George Town Festival returns with packed lineup of shows

Staff members of GTF showing posters of the annual event.

TWENTY types of laksa from all over Southeast Asia will be cooked during George Town Festival (GTF) 2017, and everyone is invited to sample the dishes. 

The gastronomic treat is dubbed Laksa of the Region (LOTR) – the pun in the acronym after the Lord of the Rings trilogy being obvious – and celebrants are invited to sample all the laksa variants and decide which one will ‘rule them all’.

“We invite everybody to tell us what they think is the best laksa in the region,” said GTF director Joe Sidek in a press conference on Thursday.

Another GTF highlight to watch out for is Macallum Theatre.

This is going to be a temporary but faithful replication of a Chinese opera stage upon which artful performances that cut across race and creed will be played.

Its location will be, as its name suggests, in the Macallum Street Ghaut area on the vacant field along Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway where GTF grew padi for last year’s entertainment.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was at the press conference, expressed his excitement for Macallum Theatre.

“The theatre sets the mood for the appreciation of cultural arts within an urban village that has one of the highest population densities in George Town,” said Lim.

Among the GTF specials taking place in Macallum Theatre is a performance by gamelan ensemble Rhythm in the Bronze.

GTF is returning for the eighth year from July 28 to Sept 3.

This celebration of arts, culture and heritage is to mark George Town’s inscription onto the Unesco World Heritage List.

The festival will run together with its satellite event Butterworth Fringe Festival.

The fringe event will feature two days of local and international street acts on Aug 12 and 13.

Joe said the festival would host more than 100 shows with 60% of them being local content from art, design, photography, film, music, dance and drama.

“GTF is the only place here where you can watch world-class shows from as low as RM25,” he said.

He said the festival would open with a weekend of Asean flavours, art, design and sounds.

They include LOTR, which is part of GTF’s Macam-Macam Asean Market, as a testament to Penang’s reputation as a street food haven.

He also highlighted the Svara Asean, a festival paying tribute to Southeast Asian artistes.

The musical tribute features talents such as the Madrigal Singers from the Philippines, Gus Teja from Indonesia, Penang Philharmonic Orchestra, local stars Adibah Noor and Sean Ghazi, and mezza-soprano Anchee from Thailand.

The artistes will be performing on July 28 and 29 at Dewan Sri Pinang.

Joe also said handpicked local dilettante dancers would take to the stage in a dance routine called Gala.

The routine, which has been performed over 55 times worldwide in the past year, is aimed at showcasing the beauty of Penang’s diversity.

Australian acrobatics ensemble Gravity and Other Myths will perform amazing stunts during their show called ‘A Simple Space’ that will get the audience on the edge of their seats.

Also, don’t miss ‘The Italian Restaurant’ dance theatre show.

Director Naohika Umewaka and choreographer Aida Redza will get hearts aflutter about the chance meeting of a woman and a man in a restaurant.

Family-friendly shows include The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik, Chorus, Cosmicomic Toyscape Workshop and Cell.

Joe said this year’s edition would be oriented towards youths, communities and women, with a Week of Women curated in collaboration with ZafigoX to host talks, workshops and a bazaar.

Those interested can visit or for tickets.

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