Making a splash
The Encore Melaka theatre venue, situated in the new Impression City cultural hub in the heart of Melaka, opens in July. It will be home to a state-of-the art theatre extravaganza that celebrates Melaka’s rich and diverse history.
THE tale of Melaka has captured the imagination of Malaysians for centuries. The much-storied state that started it all is replete with historical sagas, myths and legends. It is no wonder, then, that the epic narrative of this historic city is getting a grand staging in Encore Melaka.
The 70-minute Encore Melaka show, which will open to the masses on July 1 at Impression City, Kota Laksamana, recounts the long-forgotten tales of this once bustling, cosmopolitan port, from the stories of the early voyagers to the makings of modern Melaka.
Encore Melaka, boasting an ensemble of 200 local performers, is set to wow audiences with a breathtaking theatre spectacle when the curtain rises.
Like anything else, this ambitious theatre project began with a dream. Nearly five years ago, Datuk Wira Boo Kuang Loon had a grand idea of making his hometown Melaka the ultimate tourist destination.
“I’m a Melaka boy and I’ve always wanted to do something for my hometown,” says Boo, the CEO of Yong Tai Berhad, a tourism and cultural-related property developer.
At an exclusive preview event on May 28, hundreds of audience members, including media (foreign and local), witnessed the realisation of that impossible dream with Encore Melaka.
“We are pushing the envelope for the performance arts – the integration of storytelling with innovative stage technologies has never been seen before in South-East Asia,” he adds.
As a new landmark, the Encore Melaka theatre promises to add a new chapter to the state’s cultural tourism history.
It is the focal point of the multi-billion ringgit Impression City, an integrated mixed development – 55.8ha in size – by Yong Tai. The theatre venue is also within a 3.5km radius from Melaka’s bustling tourist zone, including Jonker Walk. Undeniably, there will be no shortage of tourist traffic, with Melaka registering 16.7 million tourists in 2017, according to Tourism Melaka. That places the historic state as the main tourist destination in the country, with the majority of travellers from China, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In this part of the world, many would be familiar with tourism and cultural spectacles like the Siam Niramit Show in Bangkok and the water-based stage production The House of Dancing Water in Macau.
Encore Melaka, helmed by China-based artistic director Wang Chaoge, is a major new player on the list. It is a state-of-the-art production of Melaka’s beginnings and growth through a timeline of six centuries, as told by Wang. The director and her team spent nearly two years studying Melaka’s history, culture, traditions and most importantly, the people.
“We did a thorough research to find out whether we are able to deliver a comprehensive introduction to the history of Melaka, its people, arts and culture,” says Wang, who was part of the team behind the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
“I am intrigued and inspired by Melaka’s perseverance and resonance for history, culture and racial harmony. We hope that audiences will be spiritually encouraged and inspired as well while experiencing a visual feast,” she adds.
The Encore Melaka dream was realised through Wang’s Impression series. It is the 10th Impression series (established in 1998 by renowned directors Zhang Yimou, Fan Yue and Wang herself ) and first outside of China.
“When I watched the Impression series in China, I knew this was what I wanted for Melaka. So I approached the Impression team and began working with them in 2013 to make the show possible,” shares Boo.
The Baba Nyonya dance scene in Encore Melaka, a 70-minute performance recounting Melaka’s history through stories, music and dance. — Photos: Encore Melaka ‘I am intrigued and inspired by Melaka’s perseverance and resonance for history, culture and racial harmony,’ says Wang, the show’s artistic director from China. The building’s modern structure features a white porcelain exterior and blue shades, while an ‘organic’ canopy entrance welcomes visitors to Encore Melaka.