Long long time ago, in an age long forgotten (by me). My friends and I used to enjoy getting involved in plays, be it the script writing part, the acting part or even the marketing part (OK Fine! None of us like to do any of the marketing part). But we never really have a place where we can learn all these. We teach ourselves as we go along, some of us having worked in TV Productions input what we can to move the production along. This happened both in school and also while I was in college. It’s the school of hard knocks but we get to appreciate the fruit of our labor. But what if there’s a place where you can learn all these? Isn’t it much better?
I’m sure by now, a lot of you know who Enfiniti is, they are the people behind the successful Puteri Gunung Ledang the Musical, P. Ramlee the Musical and the most recently ended West End Stars in Concert just to name a few. Tiara Jacquelina, through her experience working in this industry decide to take Enfiniti one step further by also now opening up an academy. The Enfiniti Academy of Musical Theatre and Entertainment Arts or ENACT to be exact. Yup, finally a place where young people who has an interest in stage performance or acting in general get to learn in a more structured manner all those things necessary to become a star or rather, to be a professional in the area of acting, dancing or producing a stage play/musical.
I got the chance recently to attend a short little sneak preview at ENACT to find out what is it that they offer and what they are offering is quite detailed, covering a lot of the area that I feel we need more people in. For now though, they are offering short courses to anyone who’s interested (which is good for those who’s impatient and want to absorb as much as they can over a short period) but in the pipe line, there’s plans for diploma or degree courses in it (which I feel is quite suitable as we can over a longer period, get better in the specific areas we want to master in).
The first person I got to talk to was Raymond Miranda (The VP of Content & Strategy) as he spend some time in explaining to us a bit more about musical theater and how the interest of this genre is growing in our country (he literally broke out in songs as he start to talk to us). He also picked our brains to see how much we know about the history of musical and how it’s affecting our lives whether we realize it or not. Which is quite true, we see all these Musical Theater every day on TV through variety programs through shows like Saturday Night Live, In Living Colors (for those of you who remembers this program) and a few others. “Musical theater is the fastest growing art form in Malaysia today. There is an increasing demand for such an art form, creating a need for trained performers. Performing arts courses will introduce a solid foundation for performers to build their performances on and simultaneously increase the quality of the industry” says Raymond.
Pat Ibrahim was next as he guide us through a brief background on what his role is in the ENACT and what students stand to receive as they go through the course he is teaching. Like Tiara Jacquelina say, if Pat Ibrahim can teach her (who doesn’t know how to sing and dance prior to PGL) to sing and dance in 3 months to prepare for Puteri Gunung Ledang, he can do so with everyone else who wants to learn. “This is the best opportunity for budding triple threats (act, sing and dance) to ride the wave that Enfiniti has created. To sustain the musical theater industry, practitioners have to be equipped and trained in acting, singing and dancing. Also, there’s an increasing number of young people who are interested in this industry and who better to pass on industry skills than ENACT?” says Pat.
After Raymond and Pat, we figured that it’s going to be a mild session next as there’s mostly just conversations between the media (i think I ask all these people the most questions which I think I should next time learn to keep quiet and let others ask as well) and the instructors. I was dead wrong as Sue (Suhaili Micheline) decide to make us … dance! We were put through a few steps from doing simple moves while we say our names to doing a short choreograph she came up with. Interest stuff and the space they have for the dance studio is beautiful, ceiling to floor, wall to wall mirrors and nice flooring that is suitable for dancing. Excellent space, I almost broke into a dance there but had to hold back. “There are many undiscovered talents in this country and many of them yearn to grace the stage. With performing arts courses, the industry will be able to identify potential talents and prepare them for the industry.” says Sue.
By the end of the day, I also got to sit down and have a chat with Tiara Jacquelina, the person behind ENACT to find out more about the Academy and what is her vision for the place further down the road. “I hope to see more local actors or singers who are serious about sharpening their skills or expanding their craft, take this opportunity to do just that, to learn from the best people within the industry, I myself have not stopped learning, and still attend dance and vocal classes as well as acting workshops whenever possible” says Tiara.
I asked her about visiting actors and actresses from oversea, what is her thoughts about getting these people to engage with the students or budding actors who wants to talk to these celebrities and she did mentioned that this is something that ENACT has been doing from the day they started the Academy, firstly with Lea Salonga and then with the West End Stars (Stephen Rahman-Huges, Simon Bailey and Ramin Karimloo) as not only does it work well with getting the students motivated to pursue this career path, even the stars themselves want to do these on-ground engagement to share their experience. I do hope that there’s more to come as it’s always good to learn from these artistes that has gone through all the challenges placed before them to get to where they are now.
The first course ENACT will be offering to kick things off is the STARMAKER Musical Theater Bootcamp. Running from the 27th May to the 26th of June over a 5 weekend (Friday to Sunday) intensive workshop. Quite an interesting program that is lined up as students attending this workshop will be trained to become “triple threats” to meet the varied demands of a musical theater career. Those who joined might also get a chance to be part of Enfiniti’s upcoming musicals too as the workshops is taught by the same people who choreograph all these musicals. Maybe I should join and get myself spotted, the next Apek for musical might just be me! OK fine, who would want to see a blob like me on stage making a fool of myself. Already am doing a fine job at it on the dance floor and on this blog. Right? It’s going to cost RM1,200 per person and covers topics like acting techniques, ballet, Jazz & Expression as well as storytelling through dance. Vocal technique & performance, musical theater appreciation and history, text analysis and character development as well as theater etiquette & professionalism. The course will end with a performance lab and showcase. It’s first come first served basis though as space is limited.
After hearing what we have to go through though. I told Pat Ibrahim, I’ll just stick to doing my contribution to the musical industry, by hanging out at the canteen at Istana Budaya prior to performances gorging myself silly with the nasi lemak they sell there. Anyway, interested parties can email ENACT about the courses through firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at +603-6142-9877. Personally, am excited to see the direction this Academy is growing, maybe I could now sit down with Tiara and her team to talk about this idea I had and see how we could bring it forward. Watch this space!