Pesta Raya for everyone

SINGAPORE - The Esplanade's annual Malay arts festival Pesta Raya runs for four days this year, from Aug 29 to Sept 1, down from 10 days last year.

But that does not mean that the arts centre is scaling down on programmes featuring Malay dance, theatre, art and music. Its programmers say that they are now spreading them out throughout the year instead of putting them all in one festival.

The Esplanade's associate producer of programming, Ms Norhayati Yusoff, explains: "Instead of concentrating the bulk of our programmes during this period, we are now spreading them out more throughout the year under the banner of our Malay series, Pentas."

Programmes under Pentas have increased from four a year when it first started in 2007 to 10 productions this year.

"We hope to provide our audiences with quality Malay programmes to look forward to all year round," she adds.

Like in past years, the programmes presented in this year's Pesta Raya tap both ancient tales from the Nusantara (Malay and Indonesian archipelago) and contemporary Malay socio-economic issues.

Renowned Malaysian director Erma Fatima helms Akulah... (I Am...), a play commissioned for Pesta Raya featuring a star-studded cast of top actresses Erra Fazira and Umie Aida as well as matinee and television idol Adi Putra in a story that touches on modern-day belief in the occult.

Indonesian rap group Jogja Hip Hop Foundation mix the old and the new, infusing their raps with stories from Javanese and Malay literary texts while local television veterans Najip Ali and Rilla Melati will rejuvenate old Malay folktales in the second run of their popular production aimed at children, Danial Dan Buku Ajaib (Danial And The Magic Book).

With five ticketed programmes and 12 free shows happening in various venues within the arts centre, the festival is programmed to be all-inclusive.

Ms Norhayati says: "Pesta Raya continues to be a platform where we showcase Malay arts with something for everyone in the line-up, so we hope more people will join us."

For the full line-up and ticketing details of Pesta Raya 2013, go to

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