Pitchpad ASEAN

A ticket to the world stage.

My Performing Arts Agency (MyPAA) recently hosted a pitching platform for performing arts groups from the region including entries from Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Cambodia. The session titled, ‘Pitchpad ASEAN’ was a first for MyPAA’s annual Borak Arts series which serves as a springboard for conversation and networking with leading industry professionals from around the world.

What it’s about:

  • Nurturing talent
  • Developing arts and culture as a regional asset
  • Taking ASEAN culture, arts and heritage to the world

The format:

During a two-hour session, ten companies pitched their shows to potential funders and partners, including:

1. Arts in the Park – Suryani Senja | Festival Director (Malaysia),
2. George Town FestivalJoe Sidek | Festival Director (Malaysia)
3. KMPArtists – Kristopher McDowell | President and CEO (USA)
4. Esplanade Singapore – Marlene Margaret Ditzig Li-Mei | Programmer (Singapore)
5. Darwin FestivalAndrew Ross | Artistic Director (Australia)
6. Brisbane Powerhouse – Marnie Karmelita | Programming Director (Australia)
7. Arts Centre Melbourne – Kate Ben-Tovim | Creative Associate, Asian Performing Arts Program (Australia)
8. OzAsia Festival, Adelaide Festival Centre – Joseph Mitchell | Festival Director (Australia)
9. Festival Tokyo – Sachio Ichimura & Hirotomo Kojima | Director & Vice Director (Japan)

Why it matters:

It isn’t always easy to find financial support for the arts within the region. While ASEAN’s European counterpart actively engages in the preservation and cultivation of cultural heritage, ASEAN is only beginning to understand the potential within this region’s artistic treasure trove.

Pitchpad 2015 is a starting point for this effort; as it hopes to encourage performing artistes and collaborators to network, learn, collaborate and discuss opportunities within the region and internationally.

“… we must not forget the importance of the arts in nurturing educational assets, providing a sense of place… and defining our cultural character in addition to being an economic driver.”

– Izan Satrina, Founder and Director at MyPAA.

Our Top #3 picks:

1. Sipat Lawin Ensemble (Philippines)

Known for: Documentary theatre

Artistic Director: Jk Anicoche

Gobyerno’s methodology employs a participating audience to consider how they would re-imagine social institutions. Each project is developed as a live documentary series in which the audience is invited to consider perspectives within an imaginary community. This group aims to stimulate conversation and discussion in relation to the nature of government and social constructs with the hope that it will eventually affect policy.


2. Ombak-Ombak Art Studio (Malaysia)

Known for: Reinventing street work

Artistic Director: Aida Redza

The group focuses on immersive experiences and site specific projects. Their point of interest is in the performing body. Their approach is to produce, devise and compose a piece within a 2-3 week intensive timeframe, which includes research and study of the community and environment.


3. Amrita Performing Arts (Cambodia)

Rady Nget in Brodal Serei. Photo by Lin Chih-Yu.

Known for: Contemporary dance theatre

Executive Director: Rithisal Kang

Amrita Performing Arts’ latest production, Brodal Serei, explores the life of the traditional Khmer boxer in the present day. This project aims to shed light on the nature of “success and struggle” as their livelihood becomes tangled within the context of “economy and sport”. The performance presents a new dance vocabulary with physical movements from the Khmer boxing style.


Who else participated?

Hands Percussion (Malaysia)

Known for: Experimental Malaysian-Chinese drum work

Artistic Director: Goh Seang Heong (Bernard)

The group was founded on its aim to explore and incorporate traditional forms of music in the region. Every piece uses traditional Malaysian-Chinese percussion as the primary foundation for other instruments and influences from Asia. Movement plays a central role in every performance to engage the viewer in an immersive experience.



ASWARA Dance Company (Malaysia)

Known for: Contemporary dance

Artistic Director: Joseph Gonzales

ASWARA Dance Company (ADC) aims to bring traditional dance forms to modern audiences. The group’s approach is experimental, as it aims to make “art that matters” and to create a new dialogue for dance within the traditional/contemporary space. Performances are often staged in a theatrical, storytelling format.



Swordfish, Concubine and the Fall of Singapura (Malaysia)

Known for: Top 5 in Warehouse Theatres’ International Playwriting Festival (2006)

Artistic Director: Kee Thuan Chye

Written by Kee Thuan Chye, this play aims to discuss the idea of citizenship and power. The story begins with a young boy who is executed because the ruling King feared he would become too wise and powerful in old age. The playwright remarks that “art is about reflection” and invites the audience to reflect through this production.


Pentas Project Theatre Production (Malaysia)

Known for: Photography & contemporary dance

Artistic Director: Loh Kok Man

Pentas Project Theatre Production (PPTP) is a collaborative effort between Loh Kok Man (director) and Pam Lim (producer / photographer). Each stage piece finds its inspiration in Pam Lim’s photography. PPTP’s performances interpret the interaction between people and the subject through contemporary dance. Their latest production, ‘Double Punctum’, reflects on the philosophy of Roland Barthes to consider an “accidental detail which pricks feeling”.



The Malay Man and His Chinese Father (Singapore)

Known for: Inter-disciplinary performance

Artistic Director: Noor Effendy Ibrahim

The Malay Man and His Chinese Father is a physical performance which plays on the notion of dependence. The story portrays a sense of obligation felt by the young Malay Man towards his ailing Chinese Father and depicts how the two are begrudgingly tied to one another, through love and pain.


Malay (Philippines)

Known for: Contemporary dance

Artistic Directors: Al Garcia, Eisa Jocson, Sarah Salazar

The group aims to develop a new dance language based on folk dance forms from the Philippines. ‘Malay’ is a solo performance piece by Al Garcia, who aims to explore the varying states of consciousness accessed when exploring folk dance languages. The piece is inspired by the word, ‘Malaya’, which stands for “freedom and conscious liberation”.


Rhythm in Bronze (Malaysia)

Known for: Gamelan theatre

Artistic Director: Jillian Ooi

Rhythm in Bronze (RIB) seeks to introduce Malaysian culture in an accessible way. The group focuses two ancient musical forms – Gamelan and Asian folk songs. They introduce movement and elements of dance into performances to create a more theatrical approach. The end result is a rhythmic experience, with the kind of ease and flow only ever achieved by masterful composition.


Pitchpad ASEAN is supported by MyPAA and George Town Festival. George Town Festival is sponsored by the Penang State Government and supported by Tourism Malaysia.