A 45 minute live performance in the heart of Chew Jetty presents the history of the jetty settlers, their culture and lifestyle in a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable fashion.
The purposely-built theatre opened in November 2018, is well-air conditioned and has raked seating for about 50 people. Three talented and energetic young actors act out the story charmingly almost entirely in Hokkien, with English and Chinese subtitles on the screen behind them. The screen is also used for short video clips, adding real historical perspective.
The performance takes the audience though the history of the Chinese emigration, the settlers’ arrival in Penang, the construction of the clan jetties, the trades each clan specialised in, life during and after World War II, Merdeka, and up to the present day.
Customs and rituals common in the Clan jetties, such as weddings and the Hungry Ghost festival, are acted out. The dialogue includes Hokkien nursery rhymes and proverbs. Two of the actors portraying elderly jetty residents trying to explain rituals to the younger generation brings gales of laughter from the audience.
The drama continues with a fire burning down one of the neighbourhoods, jetties being demolished for development purposes, youngsters moving away and losing touch with their roots, to the lifeline thrown out by the Unesco World Heritage listing of George Town including the Clan Jetties in 2008.
Founders Chan Kok Leong and Chew Siew Pheng, whose brainchild Folklore by the Sea was, and who built the theatre in their Chew family home, come onstage at the end and chat with the audience about the ongoing dilemma on living in a Clan Jetty – the joy and pressure of living in an area where 70% of your neighbours are related to, the cost of maintaining houses which are constantly battered by the sea, and the urgent need to preserve the stories that have been passed down through the generations, which was their inspiration for this show.
Our Clan Jetties, at Folklore By the Sea Theatre, 59a Chew Jetty, will be performed on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th at 2pm, 4.30pm and 7.30pm. From January 10th shows will take place every day at 3pm and 6pm. Tickets cost RM 35 (RM 18 for children). Reserve in advance by contacting Ms Chew at 011-6246 2884 or via their Facebook page.
In addition, there are Storytelling sessions in the same location, Monday-Wednesday at 1.30pm and 4.30pm. The cost is RM 18 for adults and RM 10 for children.