal of nerve. 

There I was, lying in a fetal position, like a baby in the womb, and during that state, I realised that I felt good. I felt peaceful. Weird, indeed.

Somehow after that session, it truly made me reflect on the question why I do theatre and finally, after a very long time, I felt that I have a definite answer. I had been trying to discover that one main reason, other than it simply being a hobby – especially on appreciating the art and science of performing.

It is theatre that provides me with a sense of catharsis. It is theatre that provides me with a form of therapy. It is theatre that makes me feel better as a person.

To allow you to understand it better, let me share with you a simplified story. Over the past few years, I have been attacked with several catastrophes: failures, deaths, mockeries, self-doubtfulness - all the things I mourn over. All the things I have wished I did not have to experience. All the things I despise from happening in my life. These, in most cases, led to indecision, and that indecisiveness always led to me making mistakes that once done, it could not be undone. Knowing who I am, whether it resulted from nature and/or nurture, I bottled these negativity inside me - my head, more than the rest. I admit, it is never a good habit - in fact, it is toxic to the mind and the body. I always ended up feeling weak, and to remove this weakness, I find my temporary relief in letting it all out exclusively when I am in my most private, most vulnerable state - being alone, consisting of talking to self and eventually, crying into my troubled sleep. No hopes other than hoping for a better day after. In can be said that at the end of the day, the bottling of those negativity is a mirror image of blaming it to no other people but myself.

So after today's session, I finally had the answer as to why I do theatre. It allows me to feel better because it is in theatre that I am at my most vulnerable and with that vulnerability in hand; I use theatre as a place to let it all out without hurting myself emotionally.

Although it is temporary, just like talking and crying, I still feel like it creates a longer lasting effect - it somehow still leaves a mark. And then I ask myself “Well, you did the same thing: you talked to yourself and (nearly) cried. What’s the difference?” The difference is simply the fact that I was acknowledged. That was the one factor that's missing in crying and talking to myself alone: allowing people - be it the audience or fellow actors - to see what I do, hear what I say, and ultimately, acknowledge my existence. It does not matter what role I play, what character I portray, what emotion I evoke. At that moment of being on stage, acting my part, I feel relief rushing through my veins like rapid water going down a rocky stream. Think about it: is it not wonderful to allow tens or hundreds even thousands of spectators see YOU and actually spare their time, even for a mere second, looking at you? You. Are. Noticed. 

Today I finally realised I was noticed.

When performing on stage, it is, in fact, a moment to remember and it is that moment you want to do your best, to give your all, to summon whatever it is that has been bottled up inside and eventually release it all through your actions and words. Like exhaling a big heavy sigh after a deep deep inhalation, and it leaves nothing but clean crisp air in your lungs.

I cannot thank Dr. Maiya Murphy enough for this session. Today, I found my answer. Theatre, ultimately, brings relief and I am forever thankful for it.

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  1. You are always noticed, Akhmal. With you and your achievement, people look up to you. I'm happy that you've found your answer and peace. Great post :)

  2. Anonymous; Thank you so much for your post, it's uplifting :) Have a good weekend!