Citizens Journal
Fri Mar 01 2024

Dabble Dabble Jer Collective: Igniting Penang's Art Scene with Passion

Arts & Culture
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In the heart of Penang, where tradition meets innovation, a sextet of friends embarked on a journey fuelled by their genuine passion for writing and the performing arts. Miriam Devaprasana, Bernardine Abeysekra, Charity Yong, Darynn Wee, Justin Khaw, and Ysabel Loh each bring their unique skills and experiences to the table but share values that are rooted in one objective - to contribute to the flourishing art landscape in Penang and wider Malaysia. Thus, in December 2022, Dabble Dabble Jer Collective (DDJ.Co) was born, and since then, the Penang art scene has become more vibrant than ever.

"At DDJ.Co, we are especially interested in exploring diverse perspectives in arts, culture and heritage, and themes surrounding identity and sociocultural constructs with artists, musicians, performers, dancers, and creatives, regardless of background or creed," said Miriam Devaprasana, one of the founding members. "We hope to create inclusive spaces where artists from all backgrounds can come together and recreate the world through their creative lens.

"We want to build bridges and create a community where people can discover the power of storytelling and bring those stories to life," she said.


DDJ.Co has been striving for artistic excellence while making a meaningful impact on society. Their most recent performance was their successful Chinese New Year event, ' Readings at Tanjong: Gongxi Gongxi!' This event, held as part of the annual Penang Miaohui celebrations, took place at Kar Yin Fui Kon, located at 24 King Street in Georgetown. During this event, poets and writers from DDJ.Co shared their work with the public, creating a celebration of storytelling. The atmosphere echoed the spirit of the traditional penglipur lara gatherings of yesteryears, where people would come together to listen to tales of distant lands and captivating adventures.

DDJ.Co is developing two theatre productions, an experimental music performance, and a series of community-oriented arts events, engaging audiences with art in new and dynamic ways.

"We are particularly interested in narratives that push boundaries and interrogate our ever-evolving environs," said Miriam.

"Through collaborative and experimental works across disciplines, we hope to challenge norms in ways that resonate with people on a different level. We feature voices that question the norm, diving deep into the hidden, neglected, and forgotten aspects of society and community," she added.

Another recent endeavour was the DDJ. Co's participation in the Butterworth Fringe Festival (BFF) last December, where five writers presented their original and newly written works centred around the mythical figure of the dragon 'Readings@Tanjong: The Dragon Awakens'. These performances, which draw from local folklore and traditions, captivated audiences of all ages, immersing them in a world where words came alive through the spoken artistry of the performers.

"We drew inspiration from the upcoming Year of the Dragon, a significant event, and our rich local folklore. Dragons are rooted in places like Kota Kinabalu, Tasik Chini, Langkawi, and even Penang.

"Our writers extensively researched local folklore themes, family ties, cultural legacy, and traditional artisanship. Our writers – Anna Tan, Diyaa Mani, Yee Heng Yeh, JY Tan and Wan Phing Lim, were all selected through an open call.


"We continue to explore the limits of artistic expression while staying true to our roots and values," said Miriam.

"We believe that art has the potential to challenge preconceived notions, provoke thought, stimulate debate, and bring about positive change in our society," she said.

As DDJ.Co continues to forge ahead, one thing remains certain – DDJ.Co is more than just a group of artists - it's a movement, a provocateur for social transformation, and a conduit to infuse creativity into the everyday lives of ordinary people.

"From devising to producing, we encourage interested parties to collaborate with us on experimental works across disciplines and frameworks.

"Together, we can explore a range of viewpoints and transform them into innovative, progressive, and radical productions and performances, such as media storytelling, art installations, theatrical performances, and more," said Miriam.

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by malaysiakini

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