Performing Arts

Opium – An Artistic Addiction

Photo by Melvin xb

Bernard Goh’s passion for artistic expression is infectious.

The Artist Director of Hands Percussion is a believer of following his heart.  After forming the drums-centric group in 1997, he went on to create and collaborate on many eye-opening productions such as Ritual of Drums (2002), Kaleidoscope 3 (2014), and the soon-to-be staged Opium.

Set to presented from July 26 to 31 at Damansara Performing Arts Centre, the group’s first site-specific production is a combination of music, calligraphy, dance, fashion design and visual art. A journey of perspectives and taking risks, of making positive choices in life and shaping one’s view of life, Opium is a representation of Bernard’s various passions.

Bernard Goh, Artist Director of Hands Percussion. Photo by Dev Lee

Combining his memories of his grandfather, love for France and creative expression, Bernard, together with his artistic patners will be presenting the audience with different perspectives of life to feed the intellctual mind.

“My grandpa was an Opium smoker since the age of 16. Despite the negative habit, he spoilt me and loved me a lot. He used to motivate me to do calligraphy and artwork, and was a mentor in my artistic pursuits. When I was growing up, there were times when I hated him but deep inside there was a lot of love,” said Bernard.

As with most artists, Bernard is a big fan of Paris, but his first time to the city of love and creativity left him disappointed – people were not friendly and some parts were dirty and smelly. It was only in later on in his subsequent visits to the outskirts when he fell in love with France.

“When I spent a month and a half there in 2009, I walked from one museum to another, and discovered little cafes and met interesting, unique people, which I would’t have if I had taken the train. It’s good to look at and appreciate our surroundings, and I wanted to to have that same effect on stage,” he added.

For Bernard, Opium represents an addiction to artistic expression, and his sentiments are echoed by the rest of the artists in the production.  Making up the production are three French artists who now call Malaysia their home – Mathilde Limal (Singer), Florian Antier (Cellist) and Anne Deguerry (Visual Artist). Other Malaysian collaborates include Wong Jyh Shyong (Dance), Ong Chia Koon (Calligrapher), Joe Chia (Fashion Designer), Yuan Leow Yunn (Arranger), Gideon Alu8khan Chen (Guitarist), Howz (Musician), Azli Taslim (Accordionist), Muji Lee (Installation Artist), Ng Siu Yee (Music Director) as well as the talented HANDS Percussion.

With three simultaneous performances at three sites and a finale at DPAC’s outdoor space, the talented artists have been working hard together  – and individually to come up with open and interactive pieces for audiences to expience.

Formerly a graphic designer, the 44-year-old has taken Hands Percussion members to greater heights and international platforms in the past 19 years.  A keen educator of the arts among Malaysian students, Bernard also encourages the members of his group to  go beyond drumming and into different aspects of theatre.

“A theatre piece makes you think. What we have in mind as an artist is an idea to share, we carry a message to the audience in hopes of a better world – despite the state of the economy. Opium is a drug and our aim is only stimulate the mind of the audience,” revealed Bernard at an interview recently.

Discover the messages of Opium with Bernard and his friends by walking (and experiencing) three diffrerent sites. Audience are encourage to wear casual wear and comfortable shoes. Tickets are priced at RM128 and RM115(For DPAC members & Hands
Club members).  Call 03-4065 0001/2 or purchase tickets online.


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