Tag Archives: George Town

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.

 

 

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 Kelvyn Yeang of IndiePG

Get your rock on, boys and girls, for IndiePG, Penang’s very own (and biggest, might I add) independent music festival begins this 25 October for a two-day run at the Performing Arts Centre of Penang, or penangpac! Featuring a line up of indie bands from all over Malaysia, IndiePG is also holding FOUR workshops on the ins-and-outs of music and technologysongwritingrecording, and the all important question – how to forge a career in indie music.

To mark the second installment of IndiePG (the first was just in March 2013, which only shows that Penangites love their indie music and bands, and they want MORE!), PenTAS thought it would be fun to get to know this music festival better. Kelvyn Yeang  is one of the founders of IndiePG and is by no stretch a stranger to the local independent music scene (hint: he part of the acclaimed instrumental progressive band Ocean of Fire). This is what Kelvyn has to say to us.

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Like a boss – Kelvyn Yeang on stage

What is IndiePG exactly and why was it created?

We formed IndiePG to create an organised platform for musicians to network and showcase their original music as well as educate the public and generate interest through talks, workshops and performances up here in the north. There is so much potential for growth in this area up north. Through all that we have done, over time we believe we can generate enough interest from the public, especially the younger individuals from both college and high schools. We have so many talented people here writing great music but without a clue on what to do with them. We want to give them options, and a chance to network with like-minded people, to share and grow together. That’s the environment we hope to create.

How was IndiePG conceptualised? Besides you, who else was part of the team that started IndiePG?

When penangpac first opened, I got a chance to be involved with some programmes. One of which I presented music along klpac’s Ian Chow. Ian is also a champion of indie music and we share a passion for Malaysian original music and its scene as well. We both agreed that it would be a great idea to create a platform for Penang and work along penangpac to make it all happen.

Of course I couldn’t possibly undertake this colossal task myself so I gathered people with a common interest yet with different strengths to form a committee to oversee everything. Currently the team is RaggyEng BokSamwiseLawrence , Wanida, and I.

What is your role in IndiePG?

Call me what you want. Basically I set the direction and create a general plan and set the goals. Then everyone contributes to make it happen.

How was the response to the first IndiePG?

It was great! It went really well. We were especially happy since so many younger students turned up. That to me means a lot. There are just too many events where musicians only play to the other musicians present. We need to generate enough interest if we want people to take local music seriously.

With the second installment of IndiePG taking place within a few months since the first one, do you think in the coming year we will see more than 2 installments of IndiePG?

Who knows? It all depends on funds, manpower and time. I can’t promise or say anything yet but we do have some idea on what we gonna do next year. Also, very importantly, if we could attract sponsors and more contributors we most certainly would be able to make this grow.

What do you look for in bands / musicians for IndiePG? Is there a set criteria to which bands need to fit in order to get picked for the event?

Original music is a must. It’s the Indie musicians that need the platforms most. Other than that, the committee collectively decides. We are not strict with music styles at all. The submissions we get are a smorgasbord of genres. We also make it a point to offer as much variety as we can. You will be able to find everything from ethereal post rock to funk, blues, folk and the other extremes of progressive rock and metal.

Genres are never a problem. Everyone with great music should be given an opportunity to be heard. But that said, we are very strict in making sure the material is safe for the family. There are kids and teachers out there that come to our events, even parents. If we want to create a conducive environment for growth and acceptance, we have to take all these factors into consideration as well. Quality is also a must. If we want to convince people then we got to put the best out there up there on stage.

Are the bands in the line up solely from Penang or is it open to bands based anywhere in Malaysia?

It doesn’t matter. We obviously take a generous number of Penang bands, but largely setting up a platform up here in the north is more important. We take bands from all over.

In terms of platforms, IndiePG provides a much-needed one for new and emerging indie acts and for bands in general in Penang. Is there any plans to take IndiePG to the next level, say in terms of how George Town Festival and George Town Literary Festivals have made Penang a centre for the arts and literature, or even Penang International Jazz Festival for jazz?

Who knows? We are still in our fledgling stage. Hopefully we will one day make enough impact and allow something big to happen.

In terms of support, what could the public do to lend a hand to IndiePG?

Tell your friends. Come to actually check us out. We have even made the workshops free for everyone.Donations and sponsorship and manpower are always welcome as well.

Finally, why should Penangites not miss IndiePG this 25 & 26 October?

Because its relevant and its cool. Its also localised enough to be comfortable for all. Workshops are totally free and we have a totally rocking line up for the showcase with bands like Tempered Mental and Froya.

So, you’ve heard it. Make sure you make your presence felt at IndiePG!

indiepg2

IndiePG takes place at stage 2, penangpac @ Straits Quay (3H-3A-1, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang) on 25 & 26 October 2013. For information on the workshops, check out IndiePG and for ticketing, check out penangpac.