Encore Melaka arts and culture venue forges a new way forward


Pearlly Chua, the veteran of the one-woman play 'Emily Of Emerald Hill', is set to thrill the masses at Encore Melaka, with a series of weekend shows from June to September. Photo: Filepic

The weekend night market on Jonker Street, the Melaka River Cruise and the various historical sites and museums might be the obvious things to mark off the checklist when you visit Melaka.

Those places are some of the most popular tourist spots in Melaka.

Need something new? Why not include the performing arts and live theatre in the equation?

The Encore Melaka theatre complex, which opened its doors in 2018, now offers an exciting line-up of programmes ranging theatre, comedy, pop concerts, classical music and film for local residents and visitors to explore.

This revamp marks an exciting new chapter for the venue. It was closed for more than two years due to the pandemic.

From independent shows to big scale productions, the venue has shown its diversity.

Some upcoming performances ahead include theatre classic Emily Of Emerald Hill (June 25 to Sept 18, weekend shows), with veteran actor Pearlly Chua returning as the quintessential nyonya grand lady in this long-running monodrama,

It is also Encore Melaka’s first English theatre production.

Chua, who has played Emily more times than anyone else, first landed the role in Singapore in 1990. Written by Singapore playwright Stella Kon and directed by Chin San Sooi, this one-woman play, set between 1915 and 1963, has two roles in it: Emily and the audience (as Emily’s friend to whom she confides the story of her life).

Bahasa Malaysia theatre show Tanjong (June 4-6), presented by the community-based Kelab Teater Asar Negri Sembilan, a Chinese concert Tribute To Teresa Teng And Fei Yu-Ching (June 11) and pianist Kok Kee Boon’s recital (June 18) gives the venue a good mix of shows next month.

Attendance has been steadily growing with the more theatre productions tipped to visit this venue.

Last month, Encore Melaka reopened its doors to the public with indie arts collective Orang Orang Drum Theatre’s music and drum show called Mending The Broken Sky. It played to a total of 1,500 people in five-show series. The venue also hosted screenings of indie film Mentega Terbang by Anomalist Production and a Chinese pop music concert.

Theatre to boost tourism

“Sales of the tickets have been on track, and we see a lot of interest in these live shows despite the absence of foreign tourists,” says Datuk Zoe Tan, Yong Tai Berhad’s chief operating officer, the property company that manages the venue.

Originally, Encore Melaka was home to the in-house show Encore Melaka: Impression Series, which told the timeless story of Melaka through a contemporary theatre production.

The performance, which had nearly 500 shows since it opened in July 2018, came to a halt in early 2020 when the MCO was announced. It has been shelved ever since. At press time, no dates have been set for the show to return.

The strategy has now shifted towards a broader range of live entertainment, including art and culture shows. The idea is to reposition Encore Melaka as a notable live performance venue outside the Klang Valley.

It is, arguably, the only state-of-the-art performance venue in Melaka, on par with well-known venues in the Klang Valley such as Istana Budaya, the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre and the Petaling Jaya Performing Arts Centre.

The theatre complex, located in Impression City, Kota Laksamana, offers video projection mapping, multi-stage hydraulic sets and advanced lighting systems. The theatre can host an audience of 2,000.

Situated just outside Melaka’s tourist hub, it also features a 360° rotating audience platform.

“What we actually want to achieve through our diverse programming is to let arts practitioners know that there is a performance venue outside of KL where they can stage their shows.

“But more than that, our aim is to raise people’s awareness about the local performing arts scene and show that Melaka is not just about tourist spots and historic sites.

“Our ultimate dream is to have large scale touring shows like musicals and international acts to use our venue. It will be exciting to see such shows playing in Melaka in the future,” says Wong Yean Jau, Encore Melaka’s marcom manager.

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