Material Woman in the Beauty World
“People like me are everywhere – but nobody really sees us. We look ordinary. We fit in.”
Material Woman in the Beauty World considers the sociological portrait of an ‘ordinary’ woman in her 50s. The main character is a beautician who shares the many aspects of her life, predominantly seen through her work. She invites us into the beauty world with narratives about clients and friends supplemented by stories of laser hair removals, facials, full-body massages, and weight loss regimes.
She also gives us a glimpse into her life – her interests in fengshui and fortune-telling, her attitude towards money, the complexities of the relationships she has with the people in her life, and her attempts to get a divorce during the Covid-19 pandemic.
What adds value to the play is its use of language. Material Woman in the Beauty World features two productions, one in English and the other in Mandarin. This crosses the invisible divide between language users and communities and expands the way we understand the play – the story of the same character, with its portrayal and narrative challenged by the use of two different languages. This presents a truly unique way of experiencing and embracing the play.
Written by Leow Puay Tin, directed by Tung Jit Yang, and performed by Ling Tang, Material Woman in the Beauty World premiers in Penang, promising a thoughtful reflection on what it means to be the ideal woman.
Leow Puay Tin is one of Malaysia’s most acclaimed, ground-breaking theatre artists, known for her innovative approaches to writing. Her major plays – Three Children, Family, and A Modern Woman Called Ang Tau Mui – have been performed widely across Southeast Asia, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and the USA. Her work has been staged by key directors and companies in the region, with the late Krishen Jit and the arts collective that he co-founded, Five Arts Centre, being foremost. Five Arts Centre provided crucial support for the development of her recent new plays which include Material Woman in the Beauty World.
Puay Tin is also known for her unique approach to devising, writing, and curating “tikam-tikam” texts – creating performance texts through writing original pieces or using extracts of text culled from published and oral sources such as transcripts, articles, stories, songs, and more. In performance, the sequence of these texts is determined using chance operations and audience participation – creating unrepeatable experiences of encounter. Puay Tin is also Associate Professor at the Department of Film and Performing Arts, Sunway University.
Performer and producer Ling Tang is a graduate of the Beijing Central Academy of Drama in China and the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in France.
Ling is the founder of Now Theatre in Kuala Lumpur, and a member of the David Glass Ensemble and Theatre ASH. Her international festival performances include the Guan Du Arts Festival, Macau Fringe, Gwangju International Performing Arts Festival, Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), Brighton International Arts Festival, Brighton Fringe, Liverpool Physical Fest, and Avignon Fringe. Besides performing, Ling also teaches performance at the École Philippe Gaulier in France.
Tung Jit Yang is a theatre performer and director. He is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of Arts (USA) and was formerly a Director-in-Residence at The Actors Studio Malaysia @ The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre. Jit works primarily in creating new devised works, most recently – The Emperor’s New Clothes Or How The Procession Has Got To Go On performed by six young actors, and a 12-hour durational theatre work, EveryThoughtI’veEverHad: Contemplating the Origin of the Sun, performed by him and two collaborators for a physical audience at Kongsi KL and live-streamed online.
Inspirations from the Southeast — Penang, Malaysia
Date: 22 & 23 July 2023
Time: 2.00pm & 5.00pm
Venue: GSC Cinema, Gurney Plaza
Inspirations from the Southeast is a captivating documentary series featuring places in Southeast Asia, the region in the south of Taiwan. By blending the old with the new, the documentary captures the wisdom of Southeast Asia countries and their histories, providing insight into the significance of preserving one’s own culture. The current screening focuses on Penang, Malaysia, with an exposition on the city makers of George Town. As a UNESCO World Heritage city, the residents of George Town aim to make their city a living heritage. Whether it’s the stained walls of the street houses, the smells of various spices in the market, or the sound of the Songkok maker paddling the sewing machine, these essential historical and cultural elements of Penang are making the old city new. By portraying the stories of the living heritage, the documentary offers perspectives on everyday life and how city makers continuously shape and transform our experiences of tangible and intangible heritage within the city.