Drumming to the beat of ‘Fatih- The Prince and The Drum’

Senses Ili Farhana 29-Jul-2019

We all love a good story. Tale of good and evil, goddesses and princes. In this day and age of atrocities, a good story with a happy ending lifts up our spirits. NADI Singapura’s ‘Fatih- The Prince and The Drum’ did exactly that. No plot twists whatsoever. Just a solid 90 minutes of good old fashioned storytelling by narrator, Riduan Zalani.

‘Fatih’ starts off with Dewi Thia (Tutut Tuty), queen of the prosperous and rich Sritanmera asking the Moon Goddess (Rosemainy), Dewi Bulan, for a son. The Moon Goddess grants Dewi Thia’s wish and Fatih (Nizar Fauzie) was born. Raja Menntika (Norisham Osman), king of Sritanmera introduces Prince Fatih to the kingdom on ‘Janji Teguh Day.’ But it was also on this day that Laksamana Angker (Rizman Putra), Sritanmera’s army commander was exiled by the King over a dispute.

Prince Fatih grows up to be smart, strong and all set to learn the ropes of becoming a great leader like his father. However, news of the prince’s maiden voyage out in the sea got to fallen commander Angker and his band of pirates, Tohmah, and they manipulated the Ocean God Dewa Samudera (Jamaludin Latif) into sinking Fatih’s ship. Shortly after, Tohmah wreaks havoc in Sritanmera. Angker kills the king and imprisons the queen. Fatih, on the other hand, survives the ordeal and lands on an island called Maialena with his medallion, a gift from his mother before his journey and no memories of Sritanmera.

Fatih, now renamed Riba by Tuan Arjih (Fadhli Ramlee), leader of the people in Maialena decided to follow a map that shone out from his medallion into the sky. What’s a fairy tale without a princess? Enter Cyanila (Izzathy Halil), Tuan Arjih’s daughter who has grown fond of Fatih over the years. Leaving behind Cyanila, Fatih together with Tuan Arjih and his troops sail out to Sritanmera. At sea, a battle ensues between Tohmah and Maialena while Fatih confronts Angker.

Like all good tales, Angker and Tohmah are defeated and Fatih is reunited again with his mother and is crowned the new King of Sritanmera.

The success of ‘Fatih’ was not just in the storyline, but how — as a percussion-based musical — it managed to blend the narration and music well into the scenes.

The beautiful stage design and projected backdrop (by Wulang Sunu of Yogyakarta) helped tell the story better.  Costume design and make-up by Tube Gallery by Phisit & Saxit from Thailand & HTWR Artistic Team deserves a special mention as they too helped to complete the story. From the richness of Sritanmera to the ruthlessness of Tohmah, colours and textures were lush and rich, like everything else in the play. The well-choreographed dance movements courtesy of Nan Jombang Dance Company were graceful and gave an impact in making the play solid.

Our only complaint: It wasn’t loud enough. In such a beautiful hall with great acoustics, the beating of the drums felt muted, when we wanted it to echo through our hearts. As director Garin Nugroho pointed out in his director’s notes, “The sound of the drum is the most important ancient voice of the world after the human voice.” It should be heard loud and proud, as this is a beautiful gathering of strong creative forces from different parts of the region, telling a story of hope and love.

We’d love to see ‘Fatih’ again. One night was not enough. This was a big project made possible by a collaboration of three countries — Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. It deserves the grandiosity.


Photos by Bernie Ng, Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.