Theatre and it’s Circuit of Culture form of art that has been around for centuries and is an important part of many cultures. The Circuit of Culture is a model that describes the different stages that a cultural product goes through, from production to consumption. In the context of theatre, the Circuit of Culture can be applied to understand the various elements and processes involved in the creation and consumption of theatrical performances.
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Despite having a Malay-Muslim majority and Islam as its declared religion, Malaysia is now known as a multi-racial and multi-religious Southeast Asian country. It is one of the region’s fastest growing emerging nations, and its capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is widely recognized as a global city, acting as a hub for international business, banking, and education. Peninsular Malaysia (formerly known as Malaya) was a British colony from 1824 to 1957 (though British influence began much earlier). The performing arts in post-independence Malaya would focus on decolonizing the stage, which had previously been dominated by British expats.
Regulation: Cultural Policies and Governance of Malaysia’s Theatre
- Malaysia’s National Culture Policy, enacted in 1971, was founded on three main ideas. First, the country’s national culture should be founded on that of the indigenous people (or bumiputera). Second, foreign cultures can be assimilated into national culture as long as they are “suitable and reasonable.” Third, Islam should be and should continue to be the central element of national culture. These concepts essentially excluded performing arts in other languages (and cultures), such as English, Chinese, and Indian, which were then regarded as autonomous theatre.
Production and Consumption: Various Stakeholders of Malaysia’s Theatre
- The agencies that oversee production sites, such as MOTAC, which runs Istana Budaya, could be classed. The DBKL City Theatre is managed by another entity, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall. Because of their perceived grandeur and scale, these venues are preferred by state-sponsored and huge commercial theatre companies. Mid-sized performance venues, such as the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) and the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC), provide alternative stages in the private sector. There are also many community-driven performance spaces, such as the KuAsh Theatre, Five Arts Centre Blackbox, and NOW Theatre. Performances presented along various linguistic and cultural lines endow these venues with distinct traits and identities. Istana Budaya has hosted numerous Malay musicals and theatrical acts.
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