LG and I went to watch Nadirah, a Teatre Ekamatra production written by Alfian Sa’at and directed by Zizi Azah Abdul Majid and Jo Kukathas. I keep thinking that enough’s been said about race and sexuality that nothing new can said about these topics, but Alfian Sa’at has proven me wrong more than a few times. He claims to have been inspired by Yasmin Ahmad in the wake of her untimely death, and I definitely see glimpses of her here and there, Yasmin’s touch softening the usual bite of Alfian’s writing.
The play presented the potential complications of the intersections of race and religion in our society, and gave us no easy answers. It’s better that way.
In his own words Alfian Sa’at said that he took inspiration from the case of Maria Hertogh/Nadra binte Ma’arof during the writing of Nadira. The Maria Hertogh case is one that’s often trotted out to prove the fragility of racial and religious issues, and yet we rarely get the chance to dive deep into the history, knowing only the name and that there was a riot, skimming the surface for the sake of “racial harmony”. We fail to see real people involved in the machinations of history, and maybe that’s the problem.