All posts by PenTAS

Call for Performers

Are you a singer? A musician? A stand-up comic? A spoken word artist? A dancer?

Are you in a band? A sketch comedy group? A dance company? A theatre outfit?

If you are and would like to showcase your talents, why not be a part of penangpac’s FRINGE FESTIVAL from 9 to 11 May 2014 at Straits Quay, Penang?

Take this opportunity to be a part of an exciting weekend celebrating all things performings arts!

To sign up, please email fringe@penangpac.org.Fringe Festival Call for Performers

Review: Shakespeare Demystified’s Hamlet A Performance Lecture

Yasmin Bathamanathan reviews Hamlet A Performance Lecture by Shakespeare Demystified that was on at penangpac from 10-13 April 2014.

“To be or not to be …”

How many a times have we used this famous line from Hamlet without fully understanding its meaning? I remember using this very line in a debate I participated more than a decade ago in school. Sure, it is dramatic, pregnant with existential conundrum in whatever context we deem it be:

Successful – to be or not to be

Happy – to be or not to be

Wedded – to be or not to be

You get the gist.

Yet, only today, at the ripe old age of *ahem* did I find out what Shakespeare meant by that famous line in Hamlet’s soliloquy at Shakespeare Demystified‘s Hamlet A Performance Lecture. You see, in his many philosophical ramblings post-Hamlet the Older’s death, Hamlet the Prince either devices plans to bring his Uncle/Stepfather/Daddy-Murderer to justice or to seek vengeance upon murder of his Daddy (Hamlet, the Dead King @ Hamlet the Older).

However, in this particular soliloquy in the Nunnery Scene, sad puppy Hamlet contemplates suicide. “To be or not to be”, with the emphasis on the verb “be”, which indicates a state of being. In other words to EXIST or NOT TO EXIST @ ALIVE or DEAD. Nothing to do with success, happiness, matrimony or whatever else. “To be or not to be” was a question of “Should I live or should I kill myself”.

Wow! I know, right? If only the 16-year old me knew this. She probably would have known had she had the chance to attend something like Shakespeare Demystified‘s Hamlet A Performance Lecture.

Hamlet, while being one of the greatest plays of Shakespeare, the greatest writer of the entire history of mankind, is also mind-numbingly long. Four-hours long, give or take. Being the guardians of the demystification of Shakespearean sagas, this vagabond (not really; they are based in KL) troupe of Shakespearean fanboys and fangirls from Malaysia have come up with a surprisingly approachable introduction to Hamlet.

Selecting key scenes and events from the play, the cast of Hamlet A Performance Lecture first introduce the scene, give the audience a little background on the context, discuss the motivations behind some of the actions, provide literary criticism on the characters and events, and explain certain terms (who would have thought an innocuous phrase such as “country matters” can have double entendre?).

Five actors – Kien Lee, Anne James, Lim Soon Heng, Marina Tan and David H. Lim – each get to play Hamlet in different scenes besides playing out other characters. Each of them brings something different to the characterisations of Hamlet, giving the audience a somewhat rich and diverse experience. Needless to say, each of them is a delight in their individual portrayal, like Kien Lee’s maniacal Hamlet is cockier and crazier than Anne James’s strong and contemplative Hamlet. 

While it was an enlightening and entertaining for me as an audience to experience a deconstructed performance of Hamlet, the literature student in me was in full awe. The Shakespeare Demystified troupe has a lot more to offer than mere entertainment, and that is education. The two hours spent watching them and listening the discussions during the Q&A session made me come to one conclusion:

WE NEED TO INCORPORATE SHAKESPEARE DEMYSTIFIED (OR ITS CONCEPT) INTO OUR LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE SYLLABUS!

In case anyone from the Ministry of Education Malaysia is reading this, please send this message to your higher-ups:

CALL SHAKESPEARE DEMYSTIFIED TODAY AND START BRAINSTORMING! ASAP!

As for me, I am going to wait and hope that Shakespeare Demystified does not make me wait a whole year for their next production.

 

 

9 Days, 3 Ways to Dance, Butoh and Physical Theatre

Ombak-Ombak Arts Studio and PEARL are collaborating to bring an intensive nine-day workshop in dance, butoh and physical theatre which is open to the public.

Called  9 Days, 3 Ways, this workshop is led by trailblazing Malaysian performance artists – Liu Yong Sean (Dancer + Choreographer), Soonufat Supramaniam (Butoh Artist) and Izzard Padzil (Physical Theatre Artist). Each of the artists will share with the participants their individual emerging methods of performance approach and style.

If you want to:

  • Expand your versatility and flexibility
  • Learn different approaches and strengthen your performance skills
  • Discover your own unique performance identity

then 9 Days, 3 Ways is the perfect workshop for you.

The workshop is divided into 2 parts with the first part including a 3-day x 3hr workshop introduction by each artist:

22 March, 10am – 1pm: Butoh with Soonufat Supramaniam
23 March, 1pm – 4 pm: Dance with Liu Yong Sean 
24 March, 6pm – 9pm: Physical Theatre with Izzard Padzil

Following this would be the intensive workshop lab sessions of the individual artists. Participants are free to choose either one or two artists to follow depending on their personal preference. Allowance is made for participants who want to follow all three artists. The schedule for these five days (24 – 29 March) is as follows:

10am – 1pm: Butoh with Soonufat Supramaniam
2pm – 5pm: Dance with Liu Yong Sean 
6pm – 9pm: Physical Theatre with Izzard Padzil

The second part of  9 Days, 3 Ways includes an Artist Sharing session from 5:30pm – 7.30 pm by the three artists as they share insight into their individual training and creative approach to performance, and present their solo works.

9 Days, 3 Ways will culminate with a Workshop Presentation on March 30 at Komtar Auditorium A where the workshop participants will present the works that they have created with the three artists.

9 Days, 3 Ways

Date

22 – 30 March 2014

Venue

The Whiteaways Studio, Reka Art Space (Sinkeh Hotel), KOMTAR Auditorium A

Fees
RM 50 per workshop
RM 80 for 2 workshops
RM 120 for all 3 workshops

For more information or to register, please contact Hock Kheng and Aida Redza or email pgartslink.pearl@gmail.com

The First International Debut of See/Saw

Rising from devastating aftermath of the earthquake that struck Japan in 2011, one Japanese contemporary dance company turned to art express the mood of the nation.

Nibroll, in their latest work see/saw, explores the themes of life and death. This production, which premiered in Yokohama in 2012, is being staged for the first time outside Japan right here in Penang.

Featuring local dancers from Penang and Kuala Lumpur, see/saw is choreographed by the founder of Nibroll, Mikuni Yanaihara, and is presented in Malaysia by The Japan Foundation.

visual_1402_nssSEE/SAW

Date

22 February 2014 @ 8:30pm

Venue

stage 2, penangpac @ Straits Quay (3H-3A-1, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang)

Ticketing Information

RM 23 (Adults)

RM 13 (JFKL Members, Students, Physically-challenged, TAS Card Holders)

Tickets can be purchased at TicketPro or the penangpac Box Office. For reservations or more information, call penangpac at 04-8991722 / 2722.

Get a load of this Traffic situation

Say It Like You Mean It (SILYMI) – Penang’s very own variety entertainment show – is back again this month with a theme we can all spend hours discussing, TRAFFIC.

TRAFFIC – How does it affect our daily lives? What hilarious traffic situations do we often find ourselves in? Perhaps even a solution to all our traffic woes! So come find out what SILYMI has to say!

TRAFFIC features an interesting line up with the likes of  Penang-born singer-songwriter Zee Ng and Iranian-born violinist Reza Mohammadpour who’d be performing their original music, and poets Gordon Pereira and Mark Walker. Also in the mix is SILYMI’s very own sketch comedy troupe.

SILYMI's sketch comedy troupe
SILYMI’s sketch comedy troupe

Held monthly (usually on the last Sunday of the month), SILYMI showcases local (and some visiting) talents from across  the various segments of the arts. It also normally has an Open Mic segment at the end of the shows, allowing for “undiscovered talents” the chance to showcase their art.

SILYMI S02E02: TRAFFIC

Date

23 February 2014 @ 9pm

Venue

The Canteen @ China House, 183B Victoria St, George Town

Admission is FREE!

 

What is SILYMI?
SILYMI is an art collective of Penang artists, authors, musicians and other performers that is active in George Town, Penang. With the goal of creating, innovating and propagating arts in Malaysia, SILYMI is a talent incubator and think tank for generating creative content, supporting fresh local talent and brining high-quality, home-grown entertainment to Penang and beyond. In addition to the monthly SILYMI @ China House event, SILYMI has performed at the George Town Literature Fest and the Little Penang Street Market. 
Visit facebook.com/SayItMeanItPenang for upcoming events or contact silymi.penang@gmail.com for more information.

PenTAS Exclusive: A Chat with Funnyman Douglas Lim

By Yasmin Bathamanathan
Images courtesy of http://www.douglaslim.com/

My first introduction to Douglas Lim was the much loved Kopitiam. He was adorable, kinda-annoying (in my memory at least) and quite the nice guy. Then I found out he could sing and play the guitar! Oh, I wanted him as a friend (well, I wanted to hang out with the gang of Kopitiam – it was like our own version of Friends, only better and more realistic).

A decade and half later, Douglas has moved on to bigger and better things, in the process creating some really cool funny stuff online and offline as well as flexing his acting chops on stage. I, on the other hand, have yet to find crazy group of friends who hang out and do pretty much nothing. But, I have this the chance of hanging out with Douglas online to bring to you this interview with Douglas on his up-coming stand-up show – Planet of the Apeks.

YB: I just watched your KIA commercials, and I must say they are funny. The humour might be Chinese-centric but they are something all Asians can identify with. Would you say the same applies to the content or concept of Malaysian Association of Chinese Comedians shows? 

DL: Thank you for finding the commercials funny. It’s my hope to introduce comedy to other fields like advertising and education so I’m glad that I’ve achieved some degree of success with the Kia commercials. Yes, the humour MACC does usually cuts across race. Although the 4 of us are Chinese, the first word in MACC is MALAYSIAN and that applies to us too. We are Malaysian first and foremost.

YB: What can we expect from Planet of the Apeks?

DL: Stand-up comedy in English, performed by 4 Malaysians. Because of who we are, the content will also be very Malaysian, involving issues and aspects of which we are all familiar.

YB: How involved are you in the production of Planet of the Apeks? From the poster, it looks like you are the lord and creator and all the other guys have to do is show up and deliver their lines.

DL: It’s actually a team effort. The bit where my name appears throughout the poster was added to fill up empty space. Chi Ho is our main publicist, Jenhan is in charge of graphics and colouring and stuff while Dr. Jason is there in case we get sick. I er…finance the whole endeavour.

YB: Why apek? You guys aren’t all that old, am I right? Or is that a blanket term for Chinese men above a certain age?

DL: It was a play on the title “Planet of the APES”. Apeks was closest.  And I guess all 4 of us do exhibit some form of apek-ness in out behavior.

YB: Personally, what makes you laugh? Do you think Planet of the Apeks will make, say, a 31 year old Malaysian Indian woman get the humour of your Apeks?

DL: As I said, as long as she is Malaysian knows the current issues of Malaysia, she should have no problems understanding and enjoying the show. I think, much more important than race, is the person’s ability to take a joke, laugh at each other and laugh at himself/ herself.

YB: The first time I saw a MACC event poster on my friend’s FB wall inviting his friends to watch the show at penangpac, being the clueless person I sometimes tend to be, I commented something in the vein of “oh, but I don’t understand Chinese, so I can’t watch la”. Needless to say, I kena teruk-teruk from another poster who basically said I was a dumbass for not getting the “English-speaking” clause of MACC. 

The story behind MACC ‘s formation is out there, and you (or your publicist or the person who wrote MACC’s profile) point out that it was born out of you not being in the right hue for Raja Lawak and that you were “convinced that the Chinese can be funny”, leading you to hunt high and low for people like you – Chinese and funny. What I am getting to is that the Chinese are known for their humour, which can be quite slapsticky, crude and very no-holds-barred. Is MACC’s brand of humour anything like that?

DL: That’s a really long question. But I’m afraid I can’t give you a yes/ no answer. Our “brand” of humour is actually just staple stand-up comedy fare. You get anecdotal humour, observational humour, some word play, some funny songs, self deprecating humour, etc…  But we definitely don’t go out of our way to be crude or offend. We just want to make people laugh.

YB: If no, could you elaborate more on that and what does it mean to be a relevant Malaysian comedian in this time?

DL: The comedy “scene” in Malaysia is still at its infancy but is experiencing rapid growth. And it’s nice to see many Malaysians getting into comedy – whether as a stand-up comedian or an Instagram humourists or Facebook joker. Any Malaysian comedian can be relevant as long as you talk about stuff Malaysians talk about among themselves.

YB: When it comes to comedy, is there any line that you would not cross? The reason I ask this is because our local news headlines are starting to sound even more outlandish than the ones The Onion dishes out, making our current reality like a bad B-grade comedy flick. 

DL: You know The Onion? Wow. Guess you’re quite a satire fan. Personally, I think the main problem facing our news agencies is their primary role. I would like to think that the main role of a news agency is to INFORM. In Malaysia, they seem to INFLUENCE more than inform. And the headlines mirror this reality.

YB: In the light of the ludicrous turn the country’s politics and social construct is taking, how do you see the coming future of comedy in Malaysia?

DL: Extremely bright. GOOD things, NICE things, HAPPY things are NOT funny.

YB: Last Question: are you funny because you are Chinese or are you Chinese because you are funny? Why do you say so?

DL: Neither. I really don’t think race has anything to do with “funny-ness”. I guess I have an obsession in always looking for the funny angle in everything. I thoroughly enjoy teasing out laughs from people. Being a “clown”.

YB: Before we end, I have to admit I have always found you adorable. I believe I was in Form 3 when I first saw you on Kopitiam. The fact that your little videos and skits are relatable and outright funny just makes it all the better. This is going up as one of my dream-interviews.

DL: Thank you. Your questions were definitely not the usual ones I’m used to getting. Hope to see you at the show in Penang.

Yasmin Bathamanathan is a published writer, produced playwright and director based in Malaysia. Her script, “We Were Made Fools”, won the Best Script at the Short + Sweet Theatre Festival (Penang) 2012. She also made her directorial debut at the Festival with “Somnus” which won the Best Male Actor award. An avid supported of performing arts, she is also the founder of this blog, PenTAS.

Make a date with Ksatriya

Ksatriya – the multifaceted Penang-based artist – has a heartfelt proposition for you.

Let’s meet up.

I think art and music have become too divorced, too removed from the connection between artist and audience, performer and fan.

There are too many celebrity superstars, walled off from their listeners by bodyguards and photoshop and barrier walls.

How can you put a beat to the lives of people on the street, if you do not walk among them?

Let’s meet up. Let’s enjoy the music together. And let’s sit and talk after.

I want to perform for you on the 16th at The Canteen At ChinaHouse. Come enjoy the show, and let’s chat over beers (or a non-alcoholic beverage if you prefer).

#RED will be available on sale with a special discount, and signed copies for free, specially for some lucky fans.

See you there.

If you have been away Penang or so happened to have spent the past year or so without access to the internet, allow PenTAS to school you a little on this phenomenon known as Ksatriya.

Introducing Ksatriya
Introducing Ksatriya

For one, besides being a poet, a songwriter and a performer, he is pretty much an all around stand up kind of a person. He flirts with controversy, very much in the vein of a budding activist, and like any decent activist, he has a manifesto.

Calling his debut EP his manifesto, Ksatriya’s Red is quite a breath of fresh air. It blends genres as varied as World Fusion, Rap, Spoken Word, Blues, Hip-Hop and Rock, and each of its eight tracks feature Ksatriya’s vocals, be it in the style of spoken word, blues poetry or rap.

What sets Ksatriya apart from his contemporaries are his songwriting and versing that reflect the life average Malaysian young and young-at-heart adults regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality and football allegiance.

With such a lovely invitation, how could one resist spending some time with the charming Mr Ksatriya.

Ksatriya Live 

Date

16 February 2014 @ 9pm

Venue

The Canteen @ ChinaHouse, 153 Beach Street, 10300 Georgetown

The Rise of the Apeks

If you happened to watch the recent KIA commercials directed by funnyman Douglas Lim and enjoyed them as much as the average Malaysian, you  might, just might, like his latest venture – Planet of the Apeks.

Part of the much talked about comedy troupe – Malaysian Association of Chinese Comedians – Planet of the Apeks features other comedic gems besides Lim.  Sharing the stage with the seasoned comedian are Kuah Jenhan, Phoon Chi Ho and Dr. Jason (real doctor, not a fictional one like Dr House or Dr Phil).

Performed in English, Planet of the Apeks is a through-and-through Malaysian stand-up comedy show. Expect hilariously acute observations, personal anecdotes, exaggerated theories and ridiculous song parodies, which the four Apeks are said to deliver with a heavy dose of Apek-ness.

Oh, if you are wondering what is an Apek, apek loosely translates to ‘uncle’ in Chinese and is used when addressing older men in Malaysia, especially Chinese men. So, if you are still in the CNY mood and are what the society deems as a “matured” human being, why not come get a dose of the Apeks this February.

PLANET OF THE APEKS 

Date

14 & 15 February 2014 @ 9pm

Venue

stage 1, penangpac @ Straits Quay (3H-3A-1, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang)

Ticketing Information

RM 53 for all

Tickets can be purchased at TicketPro or the penangpac Box Office. For reservations or more information, call penangpac at 04-8991722 / 2722.