Learning from The Bard

Students in Nilai U’s Theatre and Acting module attempt Shakespeare.

Nilai University (Nilai U) believes in providing various opportunities to its students to learn essential soft skills, believing these to be as important as paper qualifications, in shaping undergraduates into well-rounded individuals who are both academically proficient and socially confident. This is done by offering university modules which are not related to the core field of study. Students can opt to do Dale Carnegie’s Skills for Success module to learn effective communication skills as well as proper corporate etiquette.  Outward Bound’s Survival Skills course is aimed at building confidence as well as teaching students the importance of team work. 

One of the most popular modules is the Introduction to Theatre and Acting module, which is coordinated by veteran thespian, Mano Maniam. He has often joked that the module’s popularity has to do with the fact that there are no text books but it is apparent that it goes way beyond that. Ask any student who has undergone Mano’s   tutelage and chances are they will gush about their new found confidence and what an eye-opening experience it has been.

Students in this module are graded on an end-of-term play, which they must write, direct, produce and stage. This semester, Mano decided to up the ante by challenging students to do Shakespeare. There were three vignettes  with Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet bookending an original piece called Kidnap. Though alien to the works of the Bard, the actors did not let their nervousness get the better of them as they boldly told the story of the three witches and General Macbeth who murdered his way to the throne of Scotland. While the students stayed loyal to the original script for Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet was given a fresh, new twist by localising the dialogue. The protagonists had their declarations of love suitably coloured with plenty of colloqiaulisms and even added a dash of current political satire into proceedings. 


The sole original play – Kidnap – told the story of young men driven to desperate measures to make ends meet and how their nefarious plans end in tragedy. Mano explained that this term instead of having his students devise original pieces, he decided to give the class a fresh twist by introducing the students to the works of The Bard. “One of the principal aims of this module is to introduce students to the arts and culture,” explains the jovial actor. “I hope that having staged these plays, both the actors and audience are inspired to go find out more about the works of William Shakespeare.”

Nilai U believes in providing the ‘Total Student Experience’ where students are given plenty of opportunities to broaden their horizons through new and exciting courses. This Is part of the process of producing outstanding well-rounded graduates who are highly sought after. For more information, please go to www.niali.edu.my or call 06-8502308 / 07-2262336. 


Cast form the Thetare and Acting class celebrate the successful staging of their play with their mentor, Mano Maniam (fifth from left, centre row).