Arts Preview Theatre

Preview: Pesta Raya 2023 by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

With the end of Hari Raya comes another special event in May – the Esplanade’s annual Pesta Raya – Malay Festival of Arts. Running from 18 – 21 May 2023 at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Pesta Raya 2023 celebrates and presenting the best of the arts in the Nusantara, thought the art of stories.

One of the oldest art forms, storytelling is a powerful tool that is used to preserve and share memories, culture and tradition. With Pesta Raya, get ready for a line-up of programmes centering around stories that keep the rich culture of the Nusantara alive.

On the theatre front, Teater Ekamatra will be restaging Johnny Jon Jon’s play Potong. First staged in 2018, Potong presents the story of a Singaporean Malay-Muslim son as he struggles with family, identity and culture. Directed by Mohd Fared Jainal and starring Aisyah Aziz, Farah Ong, Irsyad Dawood and Jada, Potong explores themes of masculinity through the quintessential rite of passage of every Singaporean Malay-Muslim son: circumcision.

Air Da Tohor (The tide is low) is a vernacular expression used by the orang laut / orang pulau to call for attention to low tides when fishing. Just as intertidal zones reflect where the ocean meets the land, in low tides more can be seen and revealed in life below water.  In Air Da Tohor, Firdaus Sani and Asnida Daud, both descendants of Orang Laut/Pulau communities, explore the traits, energy and willpower of the people of the islands through spoken word, storytelling and movement.

In Jalinan Kusam Di Lemari Sosi: Pieces of Reminiscence, Indonesia’s Flying Balloons Puppet uses intricate puppetry to tell the story of an old woman living in her own mind and memory. As she searches for her keys, she unearths scattered memories and dreams buried in drawers, recognising the social constructs that have shaped her into who she is today. What would she have changed, if she could? How she was raised, the work she did, her life partner—what of the social pressures that lead her to make those choices?

YouTube and podcast personality KC Champion’s immersive and spine-chilling Malam Seram Lagi Seram will thrill horror fanatics, with horror stories written by KC himself that will not only scare you, but also have you on the edge of your seat waiting for more.

Music is often a bearer of a culture’s stories and in Simfoni Keroncong Nusantara by Orkestra Melayu Singapura, we celebrate keroncong, the melodious and soulful music genre that is unique to the Malay Archipelago, with classic favourites like Jali-JaliBengawan SoloSayang Di Sayang as well as interpretations of pop favourites that have been given the unique keroncong touch.

In addition, Malaysia’s dazzling R&B darling Dayang Nurfaizah and renowned Indonesian indie outfit Efek Rumah Kaca will both mark their longawaited return to Singapore. Dayang Nurfaizah needs no introduction, with unprecedented success with her album Belagu, which won multiple awards at the recent Anugerah Industri Muzik 2023 (AIM23), and is set to present a one-night-only showcase of her signature soulful and sultry vocal stylings.

Efek Rumah Kaca, whose name translates to ‘the greenhouse effect’, has a unique sound made distinct through the voice of lead singer and guitarist Cholil Mahmud, whose pristine and haunting vocals soar through each record. Despite the sombre nature of their music and lyrics, their live shows are always brimming with energy thanks to loyal fans who faithfully sing-along to every song.

Look out for well for the festival’s free programmes, from Awang Batil, the last living practitioner of the traditional form of storytelling, and Anggerik Temasek Bangsawan, which explores the legacy of bangsawan . The storytelling continues online with a presentation of specially commissioned short films by Malaysian film directors, Yusry Abd Halim, Sharifah Amani and Junad M. Nor. There will never be enough stories to tell of an entire culture, but at least if you come on down to Pesta Raya 2023, you’re sure to find, hear and learn about something personal, heartfelt and powerful.

Pesta Raya – Malay Festival of Arts runs from 18th to 21st May 2023 at the Esplanade. Tickets and full programme available here

2 comments on “Preview: Pesta Raya 2023 by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

  1. thank you very much.


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