Arts festival goes online

Participants delivering an item featuring a fusion of Chinese and Malay traditional musical instruments.

THE George Town Festival (GTF) returns this Saturday and will go on until July 19 with nine visual art, theatre, music, dance and film programmes — all in cyberspace.

True to its theme of ‘Everyone Everywhere’, the virtual GTF experience allows one to easily access content via tablet, smartphone or laptop.

Kicking off the virtual programmes (all accessible via is The New Adventures in Sound Art by Kamal Sabran and Friends at 2pm on Saturday.

A special project for GTF, it sees the artist-designer-researcher exploring and re-tuning classic Malay pop songs together with Russian visual artist Arina Kokoreva, Malaysian model Tuti Noor, American musicians Emma Caterinicchio, Beyowing and Eric Hausman.

The collaboration also includes Russian musician Olya, Italian choreographer Diletta Brancatelli, and Malaysian choreographer Hilyati Ramli and musician Reza Othman.

This is followed by the return of the highly successful Armour and Skin 2019 musical masterpiece by Hands Percussion and Gamelan Yuganada.

It had its world premiere at last year’s GTF. One can watch the performance again from midnight on Sunday, right up till 11.59pm on July 11.

Tarian Kuda Kepang will be presented by Wak Long Music and Art Centre.Tarian Kuda Kepang will be presented by Wak Long Music and Art Centre.

Viewers from all over the world can also experience local cultural performances from the safety of their homes with the Absolute Penang showcase scheduled for 7pm to 9pm on July 7.

Among its four items are a Sitar and Tabla performance by Pravinraj Premkumar and Kumaran Rajanam, and a traditional Chinese Opera segment titled Mu Guiying Gets Married by the Teochew Puppet and Opera House.

Wak Long Music and Art Centre will also be putting on a Tarian Kuda Kepang. Completing the set will be local music group Culture Shot with renditions of local folk songs.

Those looking to interact with the creative geniuses behind GTF 2019’s most successful shows can do so via this year’s virtual talk segments.

Catch up with Filamen cofounders Abdul Shakir and Fariz Hanapiah, as well as Epson Malaysia product manager Jeniffer Low, for insights behind their jaw-dropping art installation at 8pm on July 9.

On July 10, also at 8pm, viewers can tune in with Pichet Klunchun, choreographer of Bird — a dance collaboration between his company and Finnish visual theatre group WHS.

Catch up with Saleh Sepas and Amin Kamrani, writer-director and interpreter-producer respectively of the Screaming in Silence play that highlights child marriage in Afghanistan, at 2pm on July 11.

Tabla playing will be featured in the Sitar and Tabla performance.Tabla playing will be featured in the Sitar and Tabla performance.

The last catch-up session at 2pm on July 12 sees Hands Percussion Malaysia founder and artistic director Bernard Goh joining composer and ethnomusicologist I Wayan Sudirana, and theatre director and actor Ghafir Akbar giving insights into Armour and Skin 2019.

Fans of cartoonist Azmi Hussin can look forward to his Coffee Painting Workshops via Zoom on July 18 and 19 at 8pm and 2pm respectively.

Learn how to draw the national flower, bunga raya, using coffee. Participants have to join both sessions, and pre-registration is required at

Finally, there is a post-GTF bonus screening at 8pm on July 26 titled Moving Shadows, Chasing Light that casts light on complex human rights issues.

The screening includes Di Luar Bayangan, a shadow play by Plasticity Theatre Troupe (PTT) in association with Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) Penang and Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together (Edict) inspired by the true story of Chandran Perumal.

Another segment, Beyond Understanding, is a documentary film by Goh Choon Ean which follows the journey of human rights activist Loo Que Lin.

Lastly, there is Chili Powder and Thinner, an animation by Suaram and Freedom Film Network with illustrations by Amin Landak.

For more information, visit or log on to its Facebook page.

The annual festival is a project by George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI), organised by TLM Event, endorsed by the Penang state government, and fully supported by Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and Penang Global Tourism (PGT).

Meanwhile, state tourism committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin commended the organisers for re-inventing the festival virtually, as it allows previous festival-goers and the public alike to continue experiencing the arts during these trying times.

“Everyone has to prepare for and embrace the new norm during and after this pandemic, including the arts and culture industry, ” Yeoh said in a statement.

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