The Kuala Lumpur Festival is about highlighting the togetherness of Malaysians, writes Subhadra Devan
THE seventh edition of the Kuala Lumpur Festival will kick off this Sunday at Istana Budaya with Dikir Barat Extravanganza.
The two-day show will feature the traditional art form as well as contemporary settings such as reggae, blues and rock. Dikir barat involves singing in groups and can be performed with or without instrumental accompaniment.
The festival curator, National Culture And Arts Department (JKKN), has invited 500 participants for the show. They include Bob of Akademi Fantasia fame, Awie, and National Living Heritage Treasure Eyo Hock Seng. While Eyo’s specialty is wayang kulit, the Kelantan-born tok dalang (puppet master) is also a dikir barat expert.
“There will be contemporary stylings to attract youth to the show and perhaps to take up this art form,” says JKKN director-general Datuk Norliza Rofli at a Press conference last week.
The Dikir Barat Extravanganza, a ticketed event, is one of 86 events conducted by 28 event organisations for the festival, which encompasses the month of Ramadan.
There were 107 events at last year’s festival, The annual event, with a budget of RM600,000, is organised by the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry, with aid from other ministries and agencies. It was launched by the Ministry’s secretary-general, Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Siaraf, last Wednesday.
Calling it a “festival for the people”, Norliza says one of the highlights is two mega berbuka puasa (breaking of fast) events, tentatively set for July 17 and 19 (depending on when Ramadan officially starts).
Also a pre-Merdeka offering, it will have 15 mosques taking part in the preparation of bubur lambuk (Malay rice congee) to be served to the public.
Another highlight is traditional performances which, she says, is well attended every year. This year, it showcases an odissi dance by the Temple Of Fine Arts, a Chinese opera and jikey (mask) show from Kedah.
“Jikey is rarely performed outside Kedah, while how many of us have watched a Chinese opera? This is a good opportunity for the people to do so,” she says, pointing out that the traditional performances, which are free, are usually attended by schoolchildren but passes must be obtained to ensure seats at the venue.
Last year, 930,000 visitors were registered for the various events. This year, the target is a million foreign and local visitors.
Tourism Malaysia will offer bus rides to the venues which include the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPaC) which, she says, did not draw its fair share of festival visitors last year. Tourism Malaysia will also offer event packages for certain locations.
The KL Festival is about more than just cultural events. Norliza says: “Cultural events biasa (usual), shopping biasa... it’s about highlighting the togetherness of Malaysians, with Ramadan in July and Merdeka around the corner.”
Dikir Barat Extravaganza
When July 1-2,
Where Istana Budaya KL
Tickets RM20, RM35, RM45 and RM60
Visit www.ticket2u.biz, or call 03-4147 8600
Details at www.klfestival.org.my or call 03-2052 3605
TOK dalang Eyo Hock Seng, who believes he is the only Chinese dalang practising in Kelantan today, is a staunch keeper of the oral tradition of this shadow puppet theatre form.
Stemming from an interest that began when Eyo was just 9, the tok dalang is today, one of Malaysia’s National Living Heritage Treasures (Tokoh Warisan Orang Hidup).
Eyo is one of five people named 2012 National Living Heritage Treasure by the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry in May. The others include Ramli Ibrahim (Indian classical dance, classical ballet and modern dance) and Mek Jah Deris (mak yong).
Eyo, popularly called Pak Chu, is the fourth-generation in his family still residing in the Pasir Mas village of Kampung Pasir Parit. His youthful passion saw him leaving school when aged 12, with his parents’ blessings, to follow wayang kulit troupes and watch their performances around the State.
Speaking in the Kelantanese Malay dialect, Eyo says he was 17 when he put up his own wayang kulit show.
He explains that Kelantanese wayang kulit tradition is wayang kulit Siam, with stories taken mainly from the Hindu epic, Ramayana, although he has since added modern tales to his oral repertoire.
Eyo is a master of not just wayang kulit, but also in menora (dance drama), main petri (ritualised healing drama) and dikir barat (group singing form unique to Kelantan).
He performs with his troupe, Seri Campuran Pasir Parit, for all these traditional artforms. Eyo is also the only known Chinese tok jogho (vocalist) for dikir barat, and who is able to come up with lyrics spontaneously.
Catch Eyo and Seri Campuran Pasir Parit, at the Dikir Barat Extravanganza
Where Istana Budaya, KL
When July 1-2, 8.30pm
Tickets RM20 to RM60
Details at www.ticket2u.biz. Call 03-4147 8600
Kuala Lumpur Festival
Presents Konsert DIR
Honouring the late Datuk Sudirman Arshad
Guest artiste Azlan and the Typewriter
Where Auditorium DBKL
When July 7-8, 8.30pm
Tickets From RM10.
Details at www.ticket2u.biz
Traditional dance drama popular in Kedah, Perlis, southern Thailand and Cambodia. Stories are mainly folk tales, told with comic excellence.
When July 7-8, 8.30pm
Where Panggung Bandaraya, DBKL
Where: Kasturi Walk, Central Market
When July 12. 9pm
Actors Studio Teater Rakyat presents Usikan Rebab, an adaptation of Bisikan Rebab II, developed into a full-length mono-play by director Norzizi Zulkifli. Usikan Rebab is about a former mak yong heroine, Mak Nab, who is frustrated with her daughters to whom she wants to teach her art.
Where Pentas 2, The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre
When July 11-15, 8.30pm
Tickets RM33, RM23
Language The play is in Kelantanese dialect and Bahasa Malaysia, with English subtitles.
Call 03-4047 9000
Kathak presentation by India’s maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj, his senior disciple Saswati Sen, and four other Indian artistes.
Where Temple Of Fine Arts, Brickfields
When July 6, 7.30pm
By Invitation Call 03-22743709