Powerful, unrelenting, and astute, Displaced Persons’ Welcome Dinner has been the result of almost two years of dynamic and synergistic partnership between playwright, director, cast, and creatives. Playwright Huzir Sulaiman and composer-musical directors .gif (Chew Wei Shan and Nurudin Sadali) provided an inside look at the physical, emotional and aural worlds of the SIFA 2019 commission at Displaced Persons’ Welcome Dinner: Process Insight Talk.
Huzir and .gif gave audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the highly acclaimed production. They shared rehearsal clips in which the performers improvised emotionally charged scenarios, bringing their characters to life. Audiences witnessed how the physical and vocal vocabulary of the ensemble, which were crafted by director Claire Wong, were weaved into Huzir’s play. The actors also carried out group exercises focused on creating synergy, and .gif emphasised that “it was not enough to just get them to stay together, they needed to behave as one being”.
In total, Huzir wrote 11 drafts with “air on the page,” leaving space for the input of the creative team through their direction, performance, lights and sound. .gif also recounted their musical inspirations while creating the score for Displaced Persons’ Welcome Dinner, which ranged from Bach to Balinese gamelan players. Chew Wei Shan played some of their musical experimentations live, so that audience members could observe how the nuanced and unique songs of the play evolved.
Through this talk, the audience discovered the many moving pieces that came together to bring this incredibly layered multidisciplinary work to life.