Urban Distortions. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.
Urban Distortions. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.

One of the main arts event of the year, George Town Festival 2015 presents a refreshing array of activities ranging from exhibitions to theatre, dance and more. This year, we can also look forward to activities moving beyond George Town to the Penang mainland and even aboard the ferry service.

Culinary Roots and Communities 

1 – 30 August, 6pm – 10pm, various venues, free admission.

It is hard to visualise Penang without its food. With three events tailored to showcase the rich tapestry of Indian, Hainanese and Peranakan cuisine and its origins, these talks offer a better understanding of the food we have come to love and know.

The Crescent Moon: Sharing the Same Moon

1 – 31 August, 10am – 6pm, Dewan Makam Nordin, Kapitan Keling Mosque, free admission.

Local photographer Mas Mohd Farid Rahman has captured a series of reflective images of Indian Muslim lives in Penang, focusing on the Kapitan Keling Mosque Community and their strong ties to the mosque. Meanwhile, New Zealand writer Adrienne Jansem interviews and documents the lives of Muslims in New Zealand. It is a remarkable opportunity to contemplate the similarities two different Muslim communities have through a shared common belief.

The Crescent Moon: Sharing the Same Moon. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.
The Crescent Moon: Sharing the Same Moon. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.

We Are Artists

1 – 31 August, 10am – 10pm, Little Art House, 90a Lorong Macalister, free admission.

This month long series encompasses an array of workshops, exhibitions, movie screenings, walks and more. Among the highlights are Hello Hide & Seek, a treasure map walkabout in Georgetown where participants will go in search of stickers doodled on by local creatives and artisans. Other interesting things to note are Dance Your Life and Alice & Lucy: The International Travelling Postcard Exhibition.

100% Penang

1 – 2 August, 9pm – 10.30pm, Dewan Sri Pinang, tickets are RM25 – RM125.

Who are the people of Penang? Berlin-based theatre troupe Rimini Protokoll has carefully selected 100 individuals from the local community to represent 1% of the population. Their novel technique of research-based documentary theatre will bring Penang’s city demographics to life.

100% Penang. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.
100% Penang. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.

DA+C: Culturetopia

7 – 16 August, 10am – 6pm, DA+C: Culturetopia, free admission.

Since its inception in 2011, DA+C or the Digital Art and Culture Festival has been fusing new and old, modern and traditional media to showcase the city’s heritage and culture. The event is co-produced by the Sulaiman siblings of DAM Interactive, Suzy and Fairuz. Some of the artists involved are Kamal Sabran, Goh Lee Kwang, bibichun, Anjo Bolarda (Philippines), Wang Ding-Yeh (Taiwan) and Chikara Matsumoto (Japan).

My George Town: Your Stories

7 – 29 August, 7pm – 8.15pm, Narrow Marrow/Ren i Tang, free admission.

15 short films, each one giving voice to the residents of George Town who make up the pulse of the city. Documentary filmmaker OXLAEY examines themes of self-expression, shared common beliefs and the daily grind through a behind-the-scenes look of the town’s craftsmen, hawkers and other personalities. Screenings are held every Friday of the month at Ren i Tang and every Saturday of the month at Narrow Marrow.

Broken Nails: A Marlene Dietrich Dialogue. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.
Broken Nails: A Marlene Dietrich Dialogue. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.

Broken Nails: A Marlene Dietrich Dialogue

8 – 9 August, 8.30pm – 9.30pm, MBPP Town Hall, tickets are RM40 – RM80.

Broken Nails is Polish artist Anna Skubik’s widely acclaimed solo performance portraying the last days of German-American movie star Marlene Dietrich. Anna holds two roles in the play, navigating as puppeteer of the life-sized doll made in Dietrich’s image and as Gloria, Dietrich’s nurse. She is both puppeteer and actress, channeling a skilled performance that examines the co-dependent relationship between Marlene and Gloria.

The Metamorphosis, Android Version

13 – 14 August, 8.30pm – 10pm, USM, Dewan Budaya, tickets are RM40 – RM100.

A modern, futuristic reinterpretation of Franz Kafkas’s acclaimed short story, Metamorphosis, this theatre performance by Japan’s Robot Theatre Project portrays the lead character transforming into an android instead of a hideous insect-like creature. The performance was written by Japanese playwright Oriza Hirata and explores existential questions of self and humanity as the lead and his family adapts to his new identity. 

The Metamorphosis, Android Version. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.
The Metamorphosis, Android Version. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.

Obscura Festival of Photography

14 – 31 August, various venues, free admission.

Obscura Festival returns for yet another year at the George Town Festival. Boasting an enticing lineup that includes the likes of notable photographers such as Diana Lui, Ian Teh, Maggie Steber, James Whitlow Delano and many more, these professionals will be conducting masterclasses, workshops, talks and exhibitions for those interested in the art of photography.

Butterworth Fringe Festival

15 – 16 August, 11am – 10pm, Jalan Jeti Lama, Butterworth, free admission.

The inaugural Butterworth Fringe Festival puts the spotlight on the mainland and the faithful Butterworth Ferry service for the weekend. Comprising a host of events including live performances, pop-up book stores and restaurants, art installations and more, it will be an international affair as artists from Japan to Belgium converge to put on unique shows like Cross Waves & Moving Jetties, Cette Immense Intimité and Urban Distortions.

Am I. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.
Am I. Photo: George Town Festival 2015.

Am I

22 – 23 August, 8.30pm – 9.45pm, Dewan Sri Pinang, tickets are RM25 – RM125.

Director and choreographer Shaun Parker from Shaun Parker and Company weaves a stunning choreography set against composer Nick Wales’ rendition of world music for Am I, an award winning Australian collaboration. This synergy of dance and music is derived from elements of anthropology, biology and cosmology as they attempt to bring forth “am I” as both a question and statement on stage.

Sang Kancil & Tapir

28 – 29 August, 8.30pm – 9.30pm, 29 – 30 August, 3pm – 4pm, Komtar Auditorium A, free admission.

Combining the Sang Kancil, a well-loved character in many Malaysian fables and the Tapir, an animal in danger of extinction across Southeast Asia, this production by Penang’s own ZaoXinChang Theatre Troupe is a tale for both children and adults alike. It revolves around how both creatures form an unlikely friendship by working together. The story will be performed through the use of wayang kulit and Chinese puppetry to encourage an awareness of traditional performing arts while opening up discussions on environment and protection of endangered species.

Find more information on all festival events on the official George Town Festival website and Facebook page.

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