Few are the people who do not know Ipoh. With its colonial-era buildings, local cuisine, family-owned shops and walking paths, Ipoh Old Town is iconic.
But how well do we actually know Ipoh? What makes Ipoh unique?
The Other Festival (TOF) 2015 sets out to do just that, giving Malaysians the chance to discover the historic city anew.
Organised by Kakiseni, with support from the Perak government and Tourism Perak, the inaugural festival will take place over three weekends from Oct 22 to Nov 8.
Aptly themed “Mapping The City”, the festival is all about celebrating the history, food, arts - and most importantly - people of Ipoh through curated trails, guided tours, bazaars, performances and more.
With city-based festivals like the recently concluded Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival and the George Town Festival, it just seems right that Ipoh has its own festival.
The city is rich with stories, history and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. There is something – ticketed shows, free events and food trails – for everyone. The central attraction of the festival is most definitely the series of trails curated by local personalities like Patrick Teoh and Bernice Chauly, affording participants an intimate encounter and discovery of the city.
You get to meet and mingle with the people who live in or run their businesses there and discover the stories that lie behind popular landmarks.
You can also embark on your own trail around Ipoh with Abby Latif’s interactive trail book, where you can record your experience through drawings, writing and any other mode of expression that suits you.
If playing Indiana Jones is not your thing, the festival boasts an impressive line-up of literary events, including book launches, a writing workshop or Liyana Dizzy’s #GeraiPuisiSegera, where she will turn three selected words into a poem within minutes.
Don’t be overwhelmed by TOF 2015’s content. We have selected five highlights for you to get started.
14, Leech St Trail with Bernice Chauly
Nothing gets more personal and intimate than the trail with author, poet, filmmaker and actor Bernice Chauly. Follow her along the old Leech Street, now known as Jalan Bijih Timah as Chauly recalls stories from the Japanese Occupation and the 1960s all the way to the 1980s. The trail draws upon the childhood memories captured in her award-winning memoir, Growing Up With Ghosts.
The subject of the memoir is her parents’ story of forbidden love, who fought against all odds to get married and her father’s untimely death. Chauly will perform excerpts from the memoir when the trail ends at 14 Leech Street, the address of her grandfather’s butcher shop.
Date: Oct 31 and Nov 1. Venue: 14 Leech Street. Time: 10am and 4.30pm (both days)
Ascent: These Memories Were Made For Walking
As the title suggests, there’s a lot of walking involved in this site-specific offering by theatrethreesixty. Written by playwrights Nandang Abdual Rahman and Ariff Kamil, with excerpts from Benjamin Yeoh’s Yellow Gentlemen, and directed by Christopher Ling, this immersive performing arts trail brings you on an emotional journey.
Weave yourself through tales of love, despair, struggles and existence in these recollections of the past. The performances will take place in guided tours of 15 persons and begin at the historic Hakka miners’ club Han Chin Pet Soo.
Date: Oct 29 to Nov 1. Time: 7.30pm, 7.45pm, 8pm, 8.30pm, 8.45pm, 9pm and 9.30pm
Presented by Japan’s Cheeky*Park, this multi-disciplinary act promises to offer an exhilarating experience for audiences. Tackling the work-life balance of Japanese salarymen, the ensemble, which consists of actors, musicians and circus and street performers, will tell this very familiar tale using dance, pantomime, juggling, acrobatics and aerial acts. Expect to be blown away with the power of physical theatre.
Date: Oct 23 and 24. Time: 9pm. Venue: Parking lots behind Han Chin Pet Soo. Free admission
Negaraku: A Love Song
Do you know the origins of our national anthem? Who wrote the words of the song that all of us sang for years during morning school assembly? What about the tune? And why was it so important to have our very own anthem?
The search for our national anthem makes an amazing story, leading us to England, America, to the Seychelles and as far back as 18th century France. Presented by composer/music historian Saidah Rastam. Embark on an hour-long journey of discovery with songs and stunning visuals.
Date: Oct 25. Time: 2pm. Venue: Sepaloh Art Centre
Buku Fixi book launch for Hungry In Ipoh and Hard Core
The same people who brought location-specific anthologies KL Noir, Love In Penang and Lost In Putrajaya bring us another anthology, now set in Ipoh.
Titled Hungry In Ipoh, the compilation of 15 short stories by local writers celebrates the diversity of the city. Keeping to the essence of pulp fiction, the stories revolve around locals and outsiders and their connection to the city.
Joining the launch will be Hard Core by Megat Ishak. This collection of 13 short stories throws in everything it could when it comes to splatter-horror: machetes, tentacles, plastic surgery gone wrong and even children’s birthday parties. Nothing is more horrifying than children in a horror story. Join Buku Fixi as they launch the two books.
Date: Oct 24. Time: 2pm. Venue: Sepaloh Art Centre
For details, visit The Other Festival 2015: Mapping The City on Facebook for event updates and schedules.