Category Archives: penangpac

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.

 

 

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.

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.

The Contemporary Dances of cieLaroque Come to Penang

“One of the most touring ensembles of Austrian dance scene”, cieLaroque | helene weinzierl comes to Penang this month with two of their most reputed contemporary dance pieces – 301 3 01 IS IT ME and THINK FISH.

301 3 01 IS IT ME 

IS IT ME is a collaboration between Helene Weinzierl and the talented Salzburgian dancer Yuri Korec in 2013. We can see an artist with his fictional character but it is hard to distinguish the difference between them. Which part of his personality does live in his character: self-doubt or self-love? Which aspects are real?

THINK FISH

In THINK FISH, we can see a couple and feel that they are not in a perfect harmony. It seems to be exhausting, unhealthy, laborious, and somehow it appears to be unpleasant, the harmony is missing. The absurdity reaches a peak when the structures of power collapse and dissolve due to missing or misunderstood communication.

301 3 01 IS IT ME | THINK FISH

Date

8 February 2014 @ 8:30pm

9 February 2014 @ 3pm

Venue

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

Ticketing Information

RM 38 (Adults)

RM 28 (Physically-challenged, Students & Senior Citizens Above 65)

RM 20 (TAS & Senior Privilege Card Holders)

Group Booking: Buy 10 Get 1 Free

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

YKLS.Period: Reworking the sounds of the past

The new year ushers in a time of rejoicing as we begin to chart another year with a clean slate. Resolutions are made to be made, and, yes, some to be broken. Here at PenTAS, we hope you are resolute to catch more performing arts works and to pledge your support (in any form, actually) to the proliferation of the arts. Because what kind of a life would you like to live if the is no place for the arts in it, right?

Well, to kick start you resolution (which we truly hope is to support the performing arts), why not be raptured by a captivating choral performance – YKLS.Period – by the Young KL Singers (YKLS) at penangpac. Taking us on a journey back in time, YKLS.Period revisits vocal music written during Europe’s most flourishing period from the Medieval and Renaissance to Baroque. The sounds of the past are reworked for the modern world, bringing us lute songs and rotas, court dances and madrigals.

ykls
An aural feast that looks magical. Good thing, we say!

The choir will take a retrospective tour of the different schools and styles of vocal music in England, France, Spain and Italy during that era – tying them together in a poetic story, told through song and dance, in period costume and sets. YKLS will explore the fusion of different elements in the performance practice of the music, experimenting with fusions of styles and improvisation, as was the common historical practice of music during that time.

YKLS.Period promises something for everyone and will be a unique experience for audiences here, as they will be treated to a stunning visual and aural feast. It will be a rare chance for audiences to hear and see music from one the most vibrant eras of European history, performed live here in Penang.

 

YKLS.Period

Date

10 – 12 January 2014 @ 8:30pm

11 – 12 January 2014 @ 3pm

Venue

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

Ticketing Information

RM 35 (Adults)

RM 25 (Physically-challenged, Senior Privilege Card Holders, Students & TAS Card Holder)

Preview Night Promotion (10 Jan) : RM 20

Group Booking: Buy 10 Get 1 Free

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

Confessions of a Chorister

By Khoo Wei Cyn

You may think that to join a choir group, you need to be able to sing well from the get-go. That’s got some truth to it, but only to a certain extent. What you really need in a group is the spirit of teamwork. We breathe together. We hit the high notes and low ones together. And we cover for each other when one of us runs out of breath. That’s what a choir is for; we sound good collectively when we can’t on our own.

Choral singing had been my lifeblood since 2010. The weekly practices with the Penang Philharmonic Chorus (PPC) are my panacea from life’s doldrums. Meeting friendly and familiar faces, taking part in the chatter and for two hours, breathing deeply then singing my heart out distracts my mind from trivial tribulations. Over the years, I’ve even learned to like the sound of my voice. I know the flaws in my voice and I appreciate the strengths that I have, experimenting with my breath and vocal articulations wherever I am least likely to embarrass myself.

I’d parted ways with the chorus after Martin Rutherford left. He had been our chorus master before he made penangpac his new “home”. However, the number of chorus members who remained at PPC weren’t enough to perform any major choral works in his absence, and when I heard news that he was appointed chorus master for The Actors Studio Chorus (TASC), I decided to join this new group, hoping to sing more grand pieces such as the Hallelujah Chorus and Zadok the Priest.

TASC was well into Week 6 of practice when I joined them. I had been swamped with Short+Sweet Theatre Festival before that, and between academic studies and my day job, I was stretched thin. Banking on my assumption that most of the carols were the ones I’d sung before at PPC, I hoped I could catch up with the choristers. Then I asked Martin if I could sing with them. The answer was yes.

Although there were many new and strange faces in the chorus, I warmed up to them very quickly. Now they are my new family, even though I hadn’t been looking for a new home. And I love the melody of all the carols! The Cowboy Carol, The First Nowell, Jubilate Domino and Sing Gloria are some of them. But the two songs titled The Holly and the Ivy and the Hallelujah Chorus are my all-time favourites as they feature uniquely polyphonic, contrapuntal music which sound amazing when performed flawlessly with an orchestral backing.

Martin is conducting with his usual emphasis on consonants and synchrony. It’s pronounced “lit-tel”, he keeps reminding us. Don’t sing during the two-beat rest unless you want your name to be in the programme as a soloist! he teases. But after 17 rehearsals, those words don’t faze us anymore. We’re ready to sing our hearts out. We’re ready to draw you into the beauty of choral music. And we’re dead serious about making good music for everybody!

A neophyte to theatre, Khoo Wei Cyn has just survived a thespian’s adventure at Short+Sweet Theatre Malaysia 2013 in Penang. She enjoys writing, reading and appreciating art in all forms. Her latest adventure will see her perform on stage in the The Actors Studio Chorus’s Family Christmas Concert 2013.

choir1
Tickets for Family Christmas Concert 2013 can be purchased at TicketPro or the penangpac Box Office. For reservations or more information, call penangpac at 04-8991722 / 2722. 

 

Family Christmas Concert 2013

Christmas comes to penangpac this season with a whole lot of singing peppered with some ho-ho-hos!

The Family Christmas Concert 2013 will feature The Actors Studio Chorus, which comprises of 70 singers, and Musica Sinfonietta, made up of 35 players. That’s a whopping 105 people coming together to serenade you this season!

Expect to hear Christmas classics such as ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’, ‘Silent Night’ and  ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, as well as Chorus and Orchestra carols such as ‘The Cowboy Carol’, ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ and ‘Four Australian Christmas Carols’.

Martin Rutherford, the Chorus Master of The Actors Studio Chorus, will be conducting the Family Christmas Concert 2013.

Family Christmas Concert 2013

Date

23 & 24 December 2013 @ 8:15pm

Venue

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

Ticketing Information

RM 33 (Adults)

RM 23 (Physically-challenged, Senior Privilege Card Holders, Students & TAS Card Holder)

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

Review: Marrying Me

Tying the Knot? … Not!

By Khoo Wei Cyn

Images courtesy of PenTAS

Everyone has their own notions on what a complete and well-lived life comprises. For most of the older generation, their notion is centred on marriage, which, in part, is the product of our survival instincts for ensuring the continuity of our genetic line. Produced by The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) and Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac), Marrying Me: A New Musical, directed by Christopher Ling, addresses this concept through script, dance and song for four days; from 5-8 December at stage 2, penangpac and 12-22 December at pentas 2, klpac.

Be sure to get your ticket today!
Be sure to get your ticket today!

In the musical, Stephanie (the main character) rebels against tradition and stigma to live a life she wants; freedom from all the problems that come when the “going gets tough” in a marriage. Her idea of normalcy clashes with that of her mother’s (Sandra). For Sandra, the desire to live as a woman in a matriarchal role and having a happy marriage is the normal path where as Stephanie, the NGO fighter for women’s rights, has seen the reality of marriages gone sour. To Stephanie, that reality is normalcy, and she wants to protect herself from that situation by being independent and self-sufficient.

More and more details about Stephanie’s upbringing are revealed as the musical progresses into the second act. We learn that her mother was a victim of an abusive marriage, and Tony, the man whom Stephanie had loved dearly, reminded her of her own father. Determined to never repeat the mistake her mother made, she insists on a life of singlehood but this is thwarted by Sandra’s faked chronic illness, where she makes Stephanie promise to get married in her “dying wish”. Whether she goes on with her promise or not, that you would have to discover for yourself.

Marrying Me is certainly the musical to watch. Its upbeat, snazzy music peppered with doses of comedy and hilarity is brought to life by a spectacular lead actress and a solid cast. I loved the music and the way the lyrics were written, plus the scenes where comic relief was prevalent to break up the sombre mood reflective of Stephanie’s dilemma.

You don’t have to love singlehood to appreciate this musical; I’m sure you can draw some parallels with your experiences about marriage from it. And if you’re single, you may walk away feeling better about staying that way. But no matter who you are, I think that you will enjoy watching Marrying Me as much as I did. What’s not to love about good music, great fun and endearing characters?

*A neophyte to theatre, Khoo Wei Cyn has just survived a thespian’s adventure at Short+Sweet Theatre Malaysia 2013 in Penang. She enjoys writing, reading and appreciating art in all forms.