Plastic City - A Shadow Play To Promote Zero Waste 1

Plastic City – A Shadow Play To Promote Zero Waste

Plastic City – A Shadow Play To Promote Zero Waste

On the, the counter race to reflect 160,000 plastic bags used per second worldwide.

If placed one after another this plastic chain will go around the world seven times every hour and cover an area twice the size of France.

The average Malaysians are unaware.

Top plastic items that people wrongly think can be recycled

  • Hand soap pump dispenser tops
  • Cling Wrap
  • Non-paper gift wrap
  • Coffee cups
  • Bubble Tea Cups
  • Plastic bags
  • Single-use plastic bags
  • Plastic Cutlery
  • Tissues Wrapper
  • Drinking Straws
  • Snacks packets
  • Shampoo bottles and food containers that have not been rinsed
  • Tissue boxes where the plastic insert has not been removed
  • Plastic toys

Facts: The items not recyclable also are nondegradable and end up in landfills and pollute the seas.

Most bags are simply thrown out. These convenient bags are made from Polyethylene that takes centuries to degrade.

World wide, we humans use 100 million tons of plastic every year. Some 10 percent of this plastic ends up in the oceans with dire consequences.

The play shows the story of this plastic soup.

Plastic bags break down in tiny indigestible pieces and at eaten by fish.

Consequently, the plastic builds up and enters into the food chain.

Hundreds of fish, turtles, seals, sea lion, sea birds, and even whales have died eating the plastics.

In 2008, 22.2 kilos of plastic were found in the stomach of a whale found that died in California (USA).

Alarming studies have shown the migration of these plastic bags which their way to the “Great Pacific garbage patch” and literary become a plastic soup. 

Plastic City - A Shadow Play To Promote Zero Waste

Plastic ends up in the oceans with dire consequences.

What is Plastic City?

Reka Art Space’s (RAS) initiative shadow puppetry performance’ Plastic City’ tells a poignant tale of the hold plastic has on everyday life.

The play uses actual materials that others have thrown away. This rubbish is collected and infused with each other to form the sets for the play.

Torn and dirty packaging for food and items are picked up by the crew from the seaside or dumps around George Town.

  • plastic bags
  • mineral bottles
  • plastic sheets
  • garbage bags
  • balloons
  • plastic packaging for eggs
  • food containers

These are washed and cleaned and used. The objects speak their inner voices out.

The young artist is committed and passionate to use a silent storytelling method of a shadow play to draw the audience into the movement.

Plastic City - A Shadow Play To Promote Zero Waste

Poignant imagery of a turtle trapped in a plastic bottle.

How can we better protect our planet?


Time to take a stand against unwanted extra materials in our daily lives. 


When you shop, whether it is unwarranted packaging, unwanted food garnishes, or straws in drinks or any other unexpected ‘extras’.


We need to make a point of refusing materials that are frequently added to the items we buy every day.


It is the culture of careless usage of single-use plastics that need to be addressed. 

‘Initiate, Develop, Perform’ movement

Plastic City is part of the ‘Initiate, Develop, Perform’ movement by RAS that aims to provide a platform for young artists to lead and develop their performances.

The 45-min shadow play is non-verbal and suitable for children as young as four years old accompanied by their parents.

The four young passionate puppeteers are at the forefront to bring shadow play internationally.

Plastic City’s Puppeteers

Artistic director and puppeteer, Tan Lay Heong’s recent theatrical work, shadow puppetry, ‘Sang Kancil & Tapir’ was in 2015. Her love for recycled items and waste materials is often utilized in her artwork as she has a strong interest in installation art and painting which she shares to promote intangible cultural heritage to local youth.

Director, puppeteer, and actor, Goo Zhuan Xuan’s has an apprenticeship on Potehi (Chinese Glove Puppetry) and has performed widely in the Kakiseni Arts Exchange Program 2013 touring different states in Malaysia and performed at the Hamedan International Children’s Theatre Festival in Iran.

‘Plastic City’ was performed in Penang, Macau, and Taiwan

In July 2016, Goo and Tan were invited to Macau by Ox Warehouse to conduct a 3-week long Shadow Play Workshop for children.

Evonne Ch’ng Yee Von’s involvement in theatre started at 14. Her interest in the mixed media children theatre ‘Sang Kancil’ fires up her curiosity in manipulating shadow puppets.

Low Zhi Kai started his involvement in theatre productions started in 2010.

Ch’ng and Low started their exploration of puppetry from their apprenticeship with Teo Chew Iron-Rod Puppetry.

This performance incorporates traditional “Wayang Kulit” and contemporary experimental presentation which jumps out of the box of ordinary black and white shadow play.

The concept of the performance begins with the audiences’ reflection and thought on the relationship between humans and Earth and explores the coexistence of humans and nature.

Environmental issues are universal.

We need environmental theatre such as this.

Positive feedback was recorded from the audience that ranged from an eye-opener to ways educate young kids on the recycling/reuse concept.

The Main Characters in Plastic City

The story uses two main characters, a little fish and a turtle as the voiceless victims to tell the story. Many of the audience felt that it was a good way to teach young children how to protect the earth in a very entertaining way.

Foo May Lyn who watched the performance said that “Plastic City” should continue for a few more runs. The powerful performance was impactful.

Plastic City - A Shadow Play To Promote Zero Waste

A turtle and a little fish become friends in the performance of Plastic City.

Audience Feedback on Plastic City

“I’m grateful to see this genre. The show influences and impacts people positively,” said Doris Hafner.

Ian Kerr said the way forward is to publicize the need to limit the use of plastic.

At best, the directors and players have opened up the eyes of the audience.

Voiceless creatures are slowly being poisoned.

Like the “Adamantium” that slowly poisons an unknowing Wolverine in the movie “Logan”; we too are slowly dying from our evolution.

Plastic City - A Shadow Play To Promote Zero Waste

The audience tries their hand “playing” with the puppets after the performance of Plastic City at PenangPac, Straits Quay, George Town.

This story was previously published in the defunct Malaysia Outlook.

Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!