Issues and Challenges of Theatre in the University: A Review of MAKUM Theatre
MAKUM Theatre, organised by the collective cultural body of public universities in Malaysia, is an ambitious theatre-based programme which aims at several objectives. However, once a yearly event, its presence was later made sporadic, and is altogether missing from the scene at present. This paper reports a qualitative study on the MAKUM Theatre Festival 2014-2015, the last cycle prior to its absolute absence. Data was collected in the form of observation in which the critical incident technique was applied to support the view of the research, interviews with staff-secretariat and students, and a performance analysis of the students’ theatre productions. The study essentially deliberates upon factors which may assist in explaining the conundrum that is MAKUM Theatre, pointing to the issues and challenges of theatre within the university and its issue of sustainability. Analysis of the findings suggests several emerging features of MAKUM Theatre which may have influenced its (dis-)continued presence and presumed relevance, among which include a contesting ideology and application, format and rules, censorship and autonomy, race, culture, gender and religious representation, as well as the ever-present matter of finance, leadership, and transparency.
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