2016.10.22 - 11.13



[Preview lecture] Mark Teh Lecture on “Baling”

Mark Teh is a leading theater artist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This autumn he will present his lecture performance Baling at Kyoto Experiment, which explores the so-called Baling Talks that took place in 1955 in what was then known as Malaya. These peace talks were held in an attempt to resolve the Malayan Emergency, during which communist rebels fought a guerrilla war against the government. As such, what happened and what was discussed at the talks can help us better understand the situation in Singapore and Malaysian today. Teh became interested in the talks and has been presenting a series of lecture performance based on the actual transcripts since 2005. The version he stages at Kyoto Experiment will be the culmination of these years of historical research.

For this lecture, Teh will introduce the context of the Malayan Emergency of 1948-1960 as well as the way in which Baling tries to examine Malaysia’s past from a perspective different to the official one, while also sharing some of his motivations for embarking on this 11-year endeavor.


Mark Teh, Baling, photo by June Tan

Mark Teh Lecture on Baling

Date: July 15, 2016 / 15:00-16:30
Venue: 3F Conference Room 2, ROHM Theatre Kyoto
Language: English (with consecutive Japanese interpretation)
Free admission
Capacity: 30
Please make reservations online or by telephone


Mark Teh
Mark Teh is a director, curator and researcher whose diverse projects are particularly engaged with the issues of history, memory and the urban context. His collaborative work is situated primarily in performance and education, but also operates via exhibitions, new media, writing and social interventions. He graduated with an MA in Art and Politics from Goldsmiths, University of London, and currently teaches at the Department of Performance & Media, Sunway University. Teh is also a member of Five Arts Centre, a collective of artists, activists and producers based in Malaysia.

photo: Victor Chen


Mark Teh, Baling. Courtesy of Asian Arts Theatre

In December 1955, three men met in a classroom in Baling: Ching Peng, leader of the Malayan Communist Party; Tunku Abdul Rahman, Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya and later Malaya’s first Prime Minister; and David Marshall, at the time Singapore’s Chief Minister. Their meeting, known later as the Baling Talks, was an attempt to resolve the Malayan Emergency, the guerrilla insurgency waged initially against the British colonial government and then against independent Malaya. Though the talks ended in failure as the terms of surrender were unacceptable to Peng, understanding what happened over the two days remains important for understanding Southeast Asian and world history.

The Malaysian theater artist Mark Teh became interested in the talks and started presenting documentary and lecture performances based on the transcripts. Baling is the culmination of these years of research and experimentation that began in 2005. Recreating the actual discussions of the participants with the public minutes of the talks, Teh and his performers/researchers examine the process by which the concepts involved with nation-building, such as country/people, loyalty, terrorism, reconciliation, sacrifice, surrender and independence, are endlessly transformed and corrected. Though it deals with contexts highly specific to the emergence of Malaysia and Singapore, the themes of the performance are universal and relevant to all audiences. Co-produced by Kyoto Experiment, Baling premiered at the newly opened Asian Arts Theatre in Gwangju, South Korea, in 2015, and continued to attract international acclaim when it was presented at TPAM in Yokohama in February 2016.