What’s your Watchlist for the S’pore Arts Festival 2011?

4 Mar

Who cares for the Singapore Arts Fest? I DO! Don’t you? If you don’t, then who?

Did you know the Festival was started way back in 1977? I didn’t. I wasn’t even born yet.  I wonder how many Singaporeans even KNOW the festival existed back then.  I didn’t know about the Festival till I was 17!

Since then, the Festival has become a staple diet to feed my ever-growing appetite for the Arts, which in turn devours my limited monetary resources…  Anyway, I consider it investment for my soul, for my brains, and my passion. 🙂  So just like an Investment guru and his Watchlist, I will also like to share with you my own personal (and probably highly biased) “hot stock” picks for this year’s Singapore Art Festival!

yuehann’s Top 6 SAF picks!

(in random order & based on totally biased personal preferences and straight off the gut feel)

1) When a Gray Taiwanese Cow Stretched by Ishinha
♦ 13 May – 17 May ♦ Festival Village ♦ 7.15pm ♦ 2hrs (no intermission) ♦ $60, $45 ♦ Performed in Japanese with English surtitles

This is the Festival’s opening show and performed by a Japanese theatre company. Held at the outdoor Festival Village as a rain-or-shine event, it feels like a “Shakespeare in the park” but updated, and in an Asian context. Nice, I like it!  I liked last year’s opening which featured the Fire garden installation by Compagnie Carabosse too. Yes! Good on you Arts Fest! Finally no more expensive looking, no content, carnival-y, acrobats and industrial looking complex mechatronic Opening shows! (I like those too, but we already have those things for ChingayNDP, and Night Festival etc).   This video should give you a good idea of what to expect from Ishinha.

2) Inhabitants by Teatro de los Sentidos
♦ 24 – 29 May, 31 May – 5 June ♦ Drama Centre Black Box
♦ 6.30pm, 8pm & 9.30pm ♦ 70mins (no intermission) ♦ $40

Theatre for the Senses, that’s the name of the artists for this show.  A little bird told me that the space of Drama Centre will be entirely transformed for this production.  I imagine that one would be made to walk into and around the transformed space to experience sight, sound, smell that kind of thing. Quite interesting.  Personally, I fear being confined to small dark spaces but hey, for the sake of conquering my fears, bring it on! How’s that for a multi-sensory experience!


3) As it Fades 从消逝开始 by T.H.E Dance Company
♦ 21 May ♦ Esplanade Theatre ♦ 8pm  ♦ 60mins (no intermission)
♦ $60, $40, $20

T.H.E Dance Company has inspired and surprised me time and again. I really enjoy Artistic Director Kuik Swee Boon’s work & respect what he does for the local dance scene.  I remember my first meeting with the Company after attending one of their shows…

T.H.E: Did you enjoy the show?
Me: (a little embarassed) Yes but to be honest, I didn’t understand it… I’m not a dance person…
T.H.E: (smiling sagely) But did you like it?
Me: Yes, it was wonderful to look at!
T.H.E: Then it’s ok! That’s what matters most, that you enjoyed it. You don’t have to understand. Just enjoy the movements…

That made me smile like a bruised kid who was just given an ice cream cone. I was moved.  Anyway (back from reverie), their performance will feature original choreography and definately 100% Made-in-Singapore, so please support quality local arts! It’s your National Service! I was privileged to watch their preview last December and it looked promising indeed.  See their 2010 SAF work (O Sounds) here –


4) Academy of Ancient Music and Sumi Jo
♦ 16 May ♦ Esplanade Concert Hall ♦ 7.30pm ♦ $150, $120, $80, $50, $20

I just wanted to catch a music performance to round up my SAF meal (one must have nutritionally balanced meal no?) and was rather intrigued with the concept of “old” music with “old” instruments. Plus, Sumi Jo was the soprano who sang in the movie Fifth Element and I was curious how she sounds real life when she’s in her regular opera diva element.  However, I am a bit undecided about this cause I am afraid the classical repertoire would be very relaxing and I may zzz…… until the last rousing piece Queen of Sheba.


5) A Throw of Dice Scored and conducted by Nitin Sawhney,  Performed by Singapore Festival Orchestra
♦ 20 May ♦ Esplanade Concert Hall ♦ 7.30pm ♦ 75mins (no intermission) ♦ $100, $70, $40, $20

This is a concert with a twist as it features an old B&W film that is scored live by the Festival Orchestra.  The movie’s about gambling.  How apt! Considering the increasing influence of the Integrated Resorts on our social life, is this a conscious decision? Hmmm…  Although this has been done before (i.e. live scoring), I never really got around to attend those performances in the past. Well, at least I won’t risk falling asleep in this one since there’s something to view on the screen! Haha… then again, I have slept through movies too…


6) Li and Sa by Be-Being
♦ 20 May 8pm, 21 May 3pm  ♦ Esplanade Theatre Studio  ♦ 70mins (no intermission) ♦ $36

This concert by a Korean group combines traditional & contemporary Korean visual arts/music, with buddhist chants thrown into the mix. Sounds quite interesting to me… (more respectful to the religion than say… making monks do kungfu and dance with big grey boxes?)

That just about rounds up my first cut of Shows-To-Watch. So what will you be watching? 🙂

Psst… If you are not already an ArtsFest Club member, go join today and enjoy a special 30% discount! But hurry, the offer is only valid 1-7 March 2011. More at their official website at www.singaporeartsfest.com.

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