A scene from the show.

IT has taken the multi-talented Yang Wei-Han a year to stage the 13-chapter Sutra of The Great Vow of DiZang as DiZang — The Musical.

“The physical preparation of the production took close to a year. However, creativity is the sum of life's experiences,” says Yang.

The main challenge was making a 2,000-year-old Buddhist scripture relevant and acceptable to modern society.

“I’m inquisitive and passionate about self-learning. As a result, I single-handedly worked on directing, writing, lyric-writing, composing, arranging, recording, audio-visual designing, stage-design, etc. The creative energy became rich with boundless possibilities,” says the Perak-born artiste.

Many may remember Yang, 47, as a pop singer, from his debut album Loving You Is Actually Perilous (1997). His songwriting talent also won him a Chinese AIM for Best Song Arrangement and Song Of The Year (2001, 2002).

Nowadays, his focus is on musical theatre, since his appearance in 1999 as the lead in Siddhartha The Musical.

Yang’s last original musical theatre production was Xuan Zang: Journey to the West — The Musical, in 2014. That story was about the adventures of Buddhist monk Xuan Zang on his pilgrimage from China to the “Western Regions” (India) to obtain sacred scriptures.

This latest musical is about DiZang’s vow to save the evil beings, especially the unrepentant. “It covers filial piety and reincarnation. Bodhisattva DiZang’s vow is an extremely difficult task.

“This musical attempts to showcase this great love and the selflessness of his spirit. I’ve used modern theatre techniques to stage the contents of 13 chapters.”

Yang has again worked with Tay Cher Siang on the music for the show.

“I’m seldom in front of a piano when I compose my music and songs. Instead, it’s when I’m walking, having a shower, waiting for the lift, and so on. The creative mode goes on all the time.

“Due to the budget, we cannot afford a live orchestra for the show. For that reason, I approached my compositions in different directions, exploiting orchestration and special synthesiser sounds for expression. These effects, after all, are not easily reproduced by a live orchestra,” he says, adding that the cast will sing live. Says Yang: “My only demand from the cast is for them to revert to nature and to play a role well.” — By SUBHADRA DEVAN subhadra@nst.com.my

FACT BOX:

DiZang — The Musical

When: April 19-22, 8.30pm (3pm matinees)

Where: Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC), Empire Damansara, PJ

Tickets from RM88. Call 03-4065 0001/0002

* English surtitles are provided throughout the performance.

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