Penang Players Music and Drama Society was founded in early 1950s by a group of expatriates residing in Penang. During those early years the productions were typical of colonial outlook, ranging from Shakespeare to pantomimes to light comedies and West End thrillers.
In the late 1960s, as the expatriates gradually left for home, the membership became largely Malaysian. A different type of theatre came to be produced, especially after 1970 when Kamal al-Yafil assumed the chairman’s post. Fool’s paradise, a light comedy. and The Need to BE by Patrick YEOH were staged in 1971. In the following year, Sri Kebayan by Ananta Toer was staged in Bahasa Indonesia in conjunction with PESTA Pulau Pinang. The director was Harry Aveling, a lecturer in Malay Literature in USM. Then, Roger Long, a drama lecturer, took over as chairman and directed The Rainmaker which was put up in early 1973.
After this active period, Penang Players Music and Drama Society became dormant for several years. It was revived only in 1976 when a group of USM students joined the society. These new members put up MARUKAMI, an adapted Kabuki play directed by Kee Thuan Chye. Three more shows followed in 1977, including ANTIGONE by Jean Anouilh and BATTLES OF COXINGA which was adapted from the Buranku (Japanese Puppet theatre). In the following year, a Kuala Lumpur group staged the Fantastisks at the Dewan Sri Penang under the sponsorship of Penang Players.
1990’s to today
A long dormant period ensued until the present revival that began in 1992 through the initiative of Angela Clarke and encouragement from Penang Executive Councillor (Datuk) Kee Phaik Cheen. The troup has, since its “reawakening”, organised a host of theatre workshops, literature recitals and successful plays.
From 1995 to today the society has also organised workshops on acting, movement, voice for stage, make-up, mime, poetry for adults and children, intensive playwriting courses, produced musical shows and also co-produced various shows from Kuala Lumpur.