Puppets tell story of harmony

  • Metro News
  • Monday, 02 Jul 2018

The preview of The Penang Story at Penang House of Music black box at ICT Mall, Komtar, Penang. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

OMBAK Potehi’s upcoming Kisah Pulau Pinang (The Penang Story) is a tale of love and friendship irrespective of race which shone through turbulent times including the Japanese Occupation.

In order to bring the story to life, the collective group of young people behind Ombak Potehi went around to collect stories and oral histories from locals who lived through that period.

The performances, to be held at Penang House of Music in Komtar, Penang, is the retelling of the stories using the art of puppet manipulation, narration and music to bring the Potehi glove puppet theatre to life before its audiences.

The Penang Story will be performed in two parts, where the first half of the show focuses on the introduction of the multi-racial characters including Chew, a Chinese who married Ah Nya, a Nyonya.

The characters will build up the atmosphere set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with Penang as a bustling trading port while introducing more characters such as Yi, who will be another important character for the story, and Kassim, an Indian Muslim.

The second half is the sequel to the first, set in the period of 1930s as the intensity grows with the foreshadowing of Japanese Occupation.

A play from the Potehi glove puppet theatre enthralling its audience.
A play from the Potehi glove puppet theatre enthralling its audience.

The storyline ratchets up the tension during the Japanese Occupation when locals were subjected to ‘sook ching’ massacres with high death counts during the three-year period from 1942 to 1945 involving the characters introduced in the first half.

Prof Tan Sooi Beng, who is the artistic director and producer, said the production was intended to expose the era of Japanese Occupation where various races had worked and united together against a common enemy.

“It is a challenge to revive the endangered Potehi glove puppet, and we wanted to build on a storyline that the people can relate to whether in the form of traditional stories or based on oral histories.

“By localising the Potehi using multi-ethnic languages, characters, costumes and music, it could be made accessible to various races, class and gender,” she said recently during the performance preview.

The price of the tickets is RM40 (adults) and RM25 (students) per admission.

The performances are scheduled on Aug 18 and 19, both at 4pm. On Aug 26, there will be two shows at 2.30pm and 5pm. Tickets are on sale now.

For reservations, email ticketing@penanghouseofmusic.com or call 04-370 6675 and 010-864 6699 (between 11am and 7pm).

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