Singapore Arts Festival Blog

SAF 2011 (and beyond!!!) by Ng Yi-Sheng
June 19, 2010, 4:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It occurs to me that this blog is also a very good platform for voicing what we’d like to see of the Singapore Arts Festival in years to come. After all, the Festival staff do actually read it for shits and giggles.

So I’ll tell ya what I want, what I really really want:

New Commissions

You know we want Singapore artists to show off their skillz, so I recommend calling up:

1) Kumar. I’m serious. I want to show him off to the world a little more. And of course, he sells tickets. It’d be great to have him jam with a more avant-garde performer – keep his classic brand of comedy, but allow it to riff with a contrasting sensibility.

2) Wang Meiyin. This Singaporean theatre director has her own New York-based theatre company: Quality Meats. They do intriguing, intense, manic stuff – we should get t see it first-hand. Invite Alec Tok back too, sometime. (You don’t have to get Chay Yew back for a while.)

3) Ramesh Meyyappan. This mime actor was the cornerstone of HI! Theatre back in the day, and now he’s an acclaimed international artist and former winner of the Life! Theatre Awards 2008 for Best Actor. A real inspiration to the deaf community. He’s a hell of a nice guy, too.

4) Margaret Leng Tan vs. John Sharpley. That’s right: an internationally renowned Singaporean-turned-American avant garde composer, versus an internationally renowned American-turned-Singaporean avant garde composer.

Seriously, just more avant-garde music. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra is just not cutting it with their 18th century dead white men. We need a whole “appreciating contemporary music” learning series…

5) There is a Hong Kong-based Singaporean singer and composer named Mark Chan, a New York-based pianist and contemporary composer named Marc Chan, and a Singapore-based percussionist for SiXX named Mark Chan.

Therefore, I propose Mark Chan vs Marc Chan vs Marc Chan.

Actually, I’m just being nuts. But Marc number two is really cool. He once played an entire Bach concerto in alphabetical order.

Re/visit/create/ imagine/mix

1) Ovidia Yu’s “A Woman on a Tree on a Hill”, the W!ld Rice version. It was a universally acclaimed version of a Singapore classic, and a rare instance of this populist company venturing into experimental staging. And it’ll have been ten years. Why not?

2) Alfian Sa’at’s “The Optic Trilogy” – also first staged in 2001 by STAGES, and since then staged in Zurich, Berlin and Stockholm. It’s also just been published as part of “Alfian Sa’at: Collected Plays One”. If you wanna score extra wow-points, get one of the Teutonic troupes to perform it in Singapore.

(Yeah, of course I’d like “sex.violence.blood.gore” and “Asian Boys Vol 1” as well, but I’m not gonna push too hard yet.)

3) Chong Tze Chien/The Finger Players’s “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”. I’ve heard so much about this small-scale Life! Theatre Best Play awardee and it drives me nuts that I’ve never seen it.

4) Natalie Hennedige/Cake Theatre’s “Nothing”. Ditto from above.

5) Li Xie’s “VaginaLogue”, which is way better than Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” and also bears the distinction of having been censored through funding withdrawals. Her House of Sins is also awesome. DramaBox’s rendition of Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud Nine”, translated by Quah Sy Ren, would also be brilliant.

6) A scaled-down sit-and-sing version of “Chang and Eng” by Ekachai Uekrongtham and Ming Wong. Not because it was fantastic, but because I want people to remember.  The Victoria Theatre ushers loved this one, remember.

7) Huzir Sulaiman’s “Atomic Jaya”.  He counts as Singaporean by now, doesn’t he?  But is it okay if we make fun of Malaysia in this incredibly funny play?

… I’m not sure what other concrete suggestions I’ve got, other than the fact that I’d love to see a Young-Jean Lee production performed here. But I’m sure you guys have ideas – including lineups that aren’t so heavy on queer themes.


Ng Yi-Sheng

5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Atomic Jaya FTW!!!

The Economic Strategies Committee recommended exploring the feasibility of uclear energy in Singapore, so this would be timely.

The first time I saw it, I literally teared from all the laughing. It was such a riot.

It should not be localised, though, or we’d run into censorship issues. Keep it as Atomic Jaya. After all we can’t resist the occasional jibe at our northern neighbours, and they can’t complain since Sulaiman was one of them eh?

Comment by Don

Great suggestion list. I’m ditto-ing for Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Ramesh Meyyappan, Margaret Leng Tan and Atomic Jaya! I remember reading Huzir’s play last year. Laughed non-stop on the bus.

Comment by Mayo

Hey Mayo: do you know of any Pinoy artists who really deserve to be featured?

I’ve met the choreographer Donna Miranda, but I don’t really understand her work… Ooh, they should get playwright/actor Francis Tanglao-Aguas!!!

Comment by Ng Yi-Sheng

YS, as in Pinoys of the avant-gardey, “cutting edge” mould in the performance arts? Haven’t kept tabs in 6 years and most of those I’ve seen before that are all pretty “normal” stuff. Nothing like what Pichet or Jecko do. It’s the visual artists who’ve been pretty out there, and the Biennale and Osage folks have been featuring them regularly. I like Donna’s ideas. She took part in this interesting performance ( Maybe a collab with Joavien or danny k?

Comment by Mayo

Nooooes don’t do The Optic Trilogy. Give us undergrads a chance at it next year @_@

Comment by xewyne

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