Ombak-Ombak Art Studio is a collective of multi-ethnic artists and producers who mount contemporary performances projecting Malaysian identity and creativity. One of their most popular productions, Kisa Pulau Pinang (the Penang Story) debuted last year at George Town Festival. This year it is back again in case you missed it,  and with a second part in case you didn’t! The two instalments will be put on consecutively so that we follow the three main characters from their arrival in Penang, through the Japanese invasion and into their lives afterward

The piece is designed to revitalise traditional street performances and traditional Hokkien Potehi glove puppetry while showcasing Penang’s diversity and rich history with local costumes, multiethnic languages and live folk music.  Kisah Pulau Pinang describes the vibrancy of life in George Town in the early 20th Century, with the many festivals and secret societies in the multicultural environment but doesn’t shy away from the darker elements of the regions history, such as the Japanese invasion. A tale of love and friendship in multiethnic Penang set in the old days, four friends of different backgrounds tell us about the lively spice trade, street festivals, pilgrims listening to talks at the mosque, ships docking at the jetty, secret society fights and dancing at the amusement parks. 

The show is thoroughly researched in order to give an accurate idea of what life was like, with the creators looking at old records but also asking grandparents and relatives for their own memories which results in a more personal touch. The vast array of multicultural costumes, for example, are all meticulously designed and made based on old photos. The performances are brought to life by the incorporation of live music, including traditional Malay folksongs.

Kisah Pulau Pinang will be performed at the Penang House of Music, on Level 4 of Komtar, on the 18th and 19th of August at 4:00PM and on the 26th of August at 2:30 and 5:30PM. More information can be found here and tickets can be reserved either by emailing or calling 04-3706675 / 010-8646699 between 11AM and 7PM.

By Ella Benson Easton