The Esplanade’s Pesta Raya – Malay Festival of the Arts is back this June to once again highlight the varied arts and culture from across the wide expanse of the the nusantara (Malay Archipelago). Held together by the same rooted beliefs and culture, this year’s festival celebrates that diversity and richness from across its heritage, history and people.
Once again coinciding with the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, this 18th edition will see three newly commissioned works headlining the festival. For the first time, the festival has commissioned a piece for the Esplanade Theatre – Fatih – The Prince & The Drum by Nadi Singapura. Directed by acclaimed Indonesian artist Garin Nugroho with a script by Zulfadli ‘Big’ Rashid, this multidisciplinary work tells an original, epic tale of Prince Fatih’s trials and tribulations, through Malay percussion, martial arts, dance, prose and song.
The festival will also be presenting their second co-commission with Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts, with a film-to-stage production of The Seen and Unseen. Based on the critically-acclaimed film of the same name by Indonesian filmmaker Kamila Andini (who is also directing this piece), The Seen and Unseen utilises traditional Balinese dance, live music, song and contemporary theatre to tell the story of the relationship between a pair of Balinese twins. Featuring an all-child cast from Komunitas Bumi Bajra and a cross-cultural creative team from Indonesia, Australia and even Japan, the production will go on to tour to Australia after Pesta Raya.
Pesta Raya 2019 will also present its first ever ticketed and commissioned work for children aged four to seven years old – Teroka! Kerana Nila (Explore! Because of Nila), written by Adib Kosnan and directed by Noor Effendy Ibrahim. This interactive children’s theatre work follows Sang Nila as he befriends mythical creatures on his journey to find home, where young audience members will get to meet a mermaid, a lion, and more as they weather storms together.
Various other local and regional artists will also be present to perform during the festival, including including Syarif, Akeem Jahat, The Jazz Djogets, P7:1SMA and Perkumpulan Seni. Fans of old school Indonesian music can also look forward to Indonesian music diva Hetty Koes Endang and regional indie darlings Hujan and Padi Reborn coming together for a one-night only performance at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Audiences will also be treated to the rare kuda kepang dance at the festival opening on 27th June at the Esplanade Forecourt Garden, with performances of endangered oral/acting/storytelling/music/dance art form Mak Yong happening throughout the weekend.
With 18 years of history behind it, this year’s Pesta Raya seeks to present the ever growing range of Nusantara artistry further still, bringing new work to the stage and new spins on old traditions, always fresh and always exciting, welcoming audiences of all ages, both old and new, to enjoy the festivities and celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri with a dose of arts.
Pesta Raya – Malay Festival of the Arts 2019 runs from 27th to 30th June 2019 at the Esplanade. For a full list of programmes and tickets, visit their website here