Your week-to-week guide to George Town Festival 2017

Highlights and must-sees


By Su Fen Tan

Your week-to-week guide to George Town Festival 2017

Weekend 1 | 29 – 30 July


When: 28 & 29 July, 9-10.30pm

Where: Dewan Sri Pinang

For two nights only, Dewan Sri Pinang will play home to the stage where all the voices of Southeast Asia converge at Svara ASEAN. The Penang Philharmonic Orchestra, Philippine Madrigal Singers, flute Maestro Gus Teja from Indonesia, mezzo-soprano Anchee from Thailand as well as local artists Adibah Noor and Sean Ghazi will all play a part in this celebration of the music of Southeast Asia.


Journey to George Town

When: 29 July @ 3.30pm and 8.30pm, & 30 July, @ 11.30am, 3.30pm & 8.30pm

Where: Auditorium P. Ramlee House

A play for the young and the young at heart, Journey to George Town is a brilliant local spin on the Journey to the West. In their rendition, ZXC Theatre Troupe combines traditional puppetry and acting in a story to shed light on the environmental problems faced within the George Town heritage site, bringing awareness to the issue and the traditional performing arts both at once.


Macam-Macam ASEAN

When: 29 & 30 July, 11am-10pm

Where: Penang State Museum (Macalister Road)

Eat, shop, and immerse yourself in culture to your heart’s content at Macam-Macam ASEAN. Besides bringing together the best of ASEAN-made arts and craft in one market there will also be performances, such as a Star Wars-inspired wayang kulit show, and the book launch of Nazlina Hussin’s The Fierce Aunty’s No-Nonsense Guide to the Perfect Laksa. Don’t forget to get your laksa fix at Laksa of the Region (LOTR)!


Before They Pass Away, a talk by Jimmy Nelson

When: 30 July, 4.30-6pm

Where: Multipurpose Hall @ Bangunan UAB

Jimmy Nelson’s photography takes viewers on a journey through lands less travelled across Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the South Pacific with portraitures of tribal and indigenous people, capturing their unique culture in vivid images. In addition to an exhibition of his photography (which is held at the Event Hall in Bangunan UAB from 28 July to 27 August), Nelson is in town to hold a talk and Q&A session to discuss his work.


Weekend 2 | 5 – 6 August


When: 5 & 6 August, 8.30-9.30pm

Where: Loft 29 @ Gat Lebuh Gereja

Cell tells the story of Ted, who after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease goes on an adventure of a lifetime with his pet fish. As his mobility degenerates, Ted rushes to experience a world that is outside his comfort zone, from the streets of Lille to the romance of Venice. Humorous and hopeful, Cell features charming puppetry, physical theatre and an original score to tell the heart-warming story.


Good Good Fortune by Lucy Marinkovich

When: 5 August @ 1pm, 4pm and 7pm, & 6 August @ 10am, 1pm and 4pm

Where: The Whiteaways Arcade

A live performance installation by Lucy Marinkovich, Good Good Fortune encourages the audience to reflect upon the role of fortune in our lives, and consider our agency in creating our own experiences and circumstances. The audience will be led through a series of game-plays, questions, chance activities, and instinctive responses that ultimately lead them to the selection of their own personal “fortune”.


Book launch: Penang Hill: A Journey Through Time by Mike Gibby

When: 6 August, 3-4.40pm

Where: Multipurpose Hall @ Bangunan UAB

Join Mike Gibby for the launch of his book Penang Hill: A Journey Through Time, for tales from the bungalows, railways that never ran, and stories of the people who live on the historical Penang Hill.


Weekend 3 | 12 & 13 August

A Simple Space presents Gravity & Other Myths

When: 11 August @ 8.30-9.30pm, & 12 August @ 3.30-4.30pm

Where: Dewan Sri Pinang

A Simple Space has wowed audiences all over the world with their universal physical language and joyful energy, and now, they’ll be in George Town to present their acrobatic prowess in a jaw-dropping performance. Watch as the seven acrobats push their physical limits without reservation, supported by live percussion in a performance that is raw, frantic and delicate all at once.


OH! Terpelanjat

When: 10 August – 3 September, 11am-6pm

Where: Dewan Sri Pinang

Do you remember seeing our Instagram post on the mesmerising OH! Rainforest installation at Rainforest Fringe Festival? Here, George Town Festival gets its own version as Other Half Studio come to the island to work their magic to create a unique kaleidoscopic installation inspired by the many beautiful facets of Penang culture.


Dato’ Seri Ahmad Nawab – The Man and his Music

When: 10-13 August (exhibition), 11am-7pm | 13 August (performance), 4-6pm

Where: Penang House of Music

In a career spanning six decades, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Nawab composed and recorded more than 2,000 songs. See his admirable contribution and achievement in the music industry at the exhibition, then sit down for an intimate performance and dialogue session where the man himself will share his musical journey.


Weekend 4 | 19 & 20 August

Hakanaï by Adrien M & Claire B

When: 18 August @ 8.30pm, & 19 August @ 3pm and 8.30pm

Where: Loft 29 @ Gat Lebuh Gereja

Using technology to poetic effect, Hakanaï is a solo choreographic performance that unfolds through a series of images in motion, and the dancer’s interactions with the images she encounters. The images are on-stage animations that move in physical patterns according to the rhythm of the live sounds that they follow. The mesmerising performance’s outcome is the revelation of a digital installation to the audience.


Rhythm in Bronze

When: 18 & 19 August, 7pm

Where: Gat Lebuh Macallum

Rhythm in Bronze, a Malaysian contemporary gamelan ensemble, is well known for its role in promoting and preserving our national musical heritage for future generations, giving the traditional instrument a contemporary sound by constantly creating new compositions and experimenting with fresh approaches and performances.


Gala by Jérôme Bel

When: 19  & 20 August, 8.30-10pm

Where: Dewan Sri Pinang

French choreographer Jérôme Bel introduces Gala, a showcase of the art of dance as well as the art of trying to dance, where 20 George Town individuals from varying generations and backgrounds, whether they are professionals or first timers, will take the stage to execute different styles and genre of dances. Safe to say it’ll be a dance showcase like no other.


Weekend 5 | 26 & 27 August

“What are you singing?” Taiwan Liãm Kua

When: 25 & 26 August, 7pm

Where: Gat Lebuh Macallum

How was entertainment like before the era of TV? In early Taiwan, people get the latest buzz from street performances who play the yueqin and the daguanxian along with singing. Get a taste of this traditional craft called Liãm Kua, a traditional form of ballad-singing and spoken-word storytelling.


Nosferatu by Tess Said So

When: 26 & 27 August, 8.30-10pm

Where: The Star Pitt Street

Here’s a rare opportunity to see the silent classic horror movie Nosferatu (1922) as it was original intended, with award-winning musician from Tess Said So performing their new and original score using keyboards, percussion and electronics live in concert.


The Italian Restaurant

When: 26 August @ 3pm & 8.30pm, 27 August @ 8.30pm

Where: Loft 29 @ Gat Lebuh Gereja

Experience the Japanese traditional Noh theatre with the new production of The Italian Restaurant by Naohiko Umewaka. A collaboration with innovative performer and choreographer Aida Redza, the play makes use of symbolism, metaphors and the golden Noh mask to present the life of a man who is forced to live between non-fiction and fiction – the interplay across boundaries.


Weekend 6 | 2 & 3 September

Next Level

When: 1 & 2 September, 8pm

Where: Multipurpose Hall @ Bangunan UAB

This show immerses one into the world of an imagined RPG set in the dystopian world of a sociopathic millennial’s party. The actors you encounter are split into two factions: players who have entered the game and are exploring the world with you, and simulated characters whose entire reality is constructed within the game’s coding. Interesting, no? Experience this take on theatrical art form for yourself to find out how it plays out.


The Dead Twin

When: 2 & 3 September, 7.30 & 9.30pm

Where: The Whiteaways Arcade

The Dead Twin follows the story of Steve, who has the ability to contact his long dead twin who died during the war. A collaboration between Vietnamese-born Chi Vu and Tashamadada’s artistic directo Deborah Leiser Moore, The Dead Twin reimagines the horror as a visceral promenade theatre performance. The show invites the audience to move in and around the venue as they follow the narrative of the performance.


There are loads of other exhibitions and shows going on throughout the month at George Town Festival. To see the full festival programme, visit

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