This rare collection of articles is interesting and readable. Makyung: Perspectives on Malaysia’s Traditional Theatre offers different facets of makyung that reveal significant everyday matters of concern that confront this unique cultural art form in Malaysia. Cultural activists, performers, theatre instructors, heritage enthusiasts, and students will find the book very valuable.
With remarkable intellectual breadth, Makyung: Perspectives on Malaysia’s Traditional Theatre presents a series of wide-ranging thoughts that frame makyung in this contemporary era dominated by digital opportunities. This compelling book will firstly educate before enlightening our thoughts on heritage conservation and the importance of documenting and recognizing Malaysia’s rich artifact, bringing the reader on a fresh journey of being reacquainted with Malaysia’s traditional theatre.
It provides a careful organization of materials to address the ways makyung is perceived by different agents that link theatre practices, organization and leadership with wider socio-political initiatives. It is certainly a book to be included on the reading list of a course on Malaysian theatre. A spark of hope to sustain the art lingers, but not before the reader falls in love with the very idea of makyung as a most treasured dance-theatre to be shared with generations to come.
Makyung is well known that traditional art forms an important role in the integration of culture and sustenance of ethnic identity as well as in the mediation among cultures in contact. UNESCO’s proclamation of the ancient Malay theatre form known as makyung was indeed pivotal in the sense that it posited and termed this irreplaceable moribund art form as a “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity“. Makyung is considered as an archetype of authentic Malay performing art because it remains generally untouched and untainted by external influence.
While this book does not attempt to provide a detailed and comprehensive study on makyung, it offers a myriad of exploratory perspectives from the lenses of individuals involved in different areas of the arts. Some of these informative yet persuasive observations form the core of our research endeavor heritage documentation and the recognition of makyung as a major pillar of Malaysia’s rich heritage artifact. It would not be incredulous and presumptuous to hope for this book to be a preliminary starting point for anyone from all spheres of society wishing to learn more of this ancient art form. Indeed, the sustenance and conservation of makyung as a constituent part of affirming and enriching Malaysia’s cultural identity are both imperative and timely.
Malaysia has a responsibility to stimulate interest and promote knowledge of makyung as the pride of the national heritage. Having reliable information on current levels of public knowledge, attitudes and practices will be imperative in carrying out activities that will uphold, advance and sustain this unique dance-drama in the coming years. While the general awareness, familiarity, and understanding towards makyung are relatively low, Makyung: Perspectives on Malaysia’s Traditional Theatre indicates that the public generally has positive attitudes towards makyung and that this will pave ways for action plans in promoting this dance-drama.