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TRADITIONAL TO CONTEMPORARY: SPATIAL

DESIGN IN THRONE OF THORNS A
CONTEMPORARY INTERCULTURAL THEATRE

Norzizi Zulkafli 1

1
Universiti Teknologi MARA

ABSTRACT

Throne of Thorns is a contemporary intercultural theatre performance directed by Norzizi Zulkifli, a Malaysian
director with Australian actors and creative team members in Australia. Initially, the production was a doctoral
creative project that was staged at the University of Wollongong (henceforth to be referred to as UOW) in
February 2015 and performed in English. Throne of Thorns is a Malay-centred intercultural theatre that merged
traditional Malay performance techniques (specifically Mak Yong and other traditional Malay forms), with
Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in order to create a new theatrical piece that was intercultural and contemporary. In
the performance, there were connections to Malay cultural traditions and able to communicate to a 21st century
Malaysian and Australian audience. This production is a response from The Tempest by Shakespeare and featured
nine sequences: The Opening Dance, The Shipwreck, The Hidden Secret, The Power of The Master, The
Conspiracy, The Planning, The Magic of Love, The Revelation and Closing Dance. The performers were
Australians made up of students Bachelor of Performance programme in UOW. The production team was also
supported by professional Malaysian and Australian creative artists, including Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Malaysian
visual art artist as a set and costumes designer, Kraig Grady, the Australian music director and Karen Norris the
lighting designer. For me, working with ten Australian actors, two stage managers, an American/Australian
musician with a Malaysian designer and a Maori lighting designer was a rich physical and spiritual journey as I
was enthralled in exploring, searching, doubting, questioning and being ‘stuck’ for ideas, led to discoveries about
ourselves as individuals, about the play and form, and about each other. Along the way, we shared expertise and
skills as we experimented. Therefore, this paper focuses on the discussions of the artistic decisions in creative
processes in creating the spatial design of Throne of Thorns, which was inspired by the traditional Malay theatre.

Keywords: Spatial design, Malay theatre, Throne of Thorns

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