Cultural ties that bind two cities

  • Metro News
  • Friday, 05 Jul 2019

Yeoh (third right) and organisers of the Isle to Isle programme promoting the event in Komtar, George Town.

THE George Town Festival (GTF) 2019’s Isle to Isle programme will connect Penang and Taiwan with dynamic content and intriguing cultural performances.

Its series of curated programmes from July 18 to 21 are anchored in everyday life, giving festival-goers easy access to the arts through familiar subject matter.

Held for the second year, Isle to Isle is a collaboration between the GTF, Taipei’s Department of Cultural Affairs and local magazine Penang City Eye.

Penang tourism development, arts, culture and heritage committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin described it as ‘not your average cultural exchange’.

“It is also a platform to highlight dying traditional artforms and the struggles they are facing,” he told a recent press conference in Komtar.

Yeoh highlighted the example of Taiwanese glove puppetry, which he encouraged the public to experience in two family-friendly Glove Puppet Shows presented by the Taipei Puppet Theatre.

The first, ‘Mayhem in the Crystal Palace’, takes place on July 20 and utilises special props to recreate a captivating underwater world with adorable marine animals.

‘The Rescue of Chen Xiang’s Mother’ on July 21 brings to life a segment from the traditional Chinese folklore Lotus Lantern through masterful hand movements.

Both shows run from 3pm to 4.30pm at Auditorium A in Komtar. The troupe will also be conducting puppetry workshops from 5pm to 6pm on both days at the same venue.

Participants will not only have the opportunity to be puppeteers, but also learn about the skills behind it, as well as interesting facts unknown to most.

Pre-registration is required for the shows and workshop. Call 012-6646251 or email to

On July 20 and 21, there are screenings of Father, a candid documentary focusing on the challenges faced by the declining artform at GSC Gurney Plaza. Starting 11am on both days, tickets are priced at RM9 and RM17.

The feature is directed by Yang Li-chou, an avid fan of puppetry who spent 10 years with Taiwanese master puppeteer Chen Hsi-huang to unravel the conflicted relationship he had with his father Lee Tian-lu, a legend of the craft himself.

Prior to that on July 18, Yang will present a talk titled ‘The Development and Prospect of Taiwanese Documentary Films’ in 20 years at Wawasan Open University starting 8pm. Pre-registration is also required.

Isle to Isle’s other programmes include a Design Forum from 9am to 5pm on July 19, at the ballroom of the Royale Chulan Penang. This is ticketed at RM100 and RM120.

Six top-notch designers and curators, who were behind iconic events in Taiwan, will be on hand to share insightful experiences and thoughts.

‘A Creative Market’ will be on at Hall 1 of Jetty 35 in Weld Quay from 11am to 9pm on July 20 and 21. Themed ‘Crafts: Nature as Inspiration’, it will feature 14 indigenous craft labels from Taiwan that focus on the simplicity of daily living.

At the adjacent Hall 2, there will be Creative Branding Sharing sessions from 4pm to 5pm on both days by two Taiwanese brand founders.

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