Pesta Raya festival

Nostalgic take on Malay heritage

Festival line-up includes popular acts from the 1990s and a monodrama starring Siti Khalijah Zainal

Experience a blast from the past with the Esplanade's Pesta Raya as this year's programme features prominent names from the 1990s and earlier.

The festival, which coincides with the month-long celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, returns for the 15th year from Aug 4 to 7. It celebrates Malay culture and heritage through dance, theatre and music.

This year's headlining acts include favourite 1990s Malaysian boyband, KRU, in a one-night-only performance on Aug 6 that celebrates their 25 years in the music industry.

Malay music composer S. Atan's 44 years in the business, during which he penned more than 1,000 songs, will also be celebrated in Suara Hati S. Atan on Aug 5. The evening of songs will feature performances by artists from the Malay music scene in Singapore and Malaysia.

Esplanade programmer Hanie Nadia Hamzah, 35, says the arts centre wanted to "present iconic Malay productions and personalities through the various eras", whose works and art forms "had impacted generations of audiences".

The Necessary Stage's monodrama, Rosnah, which premiered in 1995, will be performed in Malay for the first time. This is also the first time the theatre company is on the Pesta Raya line-up.

Haresh Sharma, resident playwright of the company, says: "It's the first time we are doing it in Malay for a predominantly Malay- speaking audience. I'm quite excited."

Actress Siti Khalijah Zainal takes on the titular role of a Malay- Muslim woman who moves to London to pursue her studies.

Besides seven ticketed performances and workshops, there are also free events. Fans of hip-hop battles might want to check out Dikir Battle, a competition of wit and rhymes performed in a dikir barat setting. Dikir barat is a type of choral singing that features hand clapping and percussion accompaniment.

The sounds of pop yeh-yeh, which is Malay pop from the 1960s and 1970s influenced by Western pop bands such as The Beatles, will come alive on Aug 4 with Dendangan Penyanyi Pujaan, a free performance led by Rudi & The Wisma II. The lead singer, Rudi Salim, is the son of the late pop yeh-yeh singer Salim I, who was from the band The Wisma.

Families with children can participate in free wau, or traditional kite- making, and storytelling sessions.

Those interested in tarian, or Malay dance, can check out a 90- minute tarian workshop for women ($15 a person) as well as an hour-long parent-child workshop ($24 for one parent and one child).

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'Nostalgic take on Malay heritage'. Print Edition | Subscribe