by Jaipreet Kaur
On Sunday, 3rd August the students of Punjabi Education Centre Petaling Jaya performed ‘The Sikh Wedding – Part 2’ (Part 1 was performed a few years ago and was captured on slides before the concert began) at their concert at the University Malaya Experimental Theatre. Just like a real Sikh wedding, the show took months of preparation and organisation – the bride and groom had to be told what to do, the scripts had to be written, the guests had to be invited. A balance had to be struck between the level of instruction from the older teachers and the ability of the younger students to perform every set task to perfection.
I volunteered as part of the backstage team. Again, many parallels could be drawn between working backstage at this event, and working behind the scenes of a real wedding – it could best be described as an organised mess where everyone knew what the ultimate goal was, but had various different ideas about how it could best be achieved. During the dress rehearsal, the backstage team managed to divide up the various roles and responsibilities, and just like any good backstage team anywhere in the world, we did our best to make the teachers’ and students’ vision for what ought to happen on stage a reality.
In the end, none of the chaos from backstage was visible to the audience. The students were hugely impressive – the entire performance was in Punjabi, which was an enormous success considering the fact that for the vast majority of them, it was not their first language despite it being their mother tongue. Indeed, many of the children were able to speak better Punjabi than their parents! For such a young group, I was surprised by the high quality of their acting, though I suppose I should not have been, because each and every student on stage had undoubtedly been going to weddings from the time they were old enough to be carried to them, so everything they did on stage came very naturally to them.
All in all, it was an extremely enjoyable performance, and a hugely educational one. Each part of the wedding was described and its significance explained to the audience, and the students played their parts with authenticity and enthusiasm. I hope very much that their parents congratulated them for what they were able to achieve as a result of spending the greater part of so many precious Saturdays at ‘Punjabi School’.