Humptie De Umptie : ‘Real life experiences portrayed through play’

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Produced and directed by Ridwan Hassim , Humptie De Umptie is all set to enthrall the audience at Short+Sweet festival from January 10-12, 2015.

The producer says that the play is based on his personal experiences and he has portrayed his own life in the form of play.

Ridwan began writing in 2001 and   loves to write about his personal life experiences.

“Writing this play has been a catharsis for me, I have managed through it to overcome my past, and to now focus on the future,” says Ridwan.

“I am a social conscience storyteller. My objective is to create stories that break down prejudice that exists towards those that are marginalised.  It is my third short theatre play, I endeavour to take the audience on the same journey of the suicide, so that they may understand the depths of despair and hopefully in doing so it will challenge and break down any prejudice towards people who suffer from Mental Health issues”.

It took him a long time to finalise the draft of this play.

“ After 40 drafts and 80 hours of rehearsal, this play is now ready for performance. I have never worked so hard on any project, whilst every story that I write is personal, this is my most personal to date. We are all put through tests to strengthen our character,” says Ridwan.

“This is allegorically based on my own journey in the last three years, travelling on my jihad al nafs (journey against my ego and temptation), battling depression and anxiety along the way, after my two divorces,” adds Ridwan.

“This short play is a personal exploration of mental illness, that affects 1 in 5 Australians at some point of their life through the device of well known ‘Nursery Rhyme characters’. Mental Illness is highly stigmatised in society and my objective as a social conscience storyteller is to break down the stereotypes and prejudice that exist towards socially marginalised individuals”.

Explaining about the play , Ridwan says , “Driven to the edge of sanity, ‘ HUMPTIE de UMPTIE’ tries to commit suicide when the  Little Lamb arrives with Old Mother Hubbard, hindering his every attempt to succeed”.

“Mental Health is highly stigmatised in society. When someone reaches that end stage, where all hope is seemingly vanquished, a time comes when  there is no one there, and someone feels completely alone, that is when they withdraw from everything and everyone and end up taking their life”.

“In the play the Little Lamb becomes that voice of hope, until the finale when the epiphany is revealed which makes Humptie De Umptieʼs final decision regarding his suicide (which he sees as his destiny) logical. This play explores his journey as he travels the gambit of emotional states on the Kubler-Ross Grief cycle”.

“For short and sweet the aim is to theatrically produce this play, theatrical costuming and set design to match a fairytale (Nursery Rhyme). This will transport the audience into another world”.

“I eliminated Incy Wincy spider and the justification to obey rules and instead have  added a Greek Choir in the form of a team of Medical Health Professionals (Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Social Worker) that observe Humptie and Lamb throughout the play from the audience, trying to use cognitive behaviour therapy on him. The Medical Professionals replace the dialogue in an earlier draft of Air Hostess  and provide clarity for the setting in a Mental Asylum,” adds Ridwan.

“This will also hopefully create a social commentary questioning whether medical health professionals really care about people with mental illness or are they just treated as a number, another person who the easy fix for is to prescribe medication to. Uma Kali Shakti is the Social Worker, Tsu Shan Chambers is the Psychologist and I will play the role of Dr Sanders (the Psychiatrist),” says Ridwan.

Explaining his journey in the making of  Humptie De Umptieʼs  , Ridwan says, “Over the years I often stared at a small statue that I purchased at Hunter Valley Polkobin Village in December 2007, of Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall, and wondered why is he there? In 2012 the answer came to me. He was challenged whether to commit suicide or not. 13 months, 29 drafts later I had a semi screenplay, semi theatre play written”.

“I sent it to Australian feature film cinematographer Peter A Holland for consideration to shoot it as a short film, he responded he would love to shoot it, did not fully comprehend it, but the visuals were very enticing. I sent it to Fleur Beaupert, with a view to direct as a short film, she stated ʻit is creatively brilliant, but I need to read it again to fully understand it”.

“The performance style that I am aiming for is realism, the audience needs to feel empathy with these characters, and we must feel their pain. In this manner suicide is no longer stereotyped, it becomes real, confronting as we follow this journey of Humptie de Umptie addressing his demons in a two hander”.


Humptie De Umptie : ‘Real life experiences portrayed through play’

Humptie De Umptie : ‘Real life experiences portrayed through play’

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