The Singapore Arts Fest is once again upon us, and this year the Arts Fest will kick off with a bang on the 18th of May, with an entire Festival Village built up around Esplanade Park by the Singapore River. An entire month of showcase featuring performances of the highest calibre from Singapore and around the world awaits.
This annual Arts showcase extravaganza has always been quite personal for me, but this year it is about to become even more so as I’m one of the official Arts Festival blogger / photographer involved in helping to showcase and write about the various performances in words and pictures. And what better way to start playing my role by giving you a sneak preview of what the Arts Fest entails this year, starting from the official media preview hosted by the Arts Fest last night on the 16th of May.
Kee Hong, the General Manager of the Arts Fest, kicked off the evening’s proceedings with a light hearted summation of the history of the Arts Fest, the concept behind this year’s themes and events, and a rundown of the main highlights of the show.
The Festival Village opens with a series of anchor performances – Flux by Théâtre du Centaure (France), a story about mythical centaurs co-existing within our world, is a visual spectacle not to be missed. Here’s a preview of what is to come. I’m looking forward to the actual performance with real horses!
Audiences can also look forward to more intimate performances held at the Village. Some of these performances include The Finger Players’ (Singapore) The Book of Living and Dying, Marion D’Cruz’s (Malaysia)DREAM COUNTRY – a lost monologue, XII – In Search of 13, a special production by a group of seven veteran Singapore theatre practitioners and a Hong Kong filmmaker, as well as cultural performances by Theyyam (India) and Ka’et Ensemble (Israel).
We were given a hilarious preview of XII – In Search of 13, a show about a boxing ring featuring contestants entered around issues and culture in Singapore, such as the Merlion Vs the China-woman-who-hates-curry (a play on the local contentious issue of a China immigrant family complaining about their Indian Singaporean neighbors cooking curry and the smells the cooking entails), the Merlion vs the Singapore Getai and other characters drawn from cultural, political and social issues in Singapore. This is one show not to be missed, and best of all, it’s free!
For a more interactive experience, visitors are encouraged to participate in the Village’s experiential pieces, which include OPEN-STUDIO 2012 Featuring SONGBIRD by Tara Tan (Singapore) and An Umbrella for 2 by Espaces Sonores (France).
Another highlight of the Festival village is the the Kids Arts Village, a special area filled with activities and programmes curated by children for children. This year, the Kids Arts Village will feature Tangle, an interactive play space where children will get to transform the area into a life-size web through the weaving of coloured elastic bands.
Other programmes include The Young Ones! Performance Showcase, a series of dance, music and drama performances by children from various schools and community groups in Singapore, Spooky Stories, a ghost storytelling session by children,and Splash Art and Crafts, a handicraft area for kids to get creatively messy.
A few of us had to break off from the main media group during the preview at this point as Belinda (who organized the preview for the small group of us) and Yanling from the Singapore Arts Fest brought us for an exclusive, behind the scenes look at actual rehearsal proceedings for The Flight of the Jade Bird, one of the festival highlight shows.
Billed as part concert, part opera,part story-telling, THE FLIGHT OF THE JADE BIRD is a musical directed by renown musical talent Mark Chan that tells the story of a young boy looking for and becoming friends with the last remaining Jade Bird, and of how the bird is convinced that the time has come to stretch his wings or risk being trampled underfoot by the march of modernity. This operetta is performed in English and features a galaxy of stars from Singapore and Hong Kong, including the promise of a new star taking on the role of the young boy.
This preview takes place deep inside the heart of the Esplanade Concert Hall. It is truly an experience to run free with a camera (except on stage, where the performers are rehearsing) inside the Esplanade concert hall.
I will be here again in this very hall tonight, to catch the special media preview of The Flight of the Jade Bird. Watch this space for more Arts Fest updates!