Our People

Dato’ Faridah Merican – Executive Producer & Co- Founder

Known as the First Lady of Malaysian Theatre, Faridah’s early acting credits include such plays as ‘Lela Mayang’, ‘Tok Perak’, ‘Uda dan Dara’ and ‘Alang Rentak Seribu’, works that defined the Malaysian theatre in the 60s and 70s, and determined the direction that theatre would take in the next few decades. In the early 60s, she joined Radio and TV Malaysia. Simultaneously, she was involved in the formative years of Malaysian Advertising, and is today, a member of the board of directors of Ogilvy & Mather. She also sits on the board of several other institutions.

In 1989, Faridah co-founded The Actors Studio with her husband Joe Hasham. In June of 2003, floods destroyed the entire complex of The Actors Studio in Plaza Putra, Dataran Merdeka. Out of that devastation, Faridah’s ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude generated yet another ground-breaking event – the birth of The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, set up by the YTL Group, Yayasan Budi Penyayang and The Actors Studio.

Faridah Merican was awarded the BOH Cameronian Lifetime Achievement Award for 2004. In July 2005, Faridah was conferred the ‘Darjah Dato’ Paduka Tuanku Ja’afar’ by the Yang Di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan on the occasion of His Highness’ 83rd Birthday. In August 2006, she received an Honorary Master of Letters at University Sains Malaysia’s 35th Convocation. Faridah is also the Executive Producer and co-founder of the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac).

Joe Hasham OAM – Artistic Director & Co- Founder

Joe was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, did his schooling in Sydney, Australia, moved to Malaysia in 1984 and is now a proud permanent resident of his adopted country. Joe is Artistic Director of The Actors Studio, which he set up with his wife Faridah in 1989 and also Artistic Director of The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre. Joe is a graduate of NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) at the University of NSW, Sydney, Australia. Before he made the decision to come to Malaysia, he was one of the most sought after actors in Australia. Joe is a multi award winning film director, actor, writer and recording artist.

Joe was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), within the Australian Honours System “For Service to the performing arts through The Actors Studio (Malaysia) and The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre; and, as an actor, writer, producer and director”. He is also the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac).

klpac Resident Directors

In line with its aim to nurture young talent, klpac runs a residency programme giving young talents a safe space to hone their skills and craft. We started with just one full-time director as part of the programme, Gavin Yap. Since then, the programme has expanded and klpac boasts resident directors specialized in their individual artistic fields such as Mark Beau de Silva and Lex Lakshman Balakrishnan .

The residents are charged with presenting a wide range of performances and activities. They also run courses at our Academy. All  residents are also actively involved in our Community Outreach programme, bringing the arts to the underprivileged.

Mark Beau de Silva – Resident Director / Writer

Mark Beau de Silva has been working in the arts since 2001, first as a stage manager, then writer and director with The Actors Studio. He has written several plays and musicals over the years including Stories for Amah, Oh My God, Big Head Potato Head and most recently Marrying Me. He is currently teaching children and teens drama at The Actors Studio Academy and is pursuing his Masters in Performing Arts.

Lex Lakshman Balakrishnan – Choreographer in-Residence

A graduate from ASWARA, Lex loves to create dance, fusing traditional and contemporary elements in his works. He was the choreographer for klpac’s Kaki Blue and The Actors Studio’s Adam the Musical. Besides these, he can also be seen on stage as an actor, dancer and singer and was awarded the Bintang Irama 1Malaysia in 2010. Currently, he is klpac’s choreographer-in-residence. www.ababilaswad.blogspot.com

Dr. Takahisa Ota,Resident Conductor & Music Director,klpac Orchestra & String Ensemble

Ota-san, as he is affectionately known, started studying the flute in 1965 and he has studied under Japanese Professor Masao Yoshida and Takeshi Koizumi. He joined Waseda University Orchestra, which won the Grand-Prix at World Amateur Orchestra Competition organized by famous Hervert von Karajan in Germany. He was also the trainer at Shin-Symphony Orchestra and was attached to several other orchestras in Japan as principal flautist as well as orchestra trainer. In Malaysia, he was resident conductor of National Symphony Orchestra from 1993 to 2000, and Musical Advisor to the same orchestra from 2006 to 2008 (sponsored by Japanese government-JICA).

Cheryl Mah, Resident Conductor & Music Director, klpac Symphonic Band

Cheryl Mah graduated from Elder Conservatorium of Music (Australia) with concurrent majors in Piano Performance and Music Education. She then completed Performance based Master Degree in Conducting and Directorship from Salford University (England, UK) under tutelages of Dr. David King and Dr. Roy Newsome, specializing in Brass Band Conducting.

As a music educator, she has been actively involved in conducting, lecturing, tutoring in local universities, school band camps and festivals, and as well adjudicating for local band competitions. Since 2008, she has been a part-time faculty member at UCSI University Music Department as Orchestra Conductor, where she conducts UCSIU Orchestra in regular concert performances, repertoires ranging from Bach to Prokofiev.

Cheryl was invited to represent the country in participating SEA Young Conductors’ Workshop (2009/2010) in Salaya Thailand, which jointly organized by Goethe-Instituts and College of Music, Mahidol University.

Apart from being active as band/orchestra conductor, Cheryl has played with various ensembles as Baritone Saxophonist -PJ Youth Symphonic Band, Greg Lyons Nonet. She is the co-founder of Birdian Saxophone Quartet and has performed extensively with the quartet in various occasions. Their recent concert appearance at klpac Pentas 2 “Simply the Original” featuring original literature for saxophone quartet was well-received.

Cheryl is currently Band Director of Confucian Symphonic Band, Assunta Symphonic Band, and has recently appointed as Band Director of klpac Symphonic Band. She is as well a woodwind/piano tutor based in the Klang Valley.