Penang Arts scene Just Grew Even Bigger
Last night we officially welcomed the newest and most accessible Theatre into Penangs growing art scene. The Performing Arts Centre of Penang (PenangPac), located at E & O’s stunning project Strait’s Quay, was opened by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
The Chief Minister gave us an inspirational speach about how E & O (represented by Deputy Managing Director, Eric Chan Kok Leong) and there partners in this venture The Actors Studio (represented by husband and wife team Joe Hasham and Dato Faridah Merican) had brought a gift to the people of Penang and that it was the peoples responsibility now to ensure that the Performing Arts centre of Penang was well supported.
CM Lim Guan Eng’s speech followed on the heals of opening speaches by Dato Faridah Merican and Joe Hasham who thanked all the people that made the centre a reality with hard work and perseverance.
Eric Chan, E & O deputy Managing Director also gave a speech of thanks where he said that E & O are committed to Penang and to the Arts and this was their way of giving back to the people of Penang. E & O have invested RM7.5 million into this Performing Arts Centre as well as the Actors Studio’s contribution and it shows the level of commitment in time and money as this project has taken over 3 years to come to fruition.
The 2,044sqm centre boasts 2 theatres, a 304 seater auditorium and a 140 seater black box theatre as well as 3 studios. Performances would by no means be confined to the building, with E&O providing a “floating stage” that would allow shows to be held by the sea.
Faridah and Joe are “very happy” with the end result.
“What we are doing,” said Joe, “is decentralising theatre. Faridah’s vision always has been to decentralise, to not only have theatre in Kuala Lumpur.”
“If Faridah had her way, there would be a theatre on every street corner of Malaysia!!”
A full line-up of performances are programmed between now and the end of the year and Joe Hasham stated in his speech that PenangPac was hosting a 7 week festival where all performances will be free in celebration of the opening.
After the welcoming speaches we were entertained with a sampling of the performances that will delight the local crowds in the coming weeks.
Extract from thestar.com.my go here to read – By SHEELA CHANDRAN – firstname.lastname@example.org
Faridah said: “There are many local and foreign productions that want to tour up north after a run in Kuala Lumpur, whether at KLpac, The Actors Studio@Lot 10 or other venues around town. It makes good economic sense and it is a great opportunity to showcase their work to more people. Our shows will definitely be travelling up to Penang often.”
Faridah is no stranger in the local theatre scene. Often referred to as the First Lady of Malaysian Theatre, she and husband Joe Hasham (currently KLPac artistic director) co-founded the country’s first-ever privately owned theatre space, The Actors Studio (TAS) Theatre, at Plaza Putra in KL in 1995. In 1998, they followed suit with The Actors Studio Academy to nurture theatre talents.
In 2001, the couple set up TAS@Bangsar Shopping Centre in KL and the following year, TAS at Greenhall in Penang to the delight of Penang’s theatre enthusiasts.
When flood waters destroyed TAS at Plaza Putra in 2003, Faridah and Joe worked closely with the YTL Group, Yayasan Budi Penyayang, to set up KLPac in 2005. And with Penangpac, Faridah has added another feather in her cap.
“Penang is my home state and I always felt it was important to have a base there. Then we stumbled upon the kind folks at E&O who were already well known supporters of the arts and heritage. After several rounds of talks, they were willing to provide the space and build Penangpac,” said the theatre doyenne, who received the BOH Cameronian Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the local performing arts in 2004.
It is hoped that Penangpac will bring Penang’s theatre scene back to its hey day.
“Performing arts isn’t something new in Penang. It was popular from the time of traditional theatre taking to the streets, such as Chinese opera, to the influx of English theatre brought about by expatriates who settled there during the colonial era. The Penang theatre scene is strong, vibrant and colourful. I believe overall appreciation for the arts is on the rise and that includes Penang. There is a demand for performances and a ready supply of talented individuals from performers to creative personnel,” she opined.
Besides serving a vital role in building social interaction and cultural vibrancy, Faridah said the centre would serve as a catalyst in harnessing more young talents from the northern region.
“In terms of unearthing new talents, I think as what we have seen in KL, young people are interested in the arts. However, they need a safe space and guidance to explore it. We believe Penangpac can provide both.
“We believe strongly in the young. We hope to draw up new programmes targeted at the youths who are interested in theatre. Penangpac’s upcoming academy will be running a host of exciting classes related to the performing arts,” said Faridah.
In order to let Penangites have a taste of theatre, Penangpac will be hosting free performances, which will run till the end of the year. These include concerts like Together As One (by the Young KL Singers), Dancebox (MyDance Alliance), Japanese costume exhibition (Japanese designer Shingo Tokihiro) and The First Inter-School Gender Equality Drama Competition of Penang (Neighbourhood Performance Group) and much more.
“It doesn’t stop there – 2012 begins with Joe’s musical Malaysian Girls, which would have just finished its premiere in KL followed by the re-staging of his critically-acclaimed play Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me. This is just a teaser for an exciting year filled with more exciting programming to come!”
For more details, go to theactors studio.com.my or facebook.com/ penangpac.