Adventures of Ngarayang was the official theater show for Sabah Fest 2012 and was held at the new JKKN complex along Jalan Penampang in Kota Kinabalu city. Having attended the end of the Kaamatan or Harvest Festival last year, this time around I was invited to catch this unique cultural theater show at the beginning of the Kaamatan. I have heard about this from friends in Sabah but did not have the slightest clue on how or what would take place during this show. Well, after catching the Adventures of Ngarayang theater show on the first day, it totally opened my eyes that such an elaborate theater performance was actually held here in Sabah Borneo and was of international standards.
This post features the performance and information about Ngarayang while you can also read my other article on the Sabah Fest 2012 or Pesta Sabah 2012. The colorful theater show is only held on three days with one show a day at 8.30pm. Ticket prices are only RM50.00 while the capacity of the new Sabah Arts and Culture Department Auditorium seats about 600 people.
The Adventures of Ngarayang depicts an era of barter trading done along the west coast of North Borneo back in the day. A young and handsome Bruneian sailor named Ngarayang which translates as trader sailed the east coast to barter goods and along the way found more that what he bargained for. Ngarayang was also gifted with a charming demeanor and with a flair of storytelling, he would captivate his audiences where ever he stopped with amazing stories of his travels and tales. Having sailed around the region and heading back to his home land, he makes a stop at the north of Sabah at the island of Banggi to replenish stocks and so on. Here he encounters a local tribe called the Dusun Bonggi where he witnesses a rare ritual called Baballang and also the Tabadak dance.
On Ngarayang's journey back to Brunei, he makes a stopover at Tuaran. He wanted to fulfill his late fathers wish to send brass ware made by his uncle in Brunei to the Dusun Lotud chief who wanted them as heirlooms. While making their way to see the chief, Ngarayang comes across a local wedding procession. Here he was mesmerized by a beautiful Sulu princess who was the guest of honor and after heading back to his ship, he could not stop thinking of her.
Baballang Ritual from the Dusun Bonggi
Bajau men and women perform a dance
As Ngarayang made his way back, he made various stops along many coastal towns like Kota Maradu, Kuala Penyu, Beaufort and Bongawan. At each of the towns, he witnessed the local people perform their own ethnic dance and rituals which fascinated him and his crew.
Bubu Mangalai dance
Liliput dance by the village youth
Finally after much travels and adventures, Ngarayang's ship started to sink at the town of Menggatal where being stranded in a lagoon, a local ethnic group rescued and brought them to shore. Being sad with the loss of his ship, the beautiful Sulu princess was seen standing at the shore. His prayers had been answered as he had been thinking of her ever since laying eyes back then. Eventually they got married and he decided to live in this new land. As a memorial to the event, he decided to name the place where his ship ran aground to Karambunai. Karam means sinking in Bruneian language.
Left - A couple in traditional costume, Right - A girl in an elaborate costume
A Bobohizan (Priestess) on stage
Fauziah Gambus - The only female Gambus player
Girls in ethnic costumes dance towards the finale of the show
A mix of multiculturalism is seen on stage
End of the show with everyone on stage
The start of the Kaamatan Festival opens with a theater show early in the month and throughout the month, various festivals are held throughout Sabah. At the end of May, the Harvest Beauty Queen Final Contest or Unduk Ngadau is held to crown the Harvest Queen. A myriad of activities is held at the KDCA center in Penampang where you will encounter the many ethnic tribes of Sabah in one place.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience seeing how the performers carried out their roles in this amazing theater show. The dances were well choreographed while each of the traditional costumes were very beautiful. At the end, everyone went on stage and off stage to thank the audience with a few farewell songs. Seriously, one of best stage performances I have seen and my hats off to everyone involved in the making of the Adventures of Ngarayang.