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First Meeting, 05 November 2019

Updated: May 16, 2023

9 pm - 12 am

Haizad and Syimah’s Abode

The very first meeting for Jiwang was a discussion held at Haizad and Syimah’s home to get the initial thoughts and processes moving before the year concludes and other projects come in, so as to allow the collaborators to incubate and deepen their understanding. Such a location was conducive and relevant to the topic as it brings about a sense of familiarity, cosiness and comfort. The collaborators, Jonit, Sharul, Syimah and Haizad have different relationships with the term jiwang, which is subjective and broad by itself, and Haizad would like to streamline its role and definition in the context of the full-length work.

The setting for the discussion was unconventional yet relevant.

Haizad started off the discussion by sharing what he has researched as well as his perspective on jiwang, while the others also chipped in their thoughts:

  • Memories/Reminiscence

  • Places associated with such songs

  • Triggers of sadness

  • Sad songs/songs about loss

  • Escapism

  • Sadness

    • Many levels of sadness, and acknowledging that everyone’s sadness is subjective

    • Managing/Coping with sadness

    • Identifying sadness as an experience and/or emotion

  • Vulnerability/Being vulnerable

Some of the exploration points of jiwang.

He continued that for this performance, he wanted to focus on the ‘sadness’ aspect on jiwang rather than the ‘romance’ aspect as most of the Malay 80s rock ballads are about romance or the lack/loss of it. He then shared the treatment and vibe he had in mind, which is inspired by a video of The Manhattans’ Kiss and Say Goodbye to which he commented was “funny yet seriously emotional”.

A few thoughts came to mind as they were discussing:

  • With Haizad being the conceptualiser, will the collaborators be embodying his sadness, or their own?

  • What is it about jiwang that Haizad wants to say, or what does he want the collaborators to say, for and through the work?

  • The subjectivity of jiwang could bring in perspectives and experiences from a wide spectrum

  • How about those that have never experienced, gone through or been exposed to jiwang songs? How will they express it?

  • The sample size of cast and involved parties may not necessarily be diverse enough to encapsulate the essence of jiwang. That also raises the question if that is even needed or necessary.

Haizad then asked for the collaborators’ consent if they are okay with going very personal in this process and becoming vulnerable to themselves and to new people. He then invited them to carry out the first task; each of them have to select one (preferably sad) song, choose a spot in the house, wear their headphones and sing-a-long loudly to it, and each of them will do it concurrently. While that was taking place, the others who were present were clearly entertained by what was happening.

Were they merely entertained by the untrained singing/rapping, which was an expression of them indulging in sadness?

Was it inconsiderate to laugh at them, to laugh first and understand later?

Why do we sometimes cringe when we see someone being self-indulgent as they express their emotions?

The first task.

Sharul and Syimah chose Malay songs, while Jonit decided on an English rap song. She shared afterwards that she does not feel sadness and it is more challenging for her to channel that emotion. Throughout the task, each of their singing volumes fluctuated; perhaps it was their confidence in singing certain parts, and it also depends on their prior knowledge of the songs, which suggests the differing effects their relationship to the song has.

They then had to swap songs and carry out the task again two more times, by the end of which each of them would have listened and sang along to each others’ songs.

Some thoughts and discussion points following the task:

  1. There was some difficulty in singing and understanding the song in an unfamiliar language (particularly Jonit).

    1. Either the language of their song or their usual language of expression

  2. It was a way to understand each others’ sadness and finding out a bit more about each other, what genre/lyrics/words resonate better

  3. Elements of a song that allow them to feel/channel/embrace sadness

  4. Different ‘approaches’ or triggers to sadness i.e:

    1. Melody of the song

    2. Sadness as a secondary emotion following anger and frustration

    3. To be self-indulgent in sadness

Haizad then assigned the collaborators 'homework, which was to be aware and note down their moments of sadness; encounters, songs (as well as their categories/genre), triggers.

There were then a few closing points for the debrief;

  1. Escapism is slightly problematic as it is not a human condition

  2. Not everyone necessarily have the same triggers, and those triggers may not necessarily be songs

  3. The understanding of jiwang in society’s context

  4. It is still early on in the creative process, there is a whole ‘treasure chest’ of Escapism to be explored

  5. Jiwang as:-

    1. a state of mind,

    2. state of body

    3. a method

    4. something that utilises the sympathy body

  6. Each of them to come out with their definitions, understandings and meaning of jiwang, which Haizad will then sieve out and see which ones he is most drawn to and would want to explore further

  7. Haizad shared that he would like the collaborators to explore further about the entry point or approach to sadness/being sad (genuine sadness) and to ‘train on sadness’

    1. He does not want to approach actors to find out how they do it to keep it as organic and personal as possible

  8. The collaborators found out that they can sing or internalise some songs better than others

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