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Coinciding with the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the 17th edition of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay’s Pesta Raya – Malay Festival of Arts returns this July! This year, the festival will showcase the rich history of the Nusantara (Malay Archipelago), with a spectrum of programmes set to appeal to everyone from the young ones all the way to the oldtimers and hipsters!

Opening the festival this year on 12th July will be Esplanade commissioned theatre production Alkesah. Written by Zulfadli Rashid and helmed by director Aidli Mosbit, Alkesah (‘as the story goes’) is a reinterpretation of familiar characters from Malay folklore as they come together and interact within the same kampung. A daring adventure story of a reluctant village head Mat Jenin as he embarks on an odyssey, watch the cast of Siti Khalijah Zainal, Jeff Catz, Siti Hajar Gani, Hatta Said, Siti Maznah, Norisham Osman, Shafiqhah Efandi and Muhd Haikal Mohd Jani bring some familiar characters to life at the Esplanade Theatre Studio. Alkesah will also see musical theatre veteran Elaine Chan and renowned vocal coach Babes Conde working for the first time on a Malay production.

Meanwhile, music takes centrestage in the second production opening the festival on 12th July with the first Esplanade commission for a non-ticketed performance over at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. In GhaMuhyi: Melampaui Sempadan Ghazal, watch and listen to contemporary ghazal music as Malaysian ensemble GhaMuhyi and Singaporean groups Sri Mahligai and Orkestra Sri Temasek collaborate to create and play music that pushes the boundaries of traditional Malay music to new heights.

A total of five ticketed music performances have also been programmed for Pesta Raya 2018. For the lovers of powerhouse vocals and Malaysia’s best, watch Malay divas Aishah and Liza Hanim come together to present their greats hits from the 90s to 2000s in Dua Diva, all the way to Sean Ghazi in TARAKUCHA!, as he and Ida Mariana celebrate Malaysia’s musical heritage with songs by the nation’s great composers, artists and songwriters. For more modern hits, watch Singapore-born Kuala Lumpur-based singer-songwriter Imran Ajmain celebrate his first decade in music with a homecoming concert featuring a collection of soulful Malay ballads in First 10 Years and beloved Indonesian pop-rock band GIGI‘s return to the Esplanade Concert Hall for a one night only concert. Finally, electric guitarist Addy Cradle takes audiences on a fantasy adventure through a glorious instrumental rock soundtrack set to stories inspired by Indonesian folklore brought to life by animation and visual art in Transcendence – Legend of Ryu Wuri.

There are free programmes aplenty as well over the four day festival featured throughout the Esplanade’s halls – for the kids, learn about traditional Malay Kuih-muih in Lapis In The City!, or listen to Life! Theatre Award winning actress Dalifah Shahril tell stories of a Magic Sarong at PIP’s PLAYbox, while P7:1SMA presents Dek Hujan, an interactive dance piece exploring movement and narrative in the context of gratitude. Finally, even the hipsters get their day in the sun with the evening’s Pasar Pesta! curated by online shopping hub LalooLalang, a market selling a wide range of traditional handicraft alongside food vendors selling “instagram-able” and unique Malay food items.

With activities for all ages, backgrounds and cultures available, make a date with Pesta Raya 2018 for a look at the best of Malay culture from Singapore and beyond, celebrating both keen traditions and fascinating contemporary arts at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.

Photo Credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Pesta Raya 2018 takes place from 12th to 15th July at the Esplanade. Tickets and full lineup available here  

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