This ancient theatre form created by Malaysia’s Malay communities combines acting, vocal and instrumental music, gestures and elaborate costumes. Specific to the villages of Kelantan in northwest Malaysia, where the tradition originated, Mak Yong is performed mainly as entertainment or for ritual purposes related to healing practices.
A typical Mak Yong performance opens with an offering followed by dances, acting and music as well as improvised monologues and dialogues. A single story can be presented over several consecutive nights in a series of three-hour performances. Mak Yong is performed by mainly women troupes, accompanied by an esemble of all-male musicians who plays the rebab, serunai, gongs and elongated barrel drums. From time to time an additional short barrel drum, gong or serunai may be added.