It’s back! The Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival (YSDAF) returns this weekend for its third edition with nearly 350 events featured in its wide-ranging programme.

This year’s YSDAF, promising to be bigger and better than the previous editions,  takes on “You, Me + The Arts” as its theme, aiming to serve as a platform to give a voice to the less heard in society.

The free admission festival, put together by a 500-strong contingent of Malaysian artists, arts activists and volunteers, rolls out at several venues – indoor and outdoor – at KLPac on Aug 18-19.

Expect a more vibrant and heartfelt edition of the YSDAF this time around, what with exciting collaborations between arts-driven outfits and community-based groups and grassroots causes.

From performances of traditional to contemporary works, to hands-on workshops, dance to comedy, right to live gigs, there is something for the entire family.

Here are a few festival highlights:

Adam! The Musical, Pentas 1, Aug 18-19, 8.30pm

This is probably the highlight of this year’s festival as far as theatre is concerned.

Adam! The Musical, originally commissioned by the Malaysian AIDS Foundation, premiered in 2010 and ran for a record-breaking 35 performances at The Actors Studio Lot 10 in KL.

The upcoming 2018 production will be directed by Joe Hasham and will premiere as part of the Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival 2018 from Aug 18-19  and enjoy an extended run from Aug 24 to Sept 1.

It features original music written by Teng Ky-Gan and Lim Chuang Yik and an updated story by Mark Beau de Silva.

Adam! The Musical will be performed by an almost brand new cast, with a few returning cast members.

The main cast includes Malik Taufiq as Adam, Teresa Goh as Mia, Nikki Palikat as Flora, Faridah Merican as Noni, Fairuz Fee Tauhid as Jambu and Zhafir Muzani as Mangga.

The musical deals with issues and challenges faced by people with HIV, and tells the story of Adam and Mia as they navigate their “complicated” relationship.

Sounds And Sights Of The Orang Ulu Showcase, Workshops and Exhibit,  Pentas 1 Foyer. Aug 18-19

The newly-formed Tuyang Initiative, based in Miri, Sarawak, aims to highlight these lesser known sub-ethnic groups in Sarawak while creating awareness about their wealth in tradition, art and culture.

For this year’s Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival, the Sounds And Sights Of The Orang Ulu showcase is curated around the Kayan and Kenyah communities.

The audience can expect: a mixed media photo exhibit of Pusau Anak, showcasing a traditional child naming ceremony of the Kenyah. It was taken in 1967 by Howard Koons, an American traveller who was serving in the US Peace Corps.

There will also be demos and workshops – Music: Introduction To Sape by Mathew Ngau Jau (Aug 18-19, 3pm and 6.30pm), and Craft: Basket Weaving And Beading by Rose Belare (Aug 18-19, 1.30pm).

Also, don’t miss Adrian Jo Milang’s wonderful traditional oral art form performance Parap And Takna, featuring Kayan poetic tales told in songs (5.30pm, Aug 18-19).  

Hoong Siamang Hooong, Studio 9, Aug 18-19, 11am

Imagine going for a hike in the forest, only to have King Kong follow you.

Well, that’s exactly what a brave and spirited couple experience after venturing deep into the forest in search of fruits. Their journey takes a turn for the worst when a gigantic Siamang (a deep black furry gibbon) follows them.

Follow this thrilling tale based on a Temuan (an indigenous group in Peninsular Malaysia) legend and Kenneth See’s book, told through the medium of shadow theatre.

This live picture book, presented by Hongjiejie Work Station, brings out the amazing relationship between man and nature.

And unlike conventional shadow theatre, where the players perform behind the screen, the actors will be performing right in front of the audience, accompanied by live music.

Soundscape Records Presents: Cyanus, Pentas 2, Aug 18 (1pm) and Aug 19 (2pm)

If musicals and theatre are not your thing, then check out the festival’s indie music performances, curated by Soundscape Records.

One of the highlights for this year is Cyanus, the winning band of YSDAF’s satellite competition Battle Of The Bands.

Cyanus, formed by the music students of UCSI, blurs the line between jazz fusion and indie rock.  Frontwoman Cornie Kok has the ideal indie rock voice, yet she also has a way of expressing dreamy emotion as the band explores jazzy instrumental passages.

Don’t forget to check out more live acts scheduled at Pentas 2, including Bittersweet, Kugiran Masdo, FAZZ, Enterprise, Pastel Lite, Azmyl Yunor & Orkes Padu, Euseng Seto & Kent Lee and Prasasti.

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The YSDAF, taking a heartfelt approach this time around,  goes beyond just performances. The How To Assist The Blind Workshop is one such event. Photo: KLPac

How to Assist the Blind Workshop, Studio 2, Aug 18-19, 5pm

Ever wondered how you can help people with visual impairment? This workshop will teach participants techniques on how to support and guide the blind.

At the end of the session, students will demonstrate what they learnt by guiding fellow participants who will be blindfolded.

The workshop will be headed by Wong Yoon Loong, who manages the Centre for Advocacy, Research & Empowerment at National Council for the Blind, Malaysia, and is also the vice president of the Malaysian Confederation of the Disabled.


More info and festival programme: ysdartsfestival.com.my.