Great Shows to Catch during KLIAF 2018

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This year, DiverseCity’s Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival (KLIAF) will be held from 1st September until the 30th September. It’s the fourth edition of the festival, with an interesting line-up of at least 40 shows at 10 venues all around Kuala Lumpur. For the first time, it will include a photography exhibition of works, by Hasselbad award-winning photographer Nabil Rosman from Kelantan. The exhibition will feature a series of the streets of everyday KL.

According to Datin Sunita Rajakumar, the KLIAF Festival Director, “Kuala Lumpur is perhaps the only city in the world that can pull off an authentic Asian-based performing arts festival such as KL International Arts Festival. As the most multicultural, lingual, racial, and religious country in ASEAN, Malaysia is intrinsically equipped to emphasise, understand, and appreciate the subtle nuances of different cultures and their art forms.”

Datin Sunita Rajakumar

She said that while Malaysia has its landmarks and iconic buildings, visitors don’t have much opportunities to really immerse themselves in the diverse culture. “At least for one month in the year, we want to telescope attention where you can really see the heart and soul of the city, which is the people and the culture. If you think about it, a cultural performance is a two-way conversation with both participant and audience, compared to a movie.”

Last year, the festival attracted over 33,000 visitors (of which at least 10 percent of visitors were from 20 other countries), and it hopes for similar or more numbers this year. Unfortunately, for the first time since they began in 2015, they haven’t received any seed funding from the government. “Other city festivals depend on support from the government, but there’s been so much change in our government lately so maybe we fell through the cracks this year,” she said.

Although the budget is a little tighter this time around and they had to cut back on certain things such as hiring a publicist, Datin Sunita and her team are determined to put on a great festival. The team is made up mostly of volunteers and consultants, who are mainly involved with the festival purely out of passion and love for the arts, just like Datin Sunita.

DiverseCity’s KL International Arts Festival will turn Kuala Lumpur into a global stage by connecting traditional and modern performances from the past and future, across five different genres, dance, literature, music, theatre, and visual arts.

“Festivals around the world, such as in Sydney, Edinburgh, and Kuching, have been and are a great proponent of the city’s arts and culture. We believe that Kuala Lumpur plays an equally important role in relation to this,” she said.

Here are some of the awesome shows you can catch during the festival:

I am Ravana

Date and Time: September 6-8 @ 7:30 pm
Venue: Shantanad Auditorium

I am Ravana, an epic Indian story of love, lust, kidnapping, and death, is one of the headlining events of the upcoming DiverseCity KL International Arts Festival (KLIAF) 2018. Staged by Australian-based arts and culture organisation Saraswati Mahavidhyalaya (SMV) in collaboration with The Temple of Fine Arts – Inner Space Dance, the show – a visual feast of dance, drama and music – presents an alternate take on the Indian epic, Ramayana, and will be staged for just three nights from Sept 6 to 8 at the Shantanand Auditorium, The Temple of Fine Arts Kuala Lumpur.


For over 2000 years this saga of love, lust, honor, desire and death has been performed, narrated and chanted across South East Asia and around the globe. It is a tale of human frailty that brings to life the inner turmoil present in the hearts and minds of everyone. It is a story of Rama, and his wife Sita, who is kidnapped by King Ravana.

This age old epic has been re-imagined and choreographed by Australia’s premier organisation for the Indian Arts, Saraswati Mahavidhyalaya (SMV), and is being presented at the KL International Arts Festival in collaboration with The Temple of Fine Arts (TFA) Inner Space Dance. It will explore the shades of grey in Ravana’s motivation and desire and is framed by the last moments of his life, when he asks humanity, “why do you rejoice in my death?”. The performance is in English.


Date and Time: September 7 @ 8.30PM

Venue: 11, Jalan Tangsi

Joanne Ryan’s acclaimed, multi-award winning show is a funny, tender and moving exploration of reproduction in 21st-Century Ireland. Looking down the barrel of her final fertile years, one modern Irish woman goes on a comical quest to uncover the ifs, hows and crucially the whys of reproducing her genes.

Mixed animation with stand-up, monologue and hilarious recorded interjections from Ryan’s mother, Eggsistentialism takes a light-hearted but unflinching look at one of life’s most compelling dilemmas: should making a life for oneself involve making another?

Cloud Soup by Wolfe Bowart

Date and Time: September 15 @ 11AM & 3PM

Venue: Menara KEN TTDI

Wolfe Bowart has enchanted audiences in 22 countries around the world with his family-friendly physical theatre productions that are heartwarming, hilarious and thought-provoking. Bowart’s award-winning LaLaLuna, Letter’s End (both previously at KLIAF) and The Man the Sea Saw have received international critical and public acclaim. His latest creation, Cloud Soup, marks his most intimate work to date.


The new production from renowned physical theatre performer Wolfe Bowart, Cloud Soup tells the story of a tailor who discovers that the adventure he longs for lies at his feet – in his pile of laundry. The tailor’s humble shop becomes an undiscovered world as fabrics magically morph, found objects transform into curious beings and puffs of steam remind us of a time when we saw faces in the clouds.

Wear mismatched socks, put your shoes on the wrong feet, turn your shirt inside out and you’ll be perfectly dressed for Cloud Soup.

Travel with Mum

Date and Time: September 20-22 @ 8pm , September 23 @ 3pm

Venue: Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC)

Travel with Mum is beautifully told through a masked theater play on the virtues of filial piety accompanied by folksy live music and inspired by the touching story of Wang Yi-Min who spent all his life with his mother in a village in Liaoning, China. The 74-year-old man takes his 99-year-old mother on a journey across China. Starting in Heilongjiang, they set off for Tibet on a 900-day journey that spans over 30,000 kilometers. His mother, who had toiled her entire life for her family, has never traveled out of her rural hometown. The man is determined to fulfill his mum’s wish to see the beauty of the world while she still can. Together, they travel on a rickety tricycle, pedaling through rural villages and fast-paced cities, valleys and over hills. As they ride on, he discovers that staying by his mum’s side is the greatest reward he can give to both of them.

*Performed in Cantonese with English and Chinese subtitles.

Akram Khan’s “Giselle” the Movie

Date and Time: September 29 and 30 @ 2.30pm

Venue: MBO, The Starling

Hailed as ‘a masterpiece of 21st century dance’ from English National Ballet, Akram Khan’s Giselle comes to cinemas for the first time in 2018, giving ballet fans the opportunity to see this award-winning production in glorious high definition on the big screen. One of the greatest romantic ballets, Giselle has been re-imagined by celebrated choreographer Akram Khan with Artistic Director and Lead Principal of English National Ballet, Tamara Rojo, dancing the role of Giselle, one of a community of migrant workers cast out of their jobs in a condemned garment factory.

With staging and costumes by Academy Award-winning Tim Yip (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), the ballet has won an Olivier Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Award for English National Ballet, received rapturous 5-star reviews and was sold out when performed at London’s Sadler’s Wells. Filmed live at the Liverpool Empire in October 2017, Akram Khan’s Giselle is directed for the screen by Ross MacGibbon. Co-produced by Manchester International Festival and Sadler’s Wells. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Makyong: Anak Raja Tangkai Hati

Date and Time: September 29 & 30 @ 8.30pm 

Venue: Dewan TAR, MATIC

Anak Raja Tangkai Hati was a prince from Sekota Batu who sailed out to find knowledge and experience. While on this journey, he was spotted by Puteri Bota, an Ogre Princess, who disguised herself as a beautiful woman named Puteri Mayang Mengurai and made Anak Raja Tangkai Hati promise to marry her.

Anak Raja Tangkai Hati continued his voyage to a country named Negeri Kota Mengkuang. The state was ruled by Raja Besar who had a daughter named Puteri Cempaka Mas. Anak Raja Tangkai Hati and Puteri Cempaka Emas fell in love and got married. They were soon blessed with two offspring.

One day, Anak Raja Tangkal Hati and his family returned to Sekota Batu by sailing through Puteri Bota’s territory. Princess Bota was very angry when she discovered that Anak Raja Tangkai Heart was married to Princess Cempaka Mas and she sought revenge against him. Finally, with the assistance of Bentara Guru, Puteri Bota was defeated.

Spectrum: An Evening of Jazz–The Julian Chan Jazz Orchestra & Quintet

Date and Time: September 6 @ 8pm 

Venue: Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC)

The performances presented by DPAC always involves the exploration of various elements. Last year, “Spectrum” was very well received by the audience and once again this September over four nights, the Damansara Performing Arts Center (DPAC) will gather renown local musicians for another musical feast. This time, the arrangement and presentation of the songs will be based on the interpretation of oriental classical and Western classic instruments, and the addition of musical instruments with strong Malaysian characteristics.

An Evening Of Jazz will be a fun-filled night of large and small ensemble jazz music brought to you by the Julian Chan Jazz Orchestra, in collaboration with the Damansara Performing Arts Centre.

The Julian Chan Jazz Orchestra (JCJO) is a newly formed community jazz orchestra by Malaysian saxophonist Julian Chan. It is originally formed for the purpose of developing a platform for musicians within the Klang Valley to play in a large jazz ensemble.

The Julian Chan Quintet will present small group jazz works from various eras in jazz in the classic two-horns and rhythm section format. The Quintet will also feature two special guests – Malaysia’s godfather of jazz, Michael Veerapen on piano; as well as Malaysia’s real queen of jazz voice, Junji Delfino on vocals.

Nabil Rosman Photography: Streets of KL

Image Credit: Nabil Rosman

Date: September 1-30

Venue: Streets of Kuala Lumpur

Nabil Rosman, an award winning young photographer from Kelantan, has created three new series of photos under the Main Theme- “Streets of KL”, specially for the 2018 Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival:

Tradition is a series of pictures focusing on traditional crafts and professions. In this theme, Nabil conveys the message that even in this modern era, there are still individuals who steadfastly work in traditional professions to preserve the multi ethnic cultures that shape our unique identity as Malaysians.

A Bit of Kuala Lumpur is a series of pictures taken at the streets in Kuala Lumpur. We tend to take small things that happen around us for granted. It is important for us to take a step back to appreciate the moment as it may not be the same again.

Living the Life is a series of portraits highlighted the smiles and joy in the subjects’ faces. They are living a simple life and yet they manage to feel happy with what they have. Money is not everything in life- So be happy with what you have, and make the most of it.

There are many more shows during the KLIAF that you can check out. Find out more and buy tickets at


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