As far as my memory can be trusted, the last time I went to watch a theatre was probably 16 years ago (?) with my parents. So, when I heard our next field trip of the class is to watch a theatre, well, it is definitely something that I looked forward to. The theatre that we watched is called Baling Talk. It never crossed my mind that it is a historical-genre and it is a very unique kind of theatre because it is mobile (I hope I get the terms right). What I meant by mobile is, we (audience) have to walk up and down (it was played in a shop lot-kind of place) the stairs (obviously) to the first floor and then settled down at the ground floor.
But what is Baling talk? Why Baling? Does the actor throw something to each other? Well, silly if you think of that (but you’re not alone if you do). Baling Talk is about the talk that took place in Baling, Kedah. Talk between 3 notable people in the making of the Independence Day of Malaysia. These 3 people are, our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, David Marshall, the 1st Chief Minister of Singapore and Chin Peng, Malaya’s Communist.
I don’t think the Baling Talk has ever came out in our school history text book. It is a talk that happened a year before the Independence Day (1956). This talk is more on negotiation between both Tunku and David Marshall with Chin Peng. The two of them would like Chin Peng to surrender before Tunku leaves for England. But, the talk failed because Chin Peng did not agree to the terms that was set by Tunku and David Marshall as he and the rest of the Communist members to be isolated from the society and be under surveillance. A bit of a trivia that was told by the actors to us is, it is in this talk when Chin Peng made his first appearance in public.
Anyhow, the play started downstairs and we were shown a video of the Baling Talk. Not the actual talk but just a snippet or more of a introduction (or propaganda) to the Baling Talk (watch below!)
After the video, we were directed to move upstairs. There were probably hundreds of papers glued to the wall (like in the picture below) and then three actors, each being the Tunku, David Marshall and Chin Peng, came in behind us (we were sitting on the floor except for a few who got to sit on a stool) and started looking so furious and looked at the papers. Then, the actors started talking and it caught us by surprise when they pulled the papers off the wall and threw it on the floor (to express their anger/frustration). And then, we moved back downstairs and there were lots of books being arranged on the floor in some pattern (only after the talk, during the discussion, we knew that the books were arranged like the map of Tanah Melayu) and the play continued. Only then, the three actors changed characters. For example, the first scene, the actor played Tunku, the next scene, he played Chin Peng. Something new to me but so far, it is interesting that the concept is like that.
The Baling Talk play is definitely one of the most unique type of play that I’ve ever encountered and it definitely gave me a new insight in the process of achieving independence for this country.