“KELUNAN”: A cultural, musical theatre-style piece

“Bravo The Tuyang Initiative, Juvita Tatan Wan and the team for crafting a delicate and delightful show. For once, traditional performances are not only tools to sell tourism but a way to tell stories so rich and layered that everyone should learn and be proud of.”

Tan Cher Kian
Theatre professional (Malaysia)

Feel the melodic intensity of the Kenyah and Kayan war cries. Witness the elegant yet strong dances. Be moved by the soaring, haunting melody of the Kayan elder as she sings praises to the storyteller.

Join acclaimed Kenyah Sape’ master, Mathew Ngau Jau (Malaysia’s Living National Heritage) and Adrian Jo Milang (youngest practitioner of the Parap & Takna’, Kayan oral tradition), and a team of cross-generational community cultural practitioners (collectively known as Lan e Tuyang) who originated from many parts, including the interiors of Sarawak (Malaysia’s Borneo). They have come together to share age-old traditions in a stirring piece of history of the Kayan and Kenyah people through their dance, poetic singing-story telling and folk songs, accompanied by the beautiful melodies of the Sape’, a traditional-lute of both these communities.

Kelunan provides a snippet into the life and history of the olden Kenyah and Kayan (indigenous people of central Borneo) people as they experienced a time transitioning from war, to love and celebration. Woven together in musical theatre format, it helps build a connection with contemporary audience while maintaining its authenticity in delivery of the art forms. It also guides and transports the imagination of an unfamiliar audience into the lives of the communities.

“This is an important piece as it gave us an opportunity to introduce ourselves to a wider audience – in our own terms. The show highlights our age-old traditions, our languages and a bit of our history. It was also creatively-led and performed by cross-generational practitioners from the Kenyah and Kayan communities. Not written, directed or performed by anyone else. More than half of our cast are not professional stage actors, three are above the age of 70, and yet they deliver a solid show. Our hope is that more from our communities, especially the younger generation, will be awakened to the possibilities of being professional cultural practitioners. But most importantly, realising the importance of spending time with our elders, learning about our origins and traditions before they go. When they go, they bring parts of who we are with them”, said Juvita Tatan Wan (Kenyah), producer and co-founder of The Tuyang Initiative.

This stage show is 50-minutes (no intermission), Kayan & Kenyah language with English subtitles. Suitable for all ages.

Acknowledgements

Music Direction & Words: Mathew Ngau Jau, Adrian Jo Milang, Lian Balan, Salomon Gau, Rose Belare
Artistic Direction: Juvita Tatan Wan, Mathew Ngau Jau, Adrian Jo Milang, Salomon Gau
Musicians: Sape’ – Mathew Ngau Jau, Salomon Gau, Lian Balan, Jatung Utang – Edmund Ngau Bilong
Vocals: Tukang Habe (Kayan Chorus) – Anye Emut, Hulo Laing
Female dancers & vocals: Marlyn Lengan, Rose Belare, Eleanor Simon, Grace Saban Henry
Male dancers & vocals: Adrian Jo Milang, Salomon Gau, Edmund Ngau Bilong

English Translation: Adrian Jo Milang, Juvita Tatan Wan, John Wan Usang

Producer: Juvita Tatan Wan (The Tuyang Initiative)

This project was independently produced by The Tuyang Initiative.

Kelunan Production History

2019 | Spectrum Sept 6 & 8,
Damansara Performing Arts Centre (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia

Selected Media

Interview with Juvita Tatan Wan on BFM (radio)

Interview with Juvita Tatan Wan in The Star

Interview with Juvita Tatan Wan in Dayak Daily

Interview with Mathew Ngau Jau & Juvita Tatan Wan in Oriental Daily

Photo courtesy of Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC).
Photo courtesy of Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC).
Photo courtesy of Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC).
Photo courtesy of Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC).

Kelunan (Behind The Scenes)