All the world’s a stage - and that includes Brunei

Peter Mould performing to Brunei youngsters
Peter Mould performing to Brunei youngsters

A SHAKESPEARE buff has been spreading the word of the Bard to drama-starved youngsters in Brunei.

Peter Mould, vice chairman of The Stables Theatre in Hastings, took his touring show Celebrating Shakespeare to the kingdom, which is on the island of Borneo.

Having already performed the show in the US, Mr Mould is no stranger to adapting his work for new audiences, and the version he did in Brunei was his eighth variation.

And, during his week-long jaunt, he entertained more than 1,300 eager children and adults - hosting a number of workshops as well as question and answer sessions, where questions ranged from analysis of Shakespeare’s plays to ones about his most embarrassing moments on stage.

The visit got underway with a Shakespeare Festival, attended by more than 250 students from six Brunei secondary schools.

“Drama is not really part of the Bruneian scene,” Mr Mould explained.

“This is partly historical, and also it is not part of the Islamic tradition; but things seem to be changing.”

The bulk of his performances for the rest of the week were at Jerudong International School, which is home to students from more than 40 different nationalities.

“I was told that around 80 per cent of the students had English as a second language,” Mr Mould told he Observer, “but their response to Shakespeare’s prose was incredible.

“They were attentive, well informed and asked a wide variety of questions; some very challenging.

“Like all children worldwide, they enjoyed the physical drama and the comedy.

“There were some cultural differences, which were also an education for me.”

One member of the enthusiastic audience, Mustafa Mabruk, said: “I saw his (Mr Mould) photo and I thought his show would be very serious.

“I don’t really like Shakespeare, I don’t understand it.

“But he was funny, and he is a very good actor. It was a good show.”

And such was the rarity of seeing a professional actor in Brunei, Mr Mould’s visit was reported in the national newspapers and even made it onto the evening news.