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Singapore International Festival of Arts brings again the thrill, Arts News & Top Stories

A stage adaptation of George Orwell’s basic dystopian novel 1984, live shows from YouTube jazz sensation Jacob Collier and a free human circus on the Empress Lawn are packed into the opening weekend of the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa) this 12 months.

More than 40 various occasions have been programmed from April 26 to May 12 by pageant director Gaurav Kripalani and his crew.

Free talks, performances and artwork experiences in and round The Arts House – renamed “Festival House” for the period – happen alongside blockbuster exhibits corresponding to 1984 by British theatre-makers Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan.

On April 27, for instance, festivalgoers can watch 1984 on the Esplanade Theatre – front-row seats at $10 for college students – after which head to the Empress Lawn afterwards for a free tightrope act, …Sodade…, by French troupe Cirque Rouages.

Kripalani hopes to create a way of place and pleasure across the arts pageant. “I love festivals that have a festival village, a place where artists and audiences can go and talk about the show and eat and discuss the plays they’ve seen,” he says.

Bringing again the thrill is an enormous a part of his imaginative and prescient because the pageant director from this 12 months to 2020.

In 1977, the Singapore Arts Festival was the largest present on the town, bringing the humanities world exterior Singapore to native levels.

Kripalani recollects watching the acclaimed Macbeth of the late Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa in 1992, because of the pageant. “It shaped my appreciation of theatre. I had never seen Shakespeare like that. I had never seen anything of that scale.”


  • WHERE: Various areas

    WHEN: April 26 to May 12

    ADMISSION: Various costs, from Sistic (name 6348-5555 or go to

    INFO: For extra ticketing and programme particulars, go to

Towards the top of its 36-year run, the Singapore Arts Festival noticed a dramatic fall in attendance. It was revamped, with TheatreWorks’ inventive director Ong Keng Sen taking on from 2014 to final 12 months. The pageant is presently funded by the National Arts Council and organised by The Arts House Limited.

Sifa was held throughout August and September prior to now 4 years, however has now been moved ahead to April and May, away from the competing buzz of National Day and the Singapore Grand Prix.

Another change: Students can purchase $10 front-row seats for blockbuster exhibits corresponding to 1984, acclaimed American tap-dancer Michelle Dorrance’s The Blues Project and German director Thomas Ostermeier’s adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen play, Enemy Of The People.

Kripalani says: “Students always get put in the cheap seats at the back because that’s all the schools can afford. If we’re going to be a pinnacle arts festival, so much is about the show’s accessibility to the next generation. And their enthusiasm ripples through the audience.”

The solely ticketed occasions with out these low-cost seats are masterclasses with artists corresponding to Dorrance and exhibits already priced at $35 or beneath.

In the previous 4 editions, Sifa was heralded by a pre-festival programme referred to as the O.P.E.N., which featured workshops, exhibitions and movie screenings. The Arts House Limited’s chief govt officer, Ms Sarah Martin, says the pageant crew has constructed on this concept by incorporating such occasions into the principle pageant season.

For instance, on April 28, a chat and a ebook membership can be held on the Festival House. The speak enhances poetry night Rhymes Of Love by Bollywood energy couple Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi on April 27. The ebook membership discusses Octavia E. Butler’s Parable Of The Sower, staged right here on May four and 5.

Parable Of The Sower is an operatic adaptation of Butler’s dystopian novel, with American musicians Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon utilizing quintessentially African-American music – gospel, soul, blues, funk – to inform the story of a gifted outsider.

Sifa this 12 months additionally pays specific tribute to music.

It opens with ticketed live shows by Collier, a 24-year-old jazz musician whose YouTube preparations of basic tunes went viral and who gained two Grammys final 12 months.

It closes with Nico Muhly, a protege of American composer Philip Glass, performing on the School of the Arts Drama Theatre, in addition to a free jazz concert by the Duke Ellington Orchestra on the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

“I think we’ve programmed things we love,” Kripalani says, with fun. “We’ve consciously made sure there are shows that would appeal to a person attending for the first time as well as a seasoned arts lover.”

There are a number of native commissions this 12 months, corresponding to 0600, a tour cum efficiency on the National Gallery Singapore from new arts collective Ground Z-Zero, which faucets the constructing’s heritage because the Supreme Court.

Toy Factory Productions is staging A Dream Under The Southern Bough – The Beginning, a up to date model of a 17th-century Kun opera.

Then there’s the cross-disciplinary work Anticipation Of One, the place musicians from music collective SA and digital duo Nada work with multimedia artist Brandon Tay, 36, who is creating lightscapes to accompany the musical efficiency on the Festival House on May four and 5.

He and Nada labored collectively on a musical undertaking for the 2016 O.P.E.N. a part of Sifa, mashing scenes from outdated Malay films with Nada’s efficiency. Tay additionally labored on large gentle installations for the just-concluded Light To Night Festival: Colour Sensations for final month’s Singapore Art Week and says he’s trying ahead to engaged on the intimate area within the Festival House.

“Sifa has a very strong heritage and a very strong history. The people working on it know that and expect a certain calibre. It’s a great opportunity for arts practitioners,” he says.

Kripalani says Sifa has commissioned extra native works for subsequent 12 months and 2020.

“You can’t create something in six months,” says the pageant director, whose appointment was introduced in March final 12 months. “Sifa is going to see how we can facilitate exploration, collaboration and give artists time to do things.”

Festival highlights for theatre newbies

Festival director Gaurav Kripalani goals for the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2018 to attract in seasoned arts lovers in addition to first-time festivalgoers. He means that newbies watch these three exhibits for starters.


What: A showcase of faucet dance from acclaimed American performer Michelle Dorrance and her Dorrance Dance troupe, carried out to blues sung stay by Toshi Reagon and the BIGLovely Ensemble. Why: Kripalani says: “It’s fun. Michelle Dorrance pushes the boundary of what people perceive tap to be. It will draw in people who enjoy the art form and then let them experience something they’ve never experienced before.” When: May eight and 9, 8pm Where: Victoria Theatre, 9 Empress Place Admission: $35 and $50 by way of Sistic (name 6348-5555 or go to; $10 tickets for college students from


What: A concert from the 24-year-old British musician whose viral YouTube movies characteristic a number of variations of himself singing in concord. Collier’s tackle the theme from basic 1960s cartoon The Flintstones has acquired a couple of million views on YouTube and gained a Grammy Award final 12 months for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals. Why: Kripalani says: “He creates multi-disciplinary music on the spot with multiple instruments. It’s a joy to watch.” When: April 27, 8pm Where: Victoria Theatre Admission: $40 by way of Sistic; $10 tickets for college students from


What: A stage adaptation of George Orwell’s basic novel about state management and surveillance, from British playwrights and administrators Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan. Why: Kripalani says: “It’s a multimedia theatrical performance with a strong narrative.” When: April 26, 8pm; April 27, 7.45pm; April 28 and 29, three and 8pm Where: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Drive Admission: $35 to $80 by way of Sistic; $10 tickets for college students from

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