A sorcerer exacting revenge on his usurpers on a remote island. Four friends returning home after studying abroad and trying to find their place. And let’s add an opera brunch performance from such great heights and the Bard-meets-jazz in an indie bookshop.

March seems to be another busy month with theatre shows that truly hit a nerve with themes of love, identity and a sense of belonging. Not to forget an epic dance theatre performance all the way from Taiwan, which is raring to wow audiences with pure spectacle and stunning visuals.

Here’s a pick of seven theatre and arts performances in March:

Are You Game, Sau(dara)?
Venue: Kotak @ Five Arts Centre, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
Date: March 1-3

Five Arts Centre and Singapore-based theatre outfit Centre 42 come together to present this exciting double-bill of new works inspired by Leow Puay Tin’s Three Children, which received critical acclaim in 1998 as a landmark Malaysia-Singapore production.

This upcoming collaboration sees Malaysian theatre practitioner Fasyali Fadzly planning a fun-filled time with childhood games in an audience interactive work called Are You Game? 

In Sau(dara), Singapore-based theatre group Bhumi Collective explore themes of childhood, memories and relationships in a performance that combines text, dance and music. FB: Five Arts Centre.

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A scene from Are You Game?, which features (from left) Ali Alasri, Darynn Wee and Hannan Barakbah.

The Singing Balcony #8 – The Opera Edition
Venue: Zhongshan Building, Off Jalan Kampung Attap, Kuala Lumpur
Date: March 2

Here’s something unique for opera fans.  The Singing Balcony – a sort of opera busking series – sees operatic aria sets performed from the balcony of the highest floor of the Zhongshan building. That’s theatrical enough!

It welcomes its first duet performance featuring the celebrated soprano Ang Mei Foong and bass-baritone Mak Chi Hoe. They will present a cheeky duet entitled Pa Pa Pa …  sung by the characters Papageno (the birdcatcher) and Papagena (his dream girl) from Mozart’s opera Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute).

The duo will be accompanied by Chan Wen Li on the piano. There will be three hourly slots, starting at 11.30am. Sit back and let the heavenly music flow through the Zhongshan building.

If you need more classical on the same day, don’t miss the Tiny Concerts – Dichterliebe mini-event featuring 4 Tenors (Scott Woo, Phang Kong-Chien, Alphonsus Sim and Tan Jong Hann) with pianist Rohan Yung.

They will be appearing at Rumah Kampung Attap Library & Collective in Zhongshan at 2.30pm. Entry by minimum donation and reservations a must for Tiny Concerts. FB: Verses.

It’s Not Complicated
Venue: Revolution Stage, One Avenue, Petaling Jaya
Date: March 6-9

Which family does not have secrets? But when the secrets come out of hiding, that’s when the problem starts.

A couple Razin and Shafiqa learn this harsh truth on the day of their wedding when Razin’s mother exposes a dark secret that shocks both sides of the family and eventually the wedding had to be called off.

But the thing is Shafiqah is not the only one with secrets. Razin’s family members, including his own mother, have their own dark past which they have kept hidden for a very long time.

As more things get unearthed, it looks like Razin and Shafiqa’s wedding is doomed. This Malay play is written by Arshad Adam and directed by Own. FB: Revolution Stage.

Gold Rain And Hailstones
Venue: Theatre @ DPac, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Date: March 1-10

Have you ever wondered what does it mean to belong? Or more, what does it mean to be a Malaysian? Acclaimed playwright Jit Murad’s signature work Gold Rain And Hailstones – originally staged in 1993 – seeks to answer those questions … with a big dose of humour.

Directed by Gavin Yap and featuring Sharifah Amani, Farah Rani, Ghafir Akbar and Redza Minhat, audiences are in for a treat with this latest restaging of a Malaysian theatre classic.

Set in the 1990s, the play is about four friends who return to Malaysia after studying abroad for some years. As they reconnect, they begin to reminisce about their experiences and how their lives have changed since they returned.

In Malaysia Baru, we still have the same issues and baggage – identity, belonging, racial equality – from the past, don’t we? Let’s see how it all pans out on stage. More details: www.dpac.com.my.

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(L-Rt) Redza, Farah, Ghafir and Sharifah star in the latest staging of Jit Murad’s classic theatre play Gold Rain And Hailstones at DPAC, starting March 1.

WVC Live: Give Thy Ear
Venue: Lit Books, Tropicana Avenue, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Date: March 5 & 6

The Bard and jazz in an intimate live setting? You guessed correct! The usual suspects are back again. It’s the WVC Malaysian Jazz Ensemble, joined by narrator Lim Soon Heng (a veteran theatre practitioner) and singer Aaron Teoh, taking us back to 2016 when this collaboration did The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat production If Music Be The Food Of Love: Jazz On.

For this upcoming show series, these chaps will be playing in an independent bookshop. WVC will be presenting its modern interpretation of Shakespeare. Besides improvisations and original compositions from WVC’s Give Thy Ear album last year, there will also be rearrangements of Duke Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder Suite and more.

With Teoh also set to embark on his adventure as part of the British touring cast of The King And I in April, it will be a good time to catch this curious Bard-loving jazz collaboration as a full unit. FB: WVC – Malaysian Jazz Ensemble.

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WVC Malaysian Jazz Ensemble (from left) drummer KJ Wong, saxophonist Julian Chan, bassist AJ and pianist Tay Cher Siang.  The jazz group will celebrate the Bard in jazz music at a bookshop gig series in Petaling Jaya.

Formosa
Venue: Panggung Sari, Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur
Date: March 16 & 17

This is one show you don’t want to miss out on. All the way from Taiwan comes the epic dance theatre Formosa. Presented by Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, in collaboration with Malaysia’s Hands Percussion and Inxo Arts And Culture Foundation, this dance production is legendary Taiwanese choreographer and writer Lin Hwai-min’s swansong .

Formosa made the headlines in 2018 when it was staged at the Sadler’s Wells in London. Britain’s The Guardian and The Stage named it one of the best dance productions of 2018. It also toured Europe and the US after a hit run in Taiwan. The Chicago Tribune placed Formosa at the top of its year-end dance events.

Expect to see amazing choreography and heart-pumping music with stage projections which are out of this world when it opens at Istana Budaya. The show is soundtracked by award-winning indigenous Taiwanese singer Sangpuy. You can be sure to be transported to a place where the lines between tribal ritual and the bustle of the city are blurred. More details: www.airsiaredtix.com.

David Glass’ Tempest
Venue: Pentas 2 @ KLPac, Kuala Lumpur
Date: March 28-31

Enter into a dangerous world of magic, betrayal and revenge in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. There is a bit of a twist here, of course. Well known physical and devised theatre initiator David Glass reinterprets the Bard’s tragicomedy driven by the physicality of the actors rather than the texts themselves.

With a cast of physical actors, including Lee Swee Keong (choreographer and butoh exponent) and Seng Soo Ming together with KL Shakespeare Players’ Lim Soon Heng and Lim Kien Lee, Tempest conjures a dark and enchanting world with spectacular visuals, music and moodscapes. The themes illustrated in the play are freedom, friendship , repentance and forgiveness. More details: www.klpac.org.

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David Glass’ Tempest featuring (L-R) Lee Swee Keong, Nikki Basharudin, Teoh Jun Vinh, Lim Kien Lee, Lim Soon Heng and Zul Zamir. Photo: Dev Lee