Fri 11 Jan 2008
Filed under: Interviews,News
The famous dance troupe ‘Colourful Theelaythee variety dance troupe’, popular among the Burmese will proceed on its international tour to Singapore, Korea, Japan, US, England, Australia and Canada after performing in Malaysia in the forthcoming performance at the ‘Student Christian Centre Auditorium’ in Bangkok on January 12 and 13.
We present here an interview with troupe leader Godzilla on their attitude, stand, feelings and aims.
Q: What do you have to say about the response of the audience at home and abroad?
A: We use the same strength and commitment both at home and abroad in our performances like the lion use the same strength in hunting its prey irrespective of the size. Similarly we use the same strength and commitment in cracking our jokes. The jokes are the same as the jokes in Burma. But the response is better in foreign countries though their numbers are much less than inside Burma, because they can rarely see such a show in their place. And also these people have one or other resentment in their mind before leaving Burma. They show their great enthusiasm when we crack jokes on their resentments. This is the only significance we found here.
Q: How are your jokes in foreign countries different from the jokes in Burma?
A: Yes, there are some differences. Some Burmese Diaspora does not have an in-depth knowledge of what’s going on in Burma. When we crack jokes portraying what’s going on in Burma they show their heartfelt enthusiasm. And also they have their own difficulties in these foreign countries. For instance, they have to pay taxes at the Burmese embassies. Though they pay taxes regularly they do not get any assistance from the embassy staff. And also they are suffering discrimination and humiliation at their work places sometimes even from their own Burmese people when the Burmese embassy ignores them. Especially we crack jokes on he Burmese embassy. For instance, the Burmese embassy in Malaysia entertains only 20 persons per day for paying taxes, sometimes delaying their counselor service for the whole day. But they cannot get any assistance from the embassy when they are in a dispute and trouble at their work places like having a dispute with their employer. When they lodge complaints with the embassy about their disputes and problems, the embassy ignores them. We crack jokes on these.
Q: How did the regime respond to your jokes which made frontal attacks and criticized the situation in Burma and their governance? Do you have any concerns over the anger and hatred of the regime?
A: We prepared our jokes from the very beginning with due care and in detail based on the feeling that are in the people’s heart, and also we made our jokes constructive in spirit. So we have no concern over how the government will view us. We are satisfied only with what we can do. We don’t think of arrest and punishment, we see it not as our concern and our job.
Q: What inspires you to create these jokes?
A: Our jokes come from our own thinking and consideration but the most basic raw material comes from the people. As we always mingle with the people we know well their feelings and resentments. We compile these raw materials and create our jokes. The basis is the people and our jokes come from the people. We add only our toppings and create these jokes based on this raw material.
Q: How will you define your art?
A: We see ‘art’ as people’s strength. One can become an artiste only after receiving people’s applause and enthusiasm. We see the role of the artiste as reflecting the feelings of the people, expressing their feelings on their behalf to the whole world and to the international community.
Q: How do you build harmony and unity in your troupe?
A: Unity can be achieved only on the same base and foundation. We must have the same base and foundation to achieve unity. In our comedian’s world, there are two schools, one is risquÃ© humour and another is philosophic dry wit and humour. Our band of brothers do not crack risquÃ© jokes, we like only philosophic dry wit and humour. Our troupe is composed of these like minded brothers.
Q: Please tell us the remembrances of the moments of establishing this troupe.
A: Now it’s been about three years. Previously we formed a troupe with seven friends namely Ko Zarganar (tweezers), Ko Kinkong, Ko Nhetpaywkyaw (fried banana), Nyaung Nyaung, and Ko Poe Phyu. Then Ko Zargana was banned from performing shows and we were left only with six people. Then we considered recruiting the new generation for our troupe and we found these new generation comedians, Theelaythee. We see them as having calibre and same mindset with us. Then we invited them to join our performances and later established as a separate entity.
Q: How did you prepare to return to Burma after making jokes in foreign countries?
A: We haven’t yet prepared for it for the time being. First we shall visit all countries where we are invited. After performing at all these shows, we shall return to Burma. It is their job to arrest us when we return, not our concern. Our task is to perform and then return to Burma.
Q: Where will you proceed after the Bangkok show?
A: We shall perform in Bangkok on the 12th and 13th. Then we will be in Singapore on 19th, 25th and 26th in Chiang Mai, and then we shall proceed to Korea, Japan, US, Canada, Australia and England. We shall go anywhere if we are invited. I think our tour will take at least two months. The Burmese Diaspora from many countries invites us.